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Overall Rating
3.64

Awesome: 23.08%
Worth A Look37.82%
Average: 23.72%
Pretty Bad: 10.9%
Total Crap: 4.49%

11 reviews, 90 user ratings


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Terminal, The
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by EricDSnider

"In real life, airports are a good deal less entertaining than this."
4 stars

Steven Spielberg's "The Terminal" takes you on such a funny, good-natured ride that you forgive its destination being so ordinary and disappointing. Here's a master storyteller at work, delighting us with warm characters and surprises at every turn, only to find himself stymied when he gets to the end and realizes this wonderful story has nowhere to go.

Set in the present at John F. Kennedy International Airport, the film opens with scenes of chaos and cacophony typical of a busy terminal. This frenetic world will soon become home to Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks), a native of a place called Krakozhia, which has undergone a military coup since Viktor left mere days ago. With a new government in place that is not yet recognized by the United States, Viktor can neither get back on a plane (his passport is useless now), nor can he officially enter America. Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci), the bureaucrat who runs JFK's Homeland Security office, tells him all he can do is stay in the airport until a decision is reached. Viktor has no choice but to take up residence there in the terminal. And wait. And wait.

There's a real-life guy who's been living in the Paris airport for years because of a situation like this, and his situation, which does not sound at all fun to me, inspired this one. In the hands of Spielberg -- back on the whimsical, gee-whiz train that has marked most of his career -- the story becomes a fable, the terminal becomes a microcosm, and characters become modest archetypes.

Despite speaking little English during the film's first act, Viktor evolves into a fully developed character. This is due to a performance by Hanks that is so fine-tuned, he makes us forget, yet again, just how good an actor he really is. He makes it look so natural and effortless, but watch his eyes when Viktor learns his homeland has fallen to military rebels, and then tell me Hanks isn't one of the best actors of his generation.

Viktor learns English over the course of several weeks by watching the terminal's CNN feeds (for other characters learning English by watching TV, see Spielberg's "E.T." or Hanks' "Splash"), and by locating a travel guide in English and the same one in Krakozhian and comparing them. Like Hanks' characters in "Big" and "Cast Away" (where he also didn't speak much for a good chunk of the film), Viktor is extremely smart and resourceful. He's just out of his element, that's all.

Dixon, wryly underplayed by Tucci except in the end, when the screenplay forces him into hysterics, represents The Government, which Spielberg's films have often looked upon with mistrust -- not in a political way, really, but in the way a child would view something so monolithic and powerful. The same government that would take away a boy's best friend just because he's an alien would also make a man live in an airport just because he's ... well, an alien.

Dixon and his league of airport security guards find Viktor fascinating, watching his every move on the surveillance cameras like an ongoing drama. (It will not surprise you to learn that "The Terminal's" screenplay comes from a story by Andrew Niccol, who wrote "The Truman Show.")

Viktor, meanwhile, becomes friends with various airport personnel. Among them: An Indian janitor named Gupta (Kumar Pallana), who himself is a refugee from his native land; Enrique (Diego Luna), who works for in-flight meal provider, gives Viktor the unused meals, and asks Viktor to help him woo Officer Torres (Zoe Saldana), the pretty INS agent who's a Trekkie. The sequence in which Viktor approaches Torres, obtains information and returns to Enrique, over and over again, is utterly fantastic, buoyantly paced and smartly edited.

Viktor also meets a stewardess named Amelia (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who has been carrying on an affair with a married man despite her better judgment. Since she winds up at JFK every few weeks, and since Viktor is there 24/7, their paths cross often enough to strike up a friendship. But while Zeta-Jones in this role is more personable and radiant than she's ever been, her character is useless, nothing more than an obligatory romantic subplot.

Through Amelia we find out why Viktor came to America in the first place, and why he's determined to get to New York City. The reasons aren't as good as they ought to be, and that's a letdown. As fine as the movie has been to that point, we've come to expect everything to be first-rate, so the schmaltzy resolution in Sacha Gervasi and Jeff Nathanson's screenplay feels hollow.

