The Terminal

A Film Review By Jason L. King

Rating:Rated PG-13 for brief language and drug references.
Starring:Tom Hanks, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Diego Luna
Directed By:Steven Spielberg

Final Grade:

In a recent poll of airline travelers the number one complaint was that the airline had lost their baggage. A few percentage points below that were stuff like increased security, longer wait lines, delayed flights and of course, “I didn’t like nearly dying in the fiery plane crash.” Out of everyone surveyed, I can guess that not a single one said, “I didn’t like not having a country to return to when I got off the plane.” After all who would think such a thing could happen and how could it happen?

Such a scenario takes place in the latest Steven Spielberg/Tom Hanks project, The Terminal. Overseas traveler Viktor Navorski plans on a quick trip to New York City. However upon arrival he learns that his home country of Krakozhia has undergone a political revolution. Due to this Krakozhia and the USA have suspended all air travels and any passport of Krakozhia origin is no good. Without a valid passport and no way to obtain a new one from his now governmentless country, Viktor is forced to stay in the airport terminal. As time goes by, Viktor learns how to make a home out of the terminal, falls in love and meets a group of unexpected friends.

Veteran actor Tom Hanks is lovable in the role as the confused Krakozhian, but too much of a good thing can get old. While we watch his character unfold, it’s easy to see that Hanks is a great actor, it’s just that the script takes so long to do its purpose. By the end of the film you want Hanks to leave the terminal not because you really pity him, but because you assume that if he does, the movie will end. The film also co-stars Catherine Zeta-Jones who doesn’t spend enough time on screen to really make any sort of impact. Her Character lacks depth, and is such an emotional wreck that you don’t really feel bad for her, nor do you want her to end up with the lovable Viktor.

Where the film does succeed is through a strong supporting cast of colorful characters. Lesser-known actors do an outstanding job. You almost instantly fall in love with Gupta, the Indian Janitor and Diego Luna who plays one of the love sick airline employees. Add on top of that some very believable performances by all of the minor characters in the terminal shops and you have a film that really does succeed in a big way when it comes to little things.

The problem with the flick is that it drones on way too long. No pun intended, but this airline terminal tale takes way too long to take off and once it does you start to wonder if the trip was really worth the time delay. This isn’t the first time Director Steven Spielberg has suffered from this problem. Numerous times over the last few years films like A.I., Minority Report, and Catch Me If You Can would all be great films but all suffer from the problem of dragging on forever. No exception was made with terminal either; the film only has a 2-hour runtime but feels like it is easily a 2 and a half-hour film.

I think one of the biggest problems is that the script feels like something we have already seen Tom hanks do before. Hanks has played a similar role in the film Cast Away. Flaunting a shorter runtime and this time a character that is trapped in a populated area rather than a deserted island, we as the viewers are once again find ourselves watching Tom Hanks adapt to a culture that is foreign to him.

In the end, I can’t really say that the Terminal is a good film. I can’t really say that it was a bad film either. It stays pretty much true to anyone’s story of being trapped in an airport due to a delayed flight. Sometimes the people you meet, the stuff you learn, see and do might be a great experience, but there is a lot better stuff you could be doing with your time.

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