The Terminal Steven Spielberg

The Terminal Steven Spielberg

4
This 2004 romantic comedy stars Tom Hanks as Viktor, an eastern European who gets stranded at New York's JFK Airport after a military coup seizes his country and invalidates his passport because the U.S. government doesn't recognize the new regime. Viktor is stuck in limbo, unable to enter the United States, but unable to return home. Despite speaking no English, Viktor charms the staff at the various shops that fill the airport terminal simply by being a swell guy; he even romances a stewardess (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Meanwhile, the head of customs (played by Stanley Tucci) tries to trick Viktor into stepping out of JFK so that Viktor becomes a problem for the local police, not him.

Spielberg's sentimentality turns this unlikely story into a saccharine fairy tale that is predictable and unbelievable. Hanks' performance is good, particularly his physical comedy, but his wide-eyed, childlike character is too sweet and too good for any story.

A big distraction is the blizzard of product placement that smothers the film. The producers wasted no opportunities in cramming corporate logos into virtually every scene. Okay, we get it: modern airports are shopping malls, but The Terminal looks like late-night advertising programming.

At over two hours, the film lags without any palpable tension or conflict. The Terminal is like waiting for a flight stranded by a snowstorm.

There are no new bonus features on this Blu-ray, just the same ones carried over from the DVD: there's no commentary from Spielberg, and short featurettes about the screenplay, music score and lead actors Hanks and Zeta-Jones suffer from terminal niceness and blandness. Only the featurette about constructing the magnificent set in an old hangar is worth writing home about.

(Paramount)