Featured Blu-ray review - The Terminal
May 5th, 2014
The Terminal came out in 2004, just after Tom Hanks' record-breaking run of seven $100 million hits in a row came to an end. The streak ended with The Ladykillers, but many thought The Terminal would start a new streak. It didn't. Now that it has been ten years since it came out, does it feel like it underperformed at the box office. Or was this never going to be a big hit with moviegoers?
The film takes place at John F. Kennedy International Airport. We see the customs line and one of the incoming people is Viktor Navorski from Krakozhia. He's here for a short trip, but his passport is flagged and Viktor is brought first to Thurman, one of the Customs agents, and then to Frank Dixon, Director of Customs and Border Protection at JFK. It seems while Viktor was in the air, there was a military coup in Krakozhia and all travel visas from Krakozhia have been canceled and all flights too and from Krakozhia have been suspended. Until the situation in his home country has been resolved, he has no immigration status. He can't enter the United States and he can't go home. Of course, Viktor doesn't speak many words of English and understands even less, so he's unaware of what is going on. It isn't until he sees a TV report about the coup and starts to panic. He eventually finds a quiet... quietish place to sleep.
The next day, we learn that Frank Dixon's boss is retiring and Frank is next in line for a promotion to Field Commissioner. The job is his, as long as he doesn't blow it by doing something embarrassing... like having someone living in the airport. Viktor has been trying to leave, but he can't get a visa without a passport and he can't get a passport without a country. Frank decides to solve this problem with a simple lie. He tells Viktor that no one will be watching the door for five minutes and he can just leave. Unfortunately for Frank, he's so eager to see Viktor leave so he can call the cops and make him "Somebody Else's Problem" that he tracks him with the camera and Viktor catches on and decides to wait till he can legally leave.
However, Viktor can't just live in the airport, right? He have no money, so he can't buy food. Seeing him adjust to airport life, and Frank trying to stop him, is the bulk of the movie. It is also deep into spoiler territory.
The Terminal is a lightweight movie. It doesn't get into any deep discussion on the human condition. The closest it gets is a look at the heartless bureaucracy and that's not the best part of the movie. It's a little too ham-fisted and Frank Dixon is portrayed as a clichéd unfeeling bureaucrat rather than a real person. Viktor Navorski, on the other hand, is a little too nice to be a real person. This prevents the movie from rising above a simple story, but every once in a while a simple story is all you are looking for. The Terminal offers you that simple story and does it well. The cast is great, including the supporting cast. Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chi McBride, Zoe Saldana, etc. all give strong performances. (I especially like how Zoe Saldana is a Trekkie, given her later Roles.) The writing offers enough laughter and some touching moments, but it can be a little syrupy a times. Overall, it is a good movie, but not as good as a team-up between Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg should be. I think it was the high expectations that really hurt the film's box office numbers.
There are quite a few extras on the Blu-ray, but nothing new on the Blu-ray. There is an eight-minute featurette on the overall story, Booking the Flight: The Script, The Story and a 12-minute featurette on the building of the set, Waiting for the Flight: Building The Terminal. There is a three-part, 32-minute featurette on the cast, Boarding: The People of the Terminal, focusing on Viktor, Amelia, and the supporting cast. Up next is a 17-minute long look at the building of the set, Take Off: Making The Terminal. In Flight Service: The Music of The Terminal is a six-minute look at the score. Finally there's Landing: Airport Stories, a six-minute look at some of the cast and crew's airport stories.
The technical presentation is excellent with no real complaints worth mentioning. The level of detail is always high, while the colors are lively, and the contrast and shadows are spot on. There is never any sign of digital manipulation or compression issues that will distract you. The audio is not as active as I would like, but it is also not barren either. The dialogue is always clear and that's what matters when it comes to movies like this.
The Terminal is a good lighthearted movie that is worth checking out for most and picking up for many. The Blu-ray is shovelware, but at least there's a lot of extras to be found on it and the technical presentation is strong. It's not a bad deal for $16, but it is also not a must have at that price.
Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Filed under: Video Review, The Terminal