The Terminal Movie Review – Go Nowhere

Tom Hanks in The Terminal
[Pic: terminal movie]

Steven Spielberg, other than creating visual magnificence’s in his movies, has also a soft side. The last few films, spoke of it, way too much. Despite the soft side was even well known from Schindler’s List and Amistad, the last four/five films have brought out an interesting side of Spielberg. Having been inspired hugely by Spielberg films, I’ve created myself, a personality of Spielberg to be a technical showman. And Schindler’s List was nothing but a different film for this showman. But Artificial Intelligence and Catch Me If you Can broke those assumptions on him. They showed how Spielberg has grown-over the techie image. I believe, Spielberg has evolved into a style of filmmaking that allows him to take a simple story and weave it into an amazing masterpiece.

The Terminal is one such film. More than the premise of the story, the humane side stands out, clearly displaying the different arena of film making, where Spielberg now treads. The film talks about a man who gets stranded in the JFK Airport, New York because of a legal logical hole in the law. No one could do anything about it, just like Victor Navorski. He couldn’t get anywhere. He abides the law, stays in the airport terminal for months and finally gets a chance to step in the American soil. What would he do ?

With such an interesting storyline, the screenplay could practically non-exist. The story itself builds up an interesting screenplay and it’s way too simple for you to relate to it. The story being inspired for the real life of Merhan Nasseri, an Iranian refugee who was stranded in the Paris airport due to a different issue and still lives there to tell the world his story. Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can [CMIYC] also had a similar inspiration of Frank W. Abagnale Jr. But CMIYC was a little dry for the kind of story it promised. But The Terminal, refuses to be like its predecessor. Instead it’s quite hilarious and very comical at times, making you constantly wait for whats-gonna-happen.

Tom Hanks [Victor Navorski], the all-proven Hollywood actor, takes off from the very scene where he stumbles upon an unforeseen situation with the airport authority in JFK terminal. With his accent perfectly matching his looks of a foreigner, he says “Niw yarc citee”. Tom Hanks scores full points in the sequences that are funny but yet have their sad humane side. The way he climbs the chairs to have a close look at the television, which hangs upon his head. The way he ignorantly says “Homm Contree, I’m not afraid of homm contree”. Leaves a huge mark of his signature acting like what he did in Forrest Gump, Cast Away and The Road To Perdition. I hope Victor Navorski walks away with the year’s academy award for best actor.

Catherine Zeta Jones is also there. She is just there. But this guy Stanley Tucci as Frank Dixon does match up the performance of Tom Hanks. He is too good to be a bad guy.

Other interesting references are the janitor/juggler Gupta Rajan’s[Kumar Pallana] reference to Madras and how he came to the America. Finally this cute Indian’s sacrifice makes one feel so nice. This is the second nicest encounter of Indians after the programmer in Matrix Revolutions. The other reference is Amelia’s [Catherine Zeta Jones] reference to Napoleon’s last days at St. Helena and how his Ego saved him. Too new and exciting references in a Spielberg film.

With that the kind of ending, you would definitely laugh louder and turn back to your sides to see what other think of it. The forthcoming films of Spielberg like the War of the Worlds and Indiana Jones 4 might be huge blockbusters but they may not be of this genre. So it’s time we enjoy and appreciate this kind of Spielberg’s film making, inspiring him to continue with movies of the same genre.

I certainly forgot something. Hey, Kamal!! here is your next MunnaBhai. This one is certainly worth the try!!.

19 responses to “The Terminal Movie Review – Go Nowhere”

  1. Ajay Avatar

    Ah! There….at the last line… It always flashes Kamal Haasan, when u think about Tom Hanks’ Indian counterpart and similar comparision drawn b/w Speilberg and ManiRatnam.
    However, Speilberg is way ahead of Mani with his out-of-world imagination & execution.

