BG Daily News


The Terminal

Starring: Tom Hanks, Catherine Zeta-Jones
Director: Steven Spielberg
Rating: PG-13 for brief language, drug references
Playing at: Great Escape 12,
Highland Cinemas (Glasgow)
Grade: C+
Reel to reel

Despite Hanks-Spielberg duo, ‘Terminal’ still forgettable

By Micheal Compton, -- 270-783-3247

Thursday, June 24, 2004

While watching the new film “The Terminal,” I kept thinking it would make a great play. The cramped setting, with the emphasis on character development and story over special effects, just has the feel of something that could play well on the stage.

Instead, “The Terminal” is presented as a high-profile summer release with Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg connected to the project. And while Hanks and Spielberg are able to make the story work as a film probably better than anyone else could, it still lacks the sizzle to make it memorable beyond next weekend.

Hanks plays Viktor Navorski, an Eastern European who heads to New York to finish a project his late father started many years ago. Navorski’s plans are put on hold when his country is overthrown while Navorski’s flight is in the air - making the man, in the words of customs official Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci), “unacceptable.”

This setback leaves Navorski stranded in JFK airport, unauthorized to enter the United States and unable to return to a country in the midst of political unrest.

As the days begin to mount, Navorski starts to adapt his life to living in the airport and along the way becomes part of many lives of the people working in the terminal – including an Indian janitor (Kumar Pallana), a food service employ (Diego Luna) smitten by a beautiful INS official and a flight attendant (Catherine Zeta-Jones) stuck in a dead-end relationship.

Navorski’s interaction with the terminal’s employees and his adaptation to his surroundings continues to frustrate Dixon, who wants Navorski to leave and become another government official’s responsibility.

The main story arc of “The Terminal” is the tension of when will Navorski leave the airport, but this really doesn’t play out well in a two-hour film. It’s such a simple conflict that even the roadblocks that Andrew Niccol and Sacha Gervasi continue to throw in just accentuate how easy it would be for Navorski to walk out of the airport.

Spielberg does create an interesting little world within the confined area, but it seems to be a little too perfect. I’m not sure that many airport terminals would have enough space under construction that could pass as a prime New York loft apartment, but that’s the case with Navorski’s “home.”

Hanks’ performance is fine, but his supporting characters have too much of that quirky, wacky feel to provide credible support. Jones’ character seems forced in to provide a romantic interest, while Tucci’s character becomes questionably more hostile with each scene.

“The Terminal” isn’t a complete loss. There are a few isolated moments that work, but it all leads to a payoff that just doesn’t satisfy.

The result is an amiable near-miss that probably looked much better during the pre-production stages.

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