HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Terminal
HTS Overall Score:87
Steven Spielberg is a man who has his fingers in a lot of pies. He’s made heart wrenching dramas (ala “La Amistad” and “Schindler’s List”) as well as goofy action movies in the form of “Indiana Jones”, and even Sci-fi (War of the World’s), but you have to admit the man has a love of his craft. He’s still one of the few directors who love to shoot on film instead of digital and he has an eye for a good script. I admit that I had passed on this little gem 10 years ago, because it seemed a rather “meh” film from the trailers. It took many years to finally agree to sit down and view it, but when I did I was completely hooked. Steven is master of many things, but one thing that he can do above all else is play the audience like violinist. Each and every chord of the film resonates with the viewer, a piece of everyone can empathize with the hero in some way and each and every viewer sits, waiting with baited breath for the next chord to strike.
Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks) is from a little Eastern European nation called Krakozhia, which has just had a military coup during the middle of his trans-Atlantic flight. As a result the man is left without a country, so to speak, until the conflict dies down and the U.S. once more recognizes Krakozhia as a nation. For Viktor, all he wants to do is visit New York City, but regulations require that he be detained until deportation papers arrive, or until his Visa is once again valid. Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci), head of the Airport, is the epitome of middle management. He’s doesn’t give two hoots about Viktor and does everything he can to get rid of him. Even trying to “wink wink nudge nudge” get him to escape out the front door and let him be someone else’s problem. Viktor, barely understanding English, simply waits….and waits…and waits, frustrating Frank to the point of hysteria.
While he’s stuck in the airport he gains employment as a construction worker for the new wing (paid under the table of course), and makes friends with the security guard, Mulroy (Chi McBride), Enrique (Diego Luna), Gupta the janitor (Kuma Pallana) and with many a front desk visit, the lovely Dolores (Zoe Saldana). Day by day, week by week, month by month they watch as Viktor patiently waits, and as each day passes by they get to learn a little bit more about his life. To make matters even more complicated, Viktor makes friends with a damaged waitress, a girl constantly looking for the wrong man in all the right places. Here the two frustrated and trapped people (one in a lifestyle spiraling out of control, and one in circumstances beyond his control) find some sort of peace and comfort in the other. By the end of the film you can see the fruit of all these months, all these people that Viktor has touched in some shape or form, and we finally get to see his greatest dream come true.
“The Terminal” is one movie that I’m shocked didn’t even get an Oscar nomination, let alone a win. Spielberg has done many fine films, and this one completely flew in under the radar. I have to say that I loved every minute of it, and really think it’s a film that everyone should watch at least once. As I said earlier, Spielberg knows how to play the audience like a master violinist and here he plucks at your heartstrings to a tune that only he knows. Tom Hanks knocks it out of the ball park as our confused and slightly disoriented foreigner. There was a few times where his accent slipped a little, but it was only noticeable once or twice. I usually don’t like Catherine Zeta-Jones and end up despising her characters, but the limited engagement she had in the film, coupled with her “broken” emotional status actually worked for her. Too much of her would have been a bad thing here, and Spielberg did great at limiting her involvement. She played an important role, but not one that played off of her star power and over utilized the character. Zoe Saldana’s character made me chuckle, for the irony is she’s playing a security specialist who happens to be a “Star Trek” nerd. Fate has a funny way some times.
Stanley Tucci is the epitome of crummy management. Too self-important in a middle management position, power and ego rule the man. If he can’t get his way, then nobody can, and the film reeks of the putrid smell emanating from his rotten character. Working around the clock at a busy airport the rules have become so important that he forgets what it’s like to feel empathy for another person. So, instead of making Viktor’s life a little bit easier, he does everything he can to make the man get angry, to break the law, whatever it takes to just get him …to..go…away. Every person who’s had that annoying middle manager boss, you can just see that person oozing out of Tucci. Actually, the whole movie is a statement of how rules and regulations forget about people. We have MANY rules and regulations in this country, and many of them are there for a reason, but what happens when rules and regulations cross each other, or just barely miss each other in a way that creates a grey spot. That grey spot becomes a Bermuda triangle where people no longer can think clearly. All they can do is stare stupidly into space until a new rule or regulation comes up to help them deal with it. Almost like how a simple sale can’t happen if the computer system crashes. We all know that we should help the customer, but all we’re considering is why the computer won’t do what it’s supposed to do. Here it’s the same thing. Rules and regulations don’t cover this particular scenario and the people get lost in the shuffle. Rules are a fantastic thing in society, but sometimes we get so many of them, that we forget what the rules and regulations are there for….the people.
The film DOES have some flaws for all of my gushing, and these few flaws are what draw it down from a 5/5 film. I felt that Viktor went from barely understanding a phrase of English to learning pretty good English in only a few months and even though he can’t speak it that well, he can certainly understand everyone fine in that short time lapse. The others tend to fall into the 3rd act. The relationship between Enrique and Dolores felt a bit rushed and clichéd, very romantic storytelling, but it made me raise an eyebrow. The rest of them were just little things that tied up too neatly. Especially how Viktor was able to make a fountain out of a restroom in only a few nights without SOMEONE going to the higher ups. It seemed like Spielberg stooped to using a few too many clichés for his own good in that act. All in all, it’s a fantastic film, though, and a sweet story that makes 2 hours and 8 minutes feel like 45 minutes passing.
Rated PG-13 for brief language and drug references
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=17458[/img]Paramount’s 1.85:1 AVC encode looks absolutely fantastic. Brimming with that natural layer of film grain that Steven Spielberg loves so much, it has a few teensy sharpening problems near the beginning, but smooths out to a very natural and pleasing image. Detail is fantastic as you can see every hair on Tom Hank’s head and the threads poking out form his cheap suit. The last few moments of the movie when he steps out into snowy New York weather makes your jaw drop. Actual film has a very unique look and it’s one that I will greatly miss with modern movies and the retirement of new film production. Contrasts are nice and balanced with a very clean and picture perfect skin tone to boot. The colors are very nice look, especially considering the bright area that an airport is and they hold up quite well, without any blooming whites at all. The black levels are beautiful in their own right. Most of the film is brightly lit, but there are a few dark scenes and they are clean of any greying blacks or crushed shadow detail. Thankfully paramount hasn’t applied much if ANY digital tinkering she we’re free of artifacts and other digital techniques that can so easily ruin a film. It keeps the bitrates in the mid 30’s and even spikes into the 40’s once in a while. Bravo Paramount, Bravo.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=17466[/img]TThe 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is a relatively simple track, but it does its job to perfection. There’s no giant explosions, or roar of gunfire to light up the LFE track, but it adds a nice weight film with the blows of hammers against wood, and even makes the walls shake a few times a jumbo jet roars overhead. However, it makes sure all those minute little noises, as well as the hustle and bustle of an airport come through with perfect clarity. Footsteps running down the hallways, intermingled with a child screaming and the creaking and rumbling of a baggage cart all coincide in the same listening space and each one is distinct and recognizable, even among all that chaos. Surround activity is vital to the movie for that’s where all of these noises are emanating from, blending seamlessly into the front soundstage to create an orchestra of many different sounds, turned into the melody of a bustling airport. The dialogue is very clean, very balanced, and the only time I EVER had a problem was when Tom Hanks would mumble in his European accent every once in a while.
• Booking the Flight: The Script, The Story
• Waiting for the Flight: Building "The Terminal"
• Boarding: The People of "The Terminal"
• Take Off: Making "The Terminal"
• In Flight Service: The Music of "The Terminal"
• Landing: Airport Stories
• Photo Gallery
• Theatrical Trailers
“The Terminal” is one that I think SORELY missed an Oscar nomination. It’s not an Oscar bait type of movie, but it’s a sweet and compelling drama that totally sucks the viewer in. It’s not exciting, but it’s still mesmerizing at the same time. I can’t completely explain it, but the actors vanish into their roles and play out Spielberg’s direction to the T. With such incredible audio and video, and decent extras, I have to concur that it’s a must watch, at the very least, and for those of you who are already fans, it’s definitely a must own.
Starring: Tom Hanks, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chi McBride
Directed by: Steven Spielberg, Sacha Gervasi
Written by: Andrew Niccol, Sacha Gervasi
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish, Portuguese DD 5.1
Runtime: 128 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: May 6th 2014
Buy The Terminal Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Must Watch
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