    BTW, Tom Hanks has proved his comic-act in movies like BIG, You’ve got mail and Sleepless in Seattle…. Defenitely a CLASS actor!
    Kamal & Tom are far beyond the ‘awards’ mantle 🙂


  2. Prabhu Avatar

    Amazing movie. After reading your review I watched the movie yesterday. I wanted to see in movie hall. But in bangalore situation is very bad 😦 . The only decent movie hall is Innovative Multiplex and there was violence yesday at the complex. And they have decided to shut down the theatre.

    Thiruttu VCD Thyagarajan came to the rescue and saw the movie. Excellent movie.

    It would be great if Kamal acts in the remake. But to make sense to tamil audience, the story line can be modified this way. Sri Lankan guy comes to Chennai. And is stranded in chennai airport 🙂 Abirami can play catehrine zeta jones role. And Nasser as the airport head. And I hope this movie doesnt have any songs!!!!
    And SPB as that gundu police 🙂

    Direction: Singeetham Srinivasa Rao
    BGM: Illayaraja

    hmmm..ninaipadhellam nadandhu vittaal


  3. Lazy Geek Avatar

    Speilberg is way ahead of Mani with his out-of-world imagination & execution.

    Ajay, Pretty true. One reason could be because of their technical capabilities. That gives their comfort to execute whatever they think. We cannot build castles in air. Probably that’s one reason.


  4. Lazy Geek Avatar

    Prabhu, Good that you liked the film. And about the tamil version, why should be bother Lanka again. That might seem like a repetition of Thenali. Wouldn’t it ?

    Nasser was the prefect fit. I did think of Prakash Raj too. And SPB as gundu police. Well, that shows the shankar fan in you.


  5. Prabhu Avatar


    Itj Ogay. Lets make Kamal a person from Maldives

    Remember thiruda thiruda. SPB is a CBI Officer(!!!!!!!!!!!!) and malaysia vasudevan refers to him as gundu police 😉

    Guess you were thinking about Kadhalan 😀


  6. Latha Avatar

    Lazy, I was waiting for ur review on this movie. I saw it a couple of weeks back- DVD :).. i simply dont know when this movie will be released in blore. There were riots at Multiplex when me and friends went to watch Bride and Prejuidice. Anyway, Terminal is a typical Tom Hanks/(Recent)Spielberg Movie.. though i found it a little slow moving in the second half… how can u not mention that little cute candle light dinner lazy? :)… also… how does Poornam Viswanatham seem for the Gupta Rajan Role?…


  7. Latha Avatar

    And yes, like Prabhu said… the tamil remake should NOT have any songs…. 🙂


  8. divya Avatar

    I didnt like the movie. Though Tom Hanks (being Tom Hanks) acts his part out neatly. The movie hardly has any semblance of truth save for Hank’s accent and the structural similarity to the true story u mentioned. I was very disappointed with spielberg with this movie. After “Catch Me If You Can”, I had high expectations.. but I guess he just cant keep pulling rabbits out of his hat all the time! 🙂

    Just like CMIUC, the titles are very creative in this movie too. But still, the story and the acting of the rest of the cast leaves a lot to be desired… no i dont think the indian guy acted well either.. he was theaterical, just like the rest of the cast.


  9. aNTi Avatar

    Hey Lazy.. watched this movie first day here. But the Indian reference did not go that well with me. Mainly cos I can believe Victor Navorski can exist cos apparently he did (though a diff name)! But the Indian character.. was totally unbelievable which was out of place for me in this nice movie. I mean, a paan wallah kills the hafta taking policeman and escapes to the US ? Did not sink in with me!


  10. Lazy Geek Avatar

    Latha, I did like that surprise candle light dinner and P.Viswanathan may be a little too soft that role. Don’t you think. How about Nagesh who can take the role to newer heights ?

    Divvya, Speilberg seems to be amused by real life stories. After an array of movies with tech gizmos, probably he starting to look on the humane side of life.

    And yeah the titles were classy. Good that you noticed the titles of Catch me if you can. They really rocked. