The Terminal movie poster
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The Terminal movie poster

The Terminal Movie Review

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Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, two of the most powerful men in Hollywood, team up for their third venture in The Terminal, a movie that proves a story set entirely in a single airport terminal can actually be entertaining.

It isn't as powerful as Saving Private Ryan, nor is it as interesting as Catch Me If You Can, but The Terminal has everything needed for a good movie - good acting, a good script and lots of great characters. The movie is funny from beginning to end - especially in the first half - and the supporting cast - most notably Kumar Pallana as the hilarious Indian janitor - supports Hanks' performance with ease. There is little reason not to see such a film.

Hanks, who is known as one of the most consistent and reliable actors in Hollywood, has been playing it risky this year, going with two out-of-the-ordinary characters in 2004. His first performance of the year, as the eccentric criminal mastermind in The Ladykillers, was fabulous, and in The Terminal, he plays a man from an imaginary foreign country who can barely speak accent - and when he does, he has a strong accent. If that's not risky, from both an acting perspective and plot perspective, I don't know what is, but Hanks pulls it off. There is no Oscar nomination in his future for the role, but his comedic timing is great, his character quite believable. Although Eastern European people apparently have never seen a beeper before (he runs through the terminal shouting to it as though the people on the other end can hear him), Hanks creates a very likable and reasonable character that grows in the two hour story.

The story also leaves plenty of room for Hanks and the other characters to flex their muscles; within the single terminal, the movie covers all sorts of themes, from love to friendship to pride to courage. Some aspects of the plot work better than others, but the synergy of all are very effective. For example, the storyline revolving around Stanley Tucci's character works much better than the one that deals with Hanks' relationship with Catherine Zeta Jones, which, basically, never clicked for me. I never felt much chemistry between the two, and their relationship seems forced for the sake of getting to a desired result.

The movie does feel a bit drawn out at the end, as some of the comedy fades away, only to be replaced with more (too much) sentiment. It is quite obvious that Spielberg is taking a stab at the rather pathetic loopholes that this country has regarding immigrants, drugs from Canada and so on and so forth, and at a few times things seem a bit forced, and a bit too deep for an otherwise hilarious comedy.

The Terminal is a laugh-out-loud comedy with great acting and a lot of fun jokes. It also has some deeper meaning as well, but works much better as a comedy than as a commentary on modern day government. Treat as such, and it will be very difficult to not enjoy yourself.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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