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Overall Rating
3.64

Awesome: 22.93%
Worth A Look38.22%
Average: 23.57%
Pretty Bad: 10.83%
Total Crap: 4.46%

11 reviews, 91 user ratings


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Terminal, The
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Spielberg spins his wheels."
3 stars

With 'The Terminal,' Steven Spielberg gives us an amiable if rather toothless fable about a man without a country.

Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks), a citizen of the nation of Krakhozia, has come to New York on unspecified business. As luck would have it, Krakhozia has fallen to revolutionaries, so Viktor's passport is rendered invalid, and he's stuck at JFK International Airport until ... well, nobody really knows. The problem with The Terminal is that it's also about a man without an identity.

Viktor is based, incredibly enough, on a real-life case -- an Iranian named Merhan Karimi Nasseri, who got waylaid at De Gaulle Airport in 1988 and has resided there ever since. Nasseri's story sounds more interesting -- and more spikily human -- than what Spielberg and his writers (Sacha Gervasi and Jeff Nathanson) have gleaned from the basic premise. Viktor falls into a routine at the well-appointed airport, a shining oasis with its own restaurants and stores; he figures out how to earn pocket change from collecting luggage carts, and he subsists on crackers and sleeps on rows of cushioned terminal seats. Viktor is a can-do kind of guy -- the sort of ingenious immigrant that forged America itself, Spielberg is saying.

What passes for conflict here comes from the airport's security officer (Stanley Tucci), a harried and impersonal drone who just wants Viktor off his radar. It's a contest between two kinds of single-mindedness -- the optimistic old-country kind and the jaded urban kind. Viktor won't budge, even when given a chance to leave illegally. You sense he's dealt with this kind of bureaucrat many times in Krakhozia. After a career of films spanning continents and centuries, Spielberg narrows the struggle of the human condition down to one building and one man. The Terminal is Spielberg consciously downsizing. But one can't help thinking that he did this sort of minimalism better, and with much more verve, in early thrillers like Duel and the last hour of Jaws.

Tom Hanks keeps his end of the bargain. He's practically the whole show, as he was in Cast Away (which this movie resembles in its theme of a marooned man making the best of a bad situation), and he works up a satisfyingly twisty accent that loosens up a bit as the movie goes on and Viktor learns more English. (All told, he's stuck at the airport for nine months -- are we supposed to read a birth metaphor into that?) Hanks is now the all-American go-to guy (he rose to the position after Harrison Ford seemed to disregard it), and his performance as a foreigner is full of comic bits of incomprehension giving way to a native shrewdness. But after spending over two hours with Viktor, we've learned almost nothing about him except the contents of his mysterious can of Planters peanuts (and the heart-tugging backstory behind it). We leave with clearer impressions of the people Viktor meets, such as a lovestruck cafeteria worker (Diego Luna) or a floor-mopping Indian refugee (Kumar Pallana, veteran of three Wes Anderson films).

Spielberg tries to inject a love story between Viktor and a romantically confused flight attendant (Catherine Zeta-Jones), but the subplot feels strained and groundless, leaving Zeta-Jones with virtually nothing to play. Eventually, The Terminal swells up to full Capra idolatry, surrounding Viktor with his new friends in shots that make It's a Wonderful Life look like a chilly art-house film. Spielberg has set himself the challenge of one location and a near-plotless structure, and the movie is certainly fluidly directed -- he keeps it going almost as an exercise, the way Hitchcock took on the technical obstacles of Rope.

But in the end, you're not quite sure why, other than the chance to play on what's been advertised as the biggest set in movie history, Spielberg has picked this story to tell. There's very little of him in it except the part of himself that can't resist schmaltz.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=10087&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/11/07 13:56:50
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User Comments

7/19/14 xikismbqaz USA 4 stars
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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