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Awesome: 23.08%
Worth A Look37.82%
Just Average: 23.72%
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11 reviews, 90 user ratings

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Terminal, The
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by Robert Flaxman

"The movie and the protagonist are both somewhat lost."
3 stars

The Belgian cartoonist Hergé was once asked, late in life, what the idea for his next Tintin story was going to be, and he said that he wanted to set the entire narrative within an airport, explaining how he found it fascinating how much of humanity can come together in such a small space. Hergé never actually used the idea, but an examination of the same feeling creeps into Steven Spielberg's latest film, The Terminal. Most of us can identify with Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks)'s plight as an exaggeration of the delays we've all experienced at one time or another; the sense of helplessness is always palpable when you can't get to where you're going but also have no real way of returning to where you were coming from.

Of course, Navorski's story (loosely based on the plight of Merhan Nasseri, an Iranian who, due to lost papers and various bureaucratic hangups, has been living in Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport since 1988) is more than a small exaggeration of that feeling. A stranded traveler could take a shuttle to an airport hotel; Navorski, officially a citizen of nowhere as his country hashes out a military coup, is forbidden by airport security to leave the international terminal at JFK. Making do the best he can, Navorski takes up residence at Gate 67 (which is under construction and thus out of the way of normal airport traffic), learns serviceable English, and makes a few friends among the workers at the airport. Interestingly, The Terminal chose to adapt Nasseri's story in relatively comedic fashion. The story itself seems to lend an air of desperation to the proceedings, but the filmmakers do their best to moderate it.

Unfortunately, that's the point at which The Terminal begins to break down. While the concept itself is interesting and the universal truths lurking in the background have the potential to be poignant, the film ruins a lot of the positives by botching the execution. For one thing, it largely eschews recognizably human characters, choosing instead to populate its microcosmic world with a host of rather silly caricatures, from the "vindictive authority figure" (head of airport security Frank Dixon, played by Stanley Tucci) to "the foreign guy who says and does funny things" (janitor Gupta Rajan, played by Kumar Pallana) to the "forced love interest" (flight attendant Amelia Warren, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones). It's not that humor is totally uncalled for, but there's no real evidence that the humor here is supposed to be satirical, and that's the only way it could really work. Absent that excuse, the way the characters interact feels phony in too large a percentage of the scenes.

Then there are the plots it puts the characters in. Navorski's relationship with Amelia is most interesting for how it doesn't end, and Amelia is a very strangely written character - one who practically seems intended to give flight attendants a bad name. (Her routine appears to be: fly for two weeks, arrive in New York, sleep with a married man whom she encourages not to divorce his wife, complain about it to strangers, then fly away again.) In a more serious film, Amelia might be an interesting character study, but her place in The Terminal is questionable, stuck in an oddly minimalist subplot in the middle of a much more standard comedy/drama.

Other plots have problems too. Navorski helps hook up a lovelorn food service worker (Enrique Cruz, played by Diego Luna) with an INS agent (Dolores Torres, played by Zoe Saldana), but it's another strangely written plot - from what we are shown, Cruz merely loves Torres from afar, attempting to work up the nerve to ask her out and using Viktor to gather information about her. Yet later, Viktor presents Torres with a ring from Cruz, and she greets her mystery man at the Sbarro with the ring firmly in place. For us, however, this is the first time they've met, and while it has been established that Torres knows Viktor was chatting her up on behalf of someone else, it strains credulity to think this plot would ever play out in real life as it does on screen.

Of course, The Terminal is a Hollywood movie, and attacking it for things that a lot of Hollywood movies have done over the years seems a trifle unfair (heck, ABC ran Dharma and Greg for five years based on the premise of two people getting married just after meeting each other). Regardless, is it too much to ask that The Terminal have a character who behaves as a real person might? Chi McBride's maintenance worker Joe Mulroy probably comes the closest, and he's given very little to do. Even Navorski, the supposed anchor of the film, does some rather strange things, like random construction work in the middle of the night.

Despite all its flaws, though, The Terminal is not that bad of a movie to watch. It is certainly skillfully directed with Spielberg at the helm, and John Williams' score melts rather pleasantly into the background. The performances are for the most part good, even if the characters they're filling out aren't. The set design is impressive. Enough of the jokes are well-executed to keep the audience laughing for most of the film. Still, it could have been so much more.