Still, I feel churlish making any major criticisms, since most of them did not occur to me until well after viewing the film. While I was actually IN it, I was almost constantly captivated by the high-spirited humor, which at times is wildly loosy-goosy, even manic. This is probably Spielberg's funniest film, and though it's ultimately not as tender as it wants to be, it certainly has enough else going for it.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=10087&reviewer=247
originally posted: 06/18/04 12:16:50
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User Comments

12/24/13 Michelle O the "romance" didn't fly but Hanks made the rest work 4 stars
6/15/10 fartvenugen as fulfilling as two crackers filled with poop. 2 stars
7/08/09 *Holy_J@lapeno* Its descent. Its fun to watch once. After that, your bored out of your rocker 3 stars
1/02/09 Josef Brillisnt. Subtly Funny and great directing and acting 5 stars
7/22/08 the dork knight All this sugary sweetness makes you want to puke 2 stars
6/18/08 PAUL SHORTT A FILM AS DELIGHTFUL AND ENTERTAINING AS IT IS INSIGHTFUL 4 stars
8/14/07 yousef contrived, cliched rubbish - rubbish. not a good film by any stretch. piss poor. 1 stars
8/09/07 EZ $$ worth a buy 4 stars
5/31/07 ES I didn't buy into any of the romance but I liked this movie very much 4 stars
3/27/07 David Pollastrini interesting subject 4 stars
3/27/07 kathy underheart Does Childress fellate Spielberg for free, or does he get paid? 1 stars
3/20/07 Kimberly Kaminsky I LOVE IT.... 5 stars
3/13/07 Cornelius Liked it, always like the light-hearted stuff. Contrived in parts though, but OK overall 4 stars
2/16/07 Vip Ebriega Spielberg serves up another Hollywood great. 4 stars
1/15/07 R.W.Welch Fairly amusing but too contrived to carry much punch. 3 stars
1/07/07 Dina Very new plot and setting ..loved the movie's uniqueness 5 stars
11/25/06 Khadija a "NICE" to watch movie.. 3 stars
11/16/06 J.Pet Has to be one of my most HATED films! 1 stars
11/14/06 matt Dull. Contrived. Cliche. Avoid like the plague. 1 stars
8/04/06 EZ Very different plot but great filmmakers pulled it off 4 stars
6/25/06 MP Bartley Slushy guff, but Spielberg makes it work - just. The crisp bag scene is hilarious. 3 stars
5/26/06 William Goss Borderline force-fed fluff. Lightweight, and proud of it, which both helps and hinders it. 3 stars
3/03/06 Tanya cute Tom hanks was very good the story was also good 5 stars
10/24/05 xavier the film really potrayed the stuff what tom hanks has in him,in a word it is simply superb 5 stars
9/09/05 Ric Even with a few major missteps, the film has that hard to resist Spielberg magic. 5 stars
9/02/05 Zack i loved it 4 stars
9/02/05 Tom Burns Tom Hanks gives an unforgettable performance. 5 stars
8/19/05 ES Has a gump feel to it, you can't help but be impressed with how he makes money to eat 4 stars
8/06/05 C. Miller Enjoyed the movie--I could relate to it in a lot of ways. 4 stars
7/25/05 Eric Rollins A noun turned into a verb. 2 stars
6/07/05 Darcy watchable 4 stars
6/05/05 Charlene Javier Disappointing because of the combo. 3 stars
5/27/05 Quigley spielberg dissapoints as well as hanks. this is a thing unheard of, but it happens. I weep. 3 stars
5/11/05 Simon Very charming. Flawed, but makes you forget your ordinary life- a film's primary objective. 4 stars
4/03/05 Cindy A little slow, but I love Tom Hanks and enjoyed the move. 4 stars
3/24/05 Charlie Who ever calls this movie 'Terminally Boring' sucks. 4 stars
2/22/05 Jenna Furr Tediously contorted + whole subplot w/ Catherine Shitta-Jones belongs on cutting room floor 3 stars
2/22/05 Rosa Zared BB R word word word word 2 stars
1/10/05 KCobain Much more than fluff. Come on; look closer mate. 5 stars
1/02/05 MyGreenBed It's rare when I can't finish a movie, Terminal is appropriately named. 1 stars
12/25/04 Freddy boring and annoying 2 stars
12/19/04 HL Spielberg makes you think you're watching a good movie? 3 stars
12/06/04 fred The movie at best was 'below average' 2 stars
12/05/04 Helge Samuelsen A warm and funny movie, that I really enjoyed. 5 stars
