The Terminal Review
When asked which filmmakers have influenced me the most, one name that immediately pops into my head is Steven Spielberg. His career has spanned decades, during which time he has become an archetypal Hollywood director – a man of power and resourcefulness, a filmmaker whose output has remained steady and accomplished whilst many of his contemporaries have fallen by the wayside. His skill at capturing the human aspect of a story is unrivalled, and although this has led many to label him as over-sentimental and saccharine-sweet, his filmography does actually contain some fine examples of slowly drawing the viewer into the film and challenging their emotions without ever descending into melodramatic cheese. He may have only made a handful of classics – Jaws, E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark and Saving Private Ryan – but all of his films merit an in-depth analysis, with his latest, The Terminal, being no exception.
Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks) is on his way to New York when a vicious coup d'état breaks out in his home country, Krakozhia, rendering his passport useless and his national identity void. Trapped in JFK airport with clear instructions that he is not allowed, under any circumstances, to leave the confines of the international terminal, Navorski must try and create a new life – and perhaps discover America along the way…
The marketing pull to The Terminal, besides the wattage of Hanks and Spielberg, is the premise: it may appear to be a writing gimmick on the surface, yet a similar incident did actually take place in the real world (that traveller, again of Eastern European origins, is still stuck in Charles de Gaulle airport). I certainly felt that the story warranted further inspection; it intrigued me since the prospect of living the remainder of my life in a superficial and linoleum-encrusted terminal building terrifies me. One of the writers behind the project, who devised the story, is none other than Andrew Niccol, whose genius shone through in Gattaca and The Truman Show – he is perfectly adept at crafting scenarios where one man is placed so far out of their depth, so alienated from everyone and everything around them, that their struggle takes on almost epic proportions.
So, besides the intriguing premise, what else does Spielberg's forty-fifth film as director offer? Well, The Terminal is a film that boasts several great aspects, ranging from Hanks' Oscar-worthy performance to set design that is jaw-dropping, wrapped up in a story that is engaging and, ultimately, rewarding. It's no surprise to discover that The Terminal is technically sound, bearing all the traditional Spielbergian hallmarks – an uplifting John Williams score, sublime Janusz Kaminski cinematography and an accomplished script that has a satisfying story arc.
Navorski's interaction with this strange new world around him – America personified in neon lights, seemingly-spotless shops and airport personnel – is a fascinating experience that is brought so vividly to life through Hanks' adeptness and talents as an actor. The emotions that Navorski endures – witnessing Krakozhia's bloody implosion, the reality of living in a claustrophobic terminal building, loving (or lusting after?) beautiful air stewardess Amelia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) – feel real and audiences will immediately sympathise for the character. The supporting cast, including the aforementioned Zeta-Jones as Navorski's love interest and Stanley Tucci in a wonderfully brooding turn, bolster the film's quality and add a mixture of humour and drama to the proceedings. I must also point out Wes Anderson's alumni Kumar Pallana – he may have a small role in The Terminal, but he manages to upstage almost everyone around him.
Similar in tone to Catch Me If You Can – and indeed most of Spielberg's other pictures – this is not going to impress those who dislike the director and his films, yet I thoroughly enjoyed The Terminal. It's irreverence and charm is undeniable, a wholesome film that can be enjoyed by all. Special mention must also go to the unexpected climax – a poignant resolution to the story, a catharsis that makes Navorski's journey all the more worthwhile.
Available in three separate versions – widescreen, fullscreen and a three-disc limited edition – I will be reviewing the one-disc widescreen edition.
The menus are basic, well-designed and easy to navigate.
Superb, as one would expect from such a recent studio release. The Terminal's set design – a working replica of JFK's international terminal – is shown in eye-popping clarity; colours are vibrant and no compression signs are visible. The only flaw I could spot was during one scene when the transfer appeared to be a little bit darker than the theatrical print.
A choice of DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks are on offer – I could detect very little difference between the two, with both mixes using the surrounds at regular intervals to enhance the feeling that the audience really are inside a busy airport terminal, as well as being used to reproduce Williams' orchestral score. Dialogue is clear throughout.
None whatsoever – all the extras have been reserved for the three-disc limited edition, which boasts multiple featurettes and John Williams' score in full.
Yet another home run for Spielberg – an enjoyable drama with elements of humour skilfully woven in, The Terminal is an ideal Christmas gift that can be watched by the entire family. Presented on a disc with excellent audio and video, those wanting extras are advised to invest in either the R1 three-disc limited edition or the upcoming R2 two-disc special edition, although this DVD's value for money cannot be ignored.
Last updated: 22/05/2018 16:02:17