The Terminal

Dan Goldwasser Movie Reviews

Went to see the new Spielberg film, The Terminal tonight with Matt. Let’s see, how do I best sum this one up? Disappointing.

The basic premise is simple: Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks) is stuck in the airport after a coup at home renders his passport invalid. He can’t enter the USA since his visa is voided, and he can’t go home since the country is in revolt and upheaval. So, he is caught in the cracks in the bureaucracy, made even more frustrating by the evil-doings of security administrator Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci). Toss in an attempt at romance with airline stewardess Amelia (Catherine Zeta-Jones), and you have a mildly entertaining film that ultimately left me feeling emotionally unsatisfied.

This is not a romantic comedy. Half the time, it’s not even a comedy. But it’s not a drama either. And it’s not a romance. And I dunno what it’s trying to be, but while it’s fun to watch certain things in the film (like how Viktor survives for 6 months in the airport), the emotional growth of the film is basically nil. His relationship with Amelia goes nowhere, and in the end, she actually comes across as a confused bitch who makes all the wrong choices. Why Viktor ultimately stays in the airport (and needs to get into New York) instead of just going home when he’s finally given the opportunity feels like a hashed rewrite that ultimately fails. We’re supposed to believe that this is the big reason he stayed all this time, but ultimately it’s lame and unsatisfying.

Leave it to Spielberg to manage to integrate the whole father/son relationship element into yet another of his films. But this time, the father doesn’t exist, and we don’t have any connection with him until the last 10 minutes of the movie. And we’re supposed to be expected to accept that? Dixon was right when he called Viktor “unacceptable” – but I think he was referring to the script.

The set design, however, is amazing. This is the coolest film set I’ve seen – they really built out a full terminal! But since it’s a set, it allows the camera to fly through the space providing some interesting expansive shots. The music by John Williams is fun, but doesn’t even show up for the first 20 minutes or so. He’s got some nice themes, but since the film is so emotionally flat, I’d have to say that the music probably makes a better album experience than it does as a film music experience. Ah well.

The film opens up next week against Dodgeball. And given what I’ve seen from this one, my money’s on Rawson’s flick. (I’ll have a review of the final film next week when I see it.)