12/02/04 the Grinch Improbable but based on true story of Iranian refugee who lived in Paris airport terminal 4 stars
11/28/04 Emperor's New Clothes Sweet, a little too easy, but oh Tom Hanks, how you rock 4 stars
11/13/04 RAJEN GREAT MOVIE lots of emotion and actors and Indian too. 5 stars
10/24/04 UMER tom is probably the best actor around these days 4 stars
10/02/04 sam s thanks for the grammer lesson you are oh such a talented reviewer! 5 stars
9/21/04 Helen Bradley Tom Hanks brillant, a masterpiece 5 stars
9/16/04 Jenna Furr Tediously contorted + whole subplot w/ Catherine Shitta-Jones belongs on cutting room floor 3 stars
9/16/04 Rosa Zared BB R word word word word 2 stars
9/08/04 valentina WONDERFUL!! 5 stars
7/26/04 Melissa Wonderful to watch...both the movie and Tom Hanks! 5 stars
7/24/04 S.F Improbable circumstances ( i hope) ...yet watchable 4 stars
7/23/04 Ken Graves Great story with great actors. 4 stars
7/22/04 Nobody This movie is funny go see it right now 5 stars
7/21/04 Valerie A different, but very enjoyable film. A nice change of pace from all the other movies... 4 stars
7/19/04 Gene Entertaining and enjoyable--another very enjoyable Tom Hanks movie! 4 stars
7/18/04 Cassandra Farrar it's Hanks and Spielberg - it can't be bad 4 stars
7/18/04 Richard Awesome 4 stars
7/18/04 Onyeabo Monago Lots of movie spam 2 stars
7/17/04 legend Could've been a great film but it got too sappy for me. 4 stars
7/17/04 Chris Terrible movie. I spent the last half laughing at how stupid it was. I want my 2 hours back 1 stars
7/12/04 Mike V Tom Hanks is great but the movie is a little too corny. 3 stars
7/11/04 Carrie I laughed throughout as did others in the theater. Light and funny. Well acted. 5 stars
7/07/04 Sandra Love Funny, warm, emotional, touching! That the Tucci character would actually do this, unbelie 5 stars
7/07/04 Margie no big explosions or crazy CG, but I had a great time, and what more can you ask? 5 stars
7/05/04 Johnny Great film/movie! A fun ride, first class acting! A must see! 5 stars
7/02/04 sonia Why is this movie so uncritical, apolitical!!! 2 stars
7/01/04 The More You Know Gotta love a chick flick that's got a cool, jazzy core. 5 stars
6/30/04 Maz A fun ride, wonderfully acted. Check it out 5 stars
6/29/04 John verr very charming but also very contrived charachters 3 stars
6/27/04 ron Enjoyable. Totally realistic? No, but it's a MOVIE so have some good laughs. 4 stars
6/27/04 Todd Bertuzzi What a great movie, very nice, funny, heartwarming. Allen Roberts doesn't have a clue! 5 stars
6/25/04 jcjs fun, no brainer, lightened up, clever, funny, tender, touching, filled with character, love 5 stars
6/23/04 daniel ehiwario Delightful, heartwarming movie 4 stars
6/23/04 allen roberts Hope I never meet anyone who ranked this movie "awesome". 1 stars
6/23/04 Gray 100% harmless and funny 5 stars
6/22/04 steve amusing and lovable 4 stars
6/22/04 ajay Dude, Kumar from the Wes Anderson movies is in it. F'in Awsome!!! 5 stars
6/22/04 Marc Basque Spielberg's still got it. One of the best movies of the years. 5 stars
6/22/04 dominique cave Delightful, heartwarming movie Thoroughly enjoyable. 4 stars
6/21/04 Gina Golberg Loved it, especially the little tribute to the Jazz musicians. And I was glad ZETA JONES do 5 stars
6/21/04 Schaefling Disappointing ending that betrays the true nature of the lead characters 2 stars
6/21/04 The More You Know Great Father's Day movie featuring Hanks & the greatest jazz photo ever! 5 stars
6/20/04 Desperado Great movie Hanks and Stevie are back again in a great story, acting and storytelling r A+ 5 stars
6/19/04 Bryan Ehg, i've seen Tom Hanks in many other films. This ones just allright. 3 stars
6/19/04 Micheal Jordan Hoop it up! 5 stars
6/17/04 Jawie Not good. No point to the story. 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  18-Jun-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 23-Nov-2004

UK
  03-Sep-2004 (12)

Australia
  09-Sep-2004




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