The problem with The Terminal isn't that the story of Viktor Navorski isn't worth telling - it's that it was worth telling better.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=10087&reviewer=385
originally posted: 10/10/04 05:00:40
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User Comments

12/23/13 Michelle O the "romance" didn't fly but Hanks made the rest work 4 stars
6/14/10 fartvenugen as fulfilling as two crackers filled with poop. 2 stars
7/07/09 *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
7/21/08 the dork knight All this sugary sweetness makes you want to puke 2 stars
8/13/07 yousef contrived, cliched rubbish - rubbish. not a good film by any stretch. piss poor. 1 stars
8/08/07 EZ $$ worth a buy 4 stars
5/30/07 ES I didn't buy into any of the romance but I liked this movie very much 4 stars
3/26/07 David Pollastrini interesting subject 4 stars
3/26/07 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
3/12/07 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
1/14/07 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
11/24/06 Khadija a "NICE" to watch movie.. 3 stars
11/15/06 J.Pet Has to be one of my most HATED films! 1 stars
11/13/06 matt Dull. Contrived. Cliche. Avoid like the plague. 1 stars
8/03/06 EZ Very different plot but great filmmakers pulled it off 4 stars
6/24/06 MP Bartley Slushy guff, but Spielberg makes it work - just. The crisp bag scene is hilarious. 3 stars
5/25/06 William Goss Borderline force-fed fluff. Lightweight, and proud of it, which both helps and hinders it. 3 stars
3/02/06 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
9/01/05 Tom Burns Tom Hanks gives an unforgettable performance. 5 stars
8/18/05 ES Has a gump feel to it, you can't help but be impressed with how he makes money to eat 4 stars
8/05/05 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
6/04/05 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
5/10/05 Simon Very charming. Flawed, but makes you forget your ordinary life- a film's primary objective. 4 stars
4/02/05 Cindy A little slow, but I love Tom Hanks and enjoyed the move. 4 stars
3/23/05 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
2/21/05 Rosa Zared BB R word word word word 2 stars
1/09/05 KCobain Much more than fluff. Come on; look closer mate. 5 stars
1/01/05 MyGreenBed It's rare when I can't finish a movie, Terminal is appropriately named. 1 stars
12/24/04 Freddy boring and annoying 2 stars
12/18/04 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
12/04/04 Helge Samuelsen A warm and funny movie, that I really enjoyed. 5 stars
12/01/04 the Grinch Improbable but based on true story of Iranian refugee who lived in Paris airport terminal 4 stars
11/27/04 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
10/23/04 UMER tom is probably the best actor around these days 4 stars
10/01/04 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
7/25/04 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
7/21/04 Nobody This movie is funny go see it right now 5 stars
7/20/04 Valerie A different, but very enjoyable film. A nice change of pace from all the other movies... 4 stars
7/18/04 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
7/17/04 Richard Awesome 4 stars
7/17/04 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
7/16/04 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
7/10/04 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
7/01/04 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
6/29/04 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
6/26/04 ron Enjoyable. Totally realistic? No, but it's a MOVIE so have some good laughs. 4 stars
6/26/04 Todd Bertuzzi What a great movie, very nice, funny, heartwarming. Allen Roberts doesn't have a clue! 5 stars
6/24/04 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
6/22/04 allen roberts Hope I never meet anyone who ranked this movie "awesome". 1 stars
6/22/04 Gray 100% harmless and funny 5 stars
6/21/04 steve amusing and lovable 4 stars
6/21/04 ajay Dude, Kumar from the Wes Anderson movies is in it. F'in Awsome!!! 5 stars
6/21/04 Marc Basque Spielberg's still got it. One of the best movies of the years. 5 stars
6/21/04 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
6/20/04 The More You Know Great Father's Day movie featuring Hanks & the greatest jazz photo ever! 5 stars
6/19/04 Desperado Great movie Hanks and Stevie are back again in a great story, acting and storytelling r A+ 5 stars
6/18/04 Bryan Ehg, i've seen Tom Hanks in many other films. This ones just allright. 3 stars
6/18/04 Micheal Jordan Hoop it up! 5 stars
6/17/04 Jawie Not good. No point to the story. 2 stars
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  18-Jun-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 23-Nov-2004

  03-Sep-2004 (12)


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