June 21, 2004

Movie Review: The Terminal.

I can only think of one word to describe this film: Brilliant! I was amazed by the simplicity of the plot combined with the complexity of the characters. The look of the film, the emotions, the fantastic set design, the acting, the technical aspects, it is almost perfect in its simplicity and ease with which it draws you in.

Tom Hanks is Viktor Navorsky, a visitor from Krakozhia. The problem is, is that while in flight there was a military coup in his homeland and his country no longer exists. Because of this action, he is a man with no nationality, and such cannot enter America, nor can he return home, as no flights will travel there. As such he is forced to live in the terminal until a time where his country can work out its problems. During his stay Viktor learns enough English to communicate with the patrons and businesses, comes up with ways to earn money for food, becomes friends with various terminal employees. All the while coming under the eye of the man in charge of security Dixon (Stanley Tucci). He also forges a curious relationship with airline stewardess, Amelia (Catherine Zeta Jones).

Steven Spielberg continues to amaze as a director. His greatness as a director is, of course, already recognized, but what he brings to the table here is truly amazing. He has created a two hour film that takes place entirely in an airport terminal, and made it interesting. His use of lighting and camera movements give us this dynamic look at the terminal which never gets boring and at the end you'll wish you could spend more time there.

Once again, Tom Hanks has put on an acting clinic. If you want to learn a lot about acting in a short period of time, watch Tom Hanks' movies. He is easily one of the greatest actors of all time. His performance here is reminiscent of Castaway. In both films he plays a man stranded, away from everything he has known, and must adapt to his new surroundings in order to survive. Hanks has created such a vivid character here, that even when he is not speaking English, or speaking at all, he expresses so much with just his body movements. A lot of times when an actor uses an accent it can become a distraction, or they don't keep it up for the duration, but Hanks' accent here is so realistic and genuine, you just sink into the character. There are a few moments that really made an impression, one was as Viktor realizes what is going on in his homeland, and he is rushing around to the television sets trying to catch the news, another are the numerous moments when he is struck by the inspiration of the situation. His interaction with the people around the terminal is also great.

Something that this movie does that a lot of movies don't, is to take the time to develop the supporting cast. All of the members of the supporting cast have their own unique stories and they grow as we learn about them throughout the film. They take on a life of their own and stand out among the typical cookie cutter type characters that we see so often on the screen. Catherine Zeta Jones terminally gorgeous but conflicted flight attendant, Stanley Tucci's by-the-book security chief, Diego Luna's lovesick delivery boy, Barry Shabaka Henley's secret carrying janitor. All the notes are hit right on cue.

There are no faults I can find with this movie, the relationships flow naturally and gain their own life. The camera movements are great, dialogue, or lack thereof, is real. The music from John Williams melds right in with it's upbeat bouncy cadence. Spielberg and Hanks prove once again why they are at the top of the heap.


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