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Steven Spielberg
Tom Hanks, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Stanley Tucci, Chi McBride, Diego Luna, Barry Shabaka Henley, Kumar Pallana, Zoe Saldana
Writing Credits:
Andrew Niccol, Sacha Gervasi, Jeff Nathanson

Life is waiting.

Academy Award-winning director Steven Spielberg teams up with two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks and Oscar winner Catherine Zeta-Jones for this critically acclaimed comedy. After arriving at New York’s JFK airport, Viktor Navorski (Hanks) gets unwittingly caught in bureaucratic glitches that make it impossible for him to return to his home country or enter the U.S. Now, caught up in the richly complex and amusing world inside the airport, Viktor makes friends, gets a job, finds romance and ultimately discovers America itself.

Box Office:
$60 million.
Opening Weekend
$19,053,000 on 2811 screens.
Domestic Gross
$77,032,000 million.

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 128 min.
Price: $22.98
Release Date: 5/6/2014

• “Booking the Flight: The Script, The Story” Featurette
• “Waiting for the Flight: Building The Terminal” Featurette
• “Boarding: The People of The Terminal” Featurette
• “Take Off: Making The Terminal” Featurette
• “In Flight Service: The Music of The Terminal” Featurette
• “Landing: Airport Stories” Featurette
• Trailers
• Photo Gallery


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Terminal [Blu-Ray] (2004)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 6, 2014)

Look at Tom Hanks’ résumé and you’ll find that he has appeared in 18 movies that earned $100 million or more. Examine Steven Spielberg’s body of work and you’ll discover 15 flicks that took in $100 million or more. When they worked together in 1998’s Saving Private Ryan, the result yanked in $216 million. Their partnership in 2002’s Catch Me If You Can brought in $164 million.

Pair them again in 2004’s The Terminal and add a star like Catherine Zeta-Jones and what do you get? Not much at the box office, apparently. Despite all the talent behind the flick, Terminal managed to snag a less-than-inspiring $77 million.

Actually, for a quiet comedy/drama about a guy stuck in an airport, that’s a pretty good gross. It’s simply the expectations that came with a Hanks/Spielberg partnership that made it look lackluster. While not among the best efforts by any of those involved, The Terminal presents a consistently amusing and entertaining piece of work.

At the start of the flick, we meet Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks), a citizen of the (fictitious) Eastern European country Krakozhia. We soon learn that a military coup occurred there while he was en route to New York, and the US government does not yet recognize the new leadership. JFK Airport Customs Director Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci) tries to explain to Viktor - who speaks virtually no English - that he’s currently a “citizen of nowhere” and can’t leave airport property until some form of diplomatic recognition takes place.

This restricts Viktor to the international travel lounge, where he tries to make the best of things. Dixon claims this matter should be resolved soon, but no quick fix occurs. Before long, Viktor’s presence irritates Dixon; he wants the displaced foreigner to leave the airport so he’ll become someone else’s problem. Viktor steadfastly refuses to break the rules and he remains at JFK.

A few running threads emerge as Viktor’s stay extends into days, weeks and months. Dixon receives support to get a promotion to field commissioner, but he has to pass an inspection. Dixon tries to ensure that Viktor can’t get money to eat, which will then force the foreigner to leave. However, catering truck driver Enrique Cruz (Diego Luna) offers Viktor all the food he can eat if he’ll help Enrique win over customs officer Torres (Zoë Saldana). Viktor does so, and he also eventually finds work elsewhere in the airport when his carpentry skills emerge.

Another major thread opens when Viktor meets flight attendant Amelia Warren (Zeta-Jones). The two occasionally bump into each other, and some minor romantic sparks develop, though these are complicated since Amelia dates a married man. The film follows all of Viktor’s various interpersonal relationships as well as Dixon’s attempts to rid himself of his burden.

If nothing else, The Terminal enjoys a great concept. Yeah, it stretches credulity to believe that somehow a person would get stuck in Viktor’s situation, but we buy into recreated dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, so I’ll let the lack of probable reality slide. The idea is clever and fun and theoretically could create an intriguing movie.

For the most part, the film allows the concept to blossom, though as was the case with Catch Me If You Can, Spielberg shows a weakness when it comes to running time. 128 minutes seems awfully long for such a simple tale, and the flick drags at times. Part of the problem stems from the abundance of subplots. Terminal digs into more than it can chew, and that leads to inconsistent storytelling.

Characters and stories come and go at a leisurely pace. A lot of time passes, but we don’t get a great feel for that, as there isn’t much to mark the extended nature of Viktor’s stay. Too many elements receive too little exposition. For example, Cruz and Torres eventually get engaged, but it’s not clear if they’ve ever been out on a date. Head-scratching moments pop up too frequently in the film, and they cause confusion.

On the other hand, the actors all fare well. Hanks proves especially winning as Viktor. Honestly, I worried he’d be little more than a big screen “Balki” from TV’s Perfect Strangers - a cute, cuddly little phony foreigner played simply for laughs. A little of that tone emerges in Viktor, and the film definitely keeps things light. However, Hanks brings real heart and depth to the role. The character remains limited, but Hanks fleshes him out nicely.

One other related pitfall connected to the exceedingly high potential for cutesy moments. Again, some of these occur, but they pass without too much fuss, and most of the flick stays on the “charming” side of the equation. The film rarely seems too cloying or contrived, though some of the bits with Amelia get a bit mawkish.

Despite some flaws, I like The Terminal. It gets tiresome toward the end and threatens never to conclude, and inconsistent storytelling renders it less involving than I’d like. Nonetheless, it presents a clever premise with some amusing situations and good performances. It’s nothing special but it remains enjoyable.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus B

The Terminal appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. I felt pleased with this consistently appealing transfer.

Sharpness worked fine. Little to no softness materialized throughout the film, as the image remained accurate and concise virtually the whole time. Jagged edges and shimmering created no concerns, and edge haloes failed to mar the presentation. As for print flaws, the movie seemed clean.

Terminal presented a stylized palette, as a lot of the film came in shades of green, yellow and blue to match the airport interiors. These colors weren’t all that attractive, but they showed appropriate delineation for the movie’s goals. Black levels came across as accep deep and dense while shadow detail appeared smooth and clear. This was a strong representation of the source.

I felt the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack displayed a pretty heavy emphasis toward the front speakers. Those channels offered solid stereo presentation for music and also spread out effects well. Mostly the set tended toward general ambience that reflected the situations. It came to life more significantly during a smattering of louder sequences, especially when aircraft became involved. Not a lot happened in the surrounds, but they added a decent feeling of place to the film.

Audio quality appeared good. Speech came across as natural and distinct, as I noticed no problems related to intelligibility or edginess. Music demonstrated good bounce and smoothness, and also showed nice dynamics. Effects were accurate and detailed, and they also displayed fine bass response; low-end was rich and tight. Ultimately, the audio of The Terminal didn’t do much to impress, but it worked fine for the material.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the original 2004 DVD? Audio showed a bit more dimensionality and range, and the picture delivered a nice step up. The Blu-ray looked significantly tighter and smoother than the DVD. Even for 2004 DVD standards, that release didn’t offer terrific visuals, so I was pleasantly surprised by the Blu-ray’s improvements.

The majority of the DVD’s extras repeat here, and most of the information comes to us via a series of six featurettes. We start with the eight-minute, six-second Booking the Flight: The Script, The Story. It and its successors use movie clips, behind the scenes elements, and interviews. We hear from director Steven Spielberg, writers Jeff Nathanson and Sacha Gervasi, and producers Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald. We find out what attracted Spielberg to the project, research, themes of the story, and its themes. Despite some interesting moments, the featurette feels a bit too superficial to offer a great look at the subjects.

After this comes Waiting for the Flight: Building The Terminal. It fills 12 minutes and 19 seconds as we hear from Spielberg and production designer Alex McDowell. They discuss the design and construction of the movie’s enormous airport set. Aided by many good shots of the location, this piece gives us a fine look at the subject. We get a nice tour of the set and find out many of its inspirations.

Now we head to Boarding: The People of The Terminal. This piece splits into three smaller programs: “Tom Hanks Is ‘Viktor’” (7:38), “Catherine Zeta-Jones Is ‘Amelia’” (8:40), and “Viktor’s World” (15:29). We find notes from Spielberg, Hanks, Zeta-Jones, Stanley Tucci, Barry Shabaka Henley, Diego Luna, Zoë Saldana, Kumar Pallana, and Chi McBride. They discuss their characters and their approaches to the roles. Some good notes pop up, especially when we hear about the casting of Zeta-Jones, but a lot of the time we just get basic character descriptions. These reiterate information we already know from the movie and make “People” only sporadically useful.

Up next we get Take Off: Making The Terminal, a 17-minute and 13-second program. It presents information from Spielberg, Hanks, Zeta-Jones, Parkes, Henley, Gervasi, McDowell, Tucci, Luna, director of photography Janusz Kaminski, costume designer Mary Zophres, and executive producer Patricia Whitcher. We learn about photography and color design, costumes, visual effects, and the movie’s pacing. Like all the other programs, this one suffers from a generally fluffy tone; there’s lots of happy talk. Nonetheless, it tosses out a fair amount of compelling material about some of the elements. It’s not great, but it’s moderately useful.

During five-minute and 53-second In Flight Service: The Music of The Terminal, we find notes from Spielberg and composer John Williams. They chat about the movie’s score and what was intended with its themes. Williams elaborates well on his influences and goals in this tight program.

For the final featurette, we get Landing: Airport Stories. It goes for five minutes and 41 seconds with information from Spielberg, Zeta-Jones, McDowell, Kaminski, Williams, and Hanks. They chat about unusual airport experiences, or the lack thereof in the case of Spielberg, who states he never had anything out of the ordinary occur. It’s a decent little piece, though none of the stories are terribly compelling.

In addition to two trailers, we get a Photo Gallery we see 59 shots from the set and the film. It’s a bland collection of pictures.

At this point in his career, I don’t know if Steven Spielberg has it in him to make a truly great movie. The Terminal stands as a representative of the modern Spielberg: it has enough charms to make it enjoyable, but it shows too many problems to rise above “pretty good” status. The Blu-ray delivers excellent visuals, positive audio and an informative set of supplements. This becomes a quality release for a light but entertaining film.

To rate this film, visit the original review of THE TERMINAL

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