It may be interesting for you to know that The Terminal is Steven Spielberg´s shortest running feature film since the first Jurassic Park. That being said though, it feels like it´s the longest. The film drags and plods along until one´s interest is completely shifted from the screen to their watch. In The Terminal, Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks) arrives in a large New York City airport only to find that he can not go out into the city nor go back home because his country has fallen into a coup. Without his country being recognized as a legitimate regime, Navorski´s passport and visa are deemed worthless. The customs official of the airport, Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci) allows Navorski to wait in the airport´s arrivals lounge until his country can get things worked out, but forbids him to step out onto American soil. Navorski is left to survive by whatever means he can within the airport.
This scenario at times feels a bit like Castaway with different surroundings or E.T. with Navorski being the alien trying to accomplish his mission before he can return home. In this case the mission is for Navorski to fulfill a promise he made to his father (I won´t spoil what the promise is, but I will say it´s not all that enthralling). Either way though, this film falls short of both of those great films.
During Navorski´s stay at the airport there is a plethora of subplots and supporting characters that tangle around the main plot of the movie. Some of these supporting characters hold our interest very well, such as Frank Dixon, while others seem a waste of time, such as Amelia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) who plays Navorski´s love interest.
This film seems closer to a character study for Steven Spielberg than his past films which are much more plot driven. The comedy elements of the movie lie somewhere between an old Chaplin film and the french actor/director Jaques Tati, but all of the sight gags (people slipping on a wet floor, a machine that shoots quarters into Navorski´s face) grow old quickly.
Tom Hanks manages to play Navorski with the perfect amount of enthusiasm and humanity. Without this, the film would be close to a total loss. Ultimately, It seems like Steven Spielberg´s goal was to recreate the feeling of a French new wave film, with the characters being the focus rather than the plot, but despite a couple of interesting scenes the entire film falls short of that goal and leaves the audience eager to see the credits roll.
I must say that I thoroughly appreciate what Spielberg was attempting on this movie. If there is one thing that Spielberg can do well, it´s take chances. Most of the time the chances pay off for him, but occasionally they don´t.
This time they don´t.
Rating: 4 out of 10
Running time : 121 minutes.
Rated: PG-13 (for brief language and drug references).
Now showing: Tinseltown in Lubbock.
(Sam Smith is a movie reviewer for The Herald.) Posted to MyPlainview: JUNE 24, 2004 15:04 CST