WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Upon arriving at New York’s JFK airport, Viktor Navorski (Hanks) is told that due to an internal war that broke out in his native Krakozia, he is not only forbidden entry into the U.S. but also cannot return back home until the matter is resolved. So, Viktor is forced to lead a limbo existence within the confines of the airport where he learns to fend for himself, learn the language and fall in love; all while dealing with a giant prick of a customs supervisor (Tucci) who can’t seem to integrate humanity into any of his duties.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
THE TERMINAL is very much like Spielberg’s previous effort CATCH ME IF YOU CAN. They’re both relatively light, comedic films with scattered, yet credible doses of heavy drama sprinkled around. They both also left me with a feeling of deep satisfaction in the end. If you like to pick nits, then it’s a guarantee that you won’t enjoy this film, there are at least a dozen elements in the plot that you will have to dismiss as fantastical necessities in order to make this movie work for you. For example, the officials are way too casual and unprofessional in handling Viktor’s case and informing him of his situation upon his arrival, he barely speaks and understands two words of English and yet they just send him off into the airport with some food vouchers and a beeper. But, of course, had they gotten a decent translator for him, a good place to sleep and a representative from his embassy to see him, there wouldn’t be much of a movie, and even if there were, it wouldn’t be charming or funny in the least. And that’s the key word when describing this movie - charm; from Hanks’ mastery of an innocent Russian-type dialect and accent, to the three airport employees that he befriends in the airport (Diego Luna, Barry Shabaka Hanley and Kumar Pallana), there is a magical and dreamy quality to everything in this movie, you just have to let it take you under its spell and don’t analyze it too much; this movie isn’t meant for that…
Ironically, through his adventures in the airport, Viktor sees both the good and bad sides of human nature and ends up experiencing the diversity of the people, the compassion, acceptance, togetherness and love that America is capable of without ever leaving the airport. Now if you think that’s a candy-coated, cornball outlook on life, than you’re just the type of person who should see this movie. Much like Frank Capra’s films, to which this movie is heavily compared, THE TERMINAL depicts what brings out the best in people, how many things are possible instead of impossible, how good can always conquer evil and all the rest of that cheery be-bop. In short, it’s hopeful, and like Capra’s most celebrated film IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, it lets all the underdogs of the planet know that the world can always be a rosy place, if your attitude is right. My only complaint is that as good as Zeta-Jones is in the movie, I honestly think their relationship hindered the movie somewhat and took away a lot of the momentum. In short, I think the movie would have been just as successful in what it was trying to accomplish without a forced romantic interest like that. Then again, last I checked, Spielberg’s one of the best directors that ever lived and I still haven’t cracked the top 10, so…
There weren’t any extras in the edition I reviewed, but there is a special edition out there with tons of extra features.
This movie was as enjoyable as it was when I caught it at the cinema earlier this year. It’ll make you smile from beginning to end and confirm the fact that Steven Spielberg, for the most part, is incapable of doing wrong in any shape, way or form. His heart is always in the right place. Don’t buy this particular version, but there’s a special edition of THE TERMINAL out there that is well worth your bucks.