Monday, June 21, 2004

The Terminal

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 21 June 2004 at Loews Boston Common #18 (first-run)

When the careers of every front-line person involved with The Terminal are assessed, this movie probably won't even be a blip. It will quitely slip into the filmographies of Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and Catherine Zeta-Jones relatively unremarked-upon, just something they did between other movies. And, because it sits in close proximity to things that were more ambitious or bigger box-office successes, it may look smaller by comparison.

And it is. The Terminal is just a movie, nothing more... but certainly nothing less. Though a certain part of me considers Steven Spielberg's lifespan too valuable to spend on trifles like this when he could be making the next Minority Report or A.I., I must admit that I enjoyed just about every minute I spent watching this trifle. Lesser talent could have made this movie, and perhaps done a pretty good job, but maybe not quite so well. They might not have been able to create the elaborate set packed with extras, and even if they did, could they have used the camera to pick Hanks' character up or lose him in a crowd as well as Spielberg does? Actors other than Hanks might have had to work much harder to portray Viktor Navorski, to make him seem not quite childlike but an adult in a situation that makes one feel like a child.

The story is simple and economical - Viktor arrives at JFK airport, barely speaking a word of English, but winds up trapped in the international terminal when his country undergoes a revolution, making his visa invalid and while it's impossible to return. So he survives, makes friends, and gets involved in little vignettes involving the other airport staff. Little sparks fly between him and a pretty flight attendant (Zeta-Jones). All the while, the terminal's deputy director finds Viktor an irritant and a blemish on his record which could prevent him from receiving a promotion. Most of the charactes and situations can be described in one sentence, but the talented cast makes them seem genuine. I particularly liked the shy food services worker (Diego Luna) who needs Viktor to act as a go-between with a pretty INS worker (Zoë Saldana).

The Terminal is small stories, told with affection by talented storytellers. In addition to those listed above, the story came from Andrew Niccol, who needs to make more movies, and Sacha Gervasi. Gervasi wrote the script with Jeff Nathanson, who had contributed the screenplay to Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can. Speaking of Catch Me If You Can, this is John Williams's second fun, bouncy soundtrack to a Spielberg movie in a row; it's neither bland wallpaper nor something that sounds like every other Williams score.

It would be a shame if movies with the stature of The Terminal were all that the people involved did, and Spielberg does lean on his pet themes a little too hard toward the end, but outside of that context, this movie's a charmer.

1 comment:

vania said...

i watched this movie is great mr chairman globo tv mr roberto irineu marinho he put jail in my city my city is my terminal my city is americana sao paulo brasil he say nobody get out this city