DVD Review: The Terminal
Rated PG-13 (Parental Guidance suggested under the age of 13)
Written by Andrew Niccol, Sacha Gervasi, and Jeff Nathanson
Directed by Steven Speilberg
The Terminal is a mildly entertaining comedy with some quirk, a few laughs, and as much gratuitous sappiness as Steven Spielberg could pack into 2 hours. Although much of the movie seems to have been given a lot of attention to quality, it seems very likely that the film was rushed from script straight to shooting without completely reviewing what had been written, as the film is full of plot holes, lacks continuity, and contains boring and unrealistic characters who change as necessary to further the plot. Despite all its faults, I did enjoy watching The Terminal, and I think many other people will as well. If you can suspend your belief, and look beyond the plot holes, lack of cohesion, and generic do-good Spielberg characters, you will find a fun time.
The Terminal takes place in JFK Airport. Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks), a man from a fictitious country who speaks only Russian, gets off a plane and discovers that he is not to be allowed into America. Through a combination of political unrest in his nation’s country and a completely literal interpretation of immigration law, Viktor is not allowed to enter the U.S., but is not allowed to take a plane anywhere else. The movie then tells the tale of Viktor’s confinement in an airplane terminal; his culture shock, language barrier, life adaptations, and general confusion with America.
Even more puzzling than Viktor’s assimilation into our culture is confusion right at the films start. Viktor, who does not understand enough English to know his passport has been denied, is able to understand that he is not allowed into America, and not allowed to return to his own country. His fluency in English fluctuates quite a bit depending on the needs of the script.
More confusion is derived from Frank Dixon, the head of the Immigration and Nationalization Services at JFK (Stanley Tucci), who keeps Viktor trapped in the airport for no reason other than he can. Of all the characters in the movie, Frank is the most undeveloped and confusing. It seems that he was placed into the movie merely to provide a visible antagonist to stop Viktor from entering the US. This role could’ve been interesting and entertaining, but instead his character was given the minimum of attention at the writing stage, and he comes off as completely baffling, unreasonable, and a man whose whim changes as the plot dictates. The remaining characters in the film are a bit easier to understand, but just as realistic. In fact, it could be argued that everyone else contains the same personality, but are merely located in different bodies, a typical problem with Steven Spielberg films. Each person tends to display an initial gruffness, but soon warms up to turn into a good person deep down, and since the film is PG-13, the only explanation for such vapid and sickeningly sweet characters is poor writing.
With all its failings, there are redeeming qualities about the movie. Despite the repetition of the same jokes throughout the movie (language and culture shock), I found the humor to be entertaining, just don’t expect any revolutionary comedy from this film. Another high point is the stellar performance given by Tom Hanks was written as a drab, boring, and hackneyed character. If not for his talent, I doubt there would’ve been much a reason to give this film a second thought.
The DVD contains no special features, no extras, no commentary, and no outtakes. The audio comes in English or French, and there are English, French, and Spanish subtitles. 5.1 Dolby DTS and digital are available, but since there isn’t a single action seen in the movie, there is very little reason for this. Simply put, there is absolutely nothing special about the DVD. There’s the film, and nothing else.
I realize that I have spoken much about the negatives of this film, and said little about its worth. It is not a great film, but it is OK. A comedy is designed to make a person laugh, and if it does that, then a mediocre script can be accepted. I am giving The Terminal a Rent rating, because it did give me a few chuckles. Perhaps if the movie was trimmed down, and the comedy was compacted, it would’ve made a very good film, but the long length only served to emphasize its flaws.
I am giving The Terminal a mediocre 42 thumbs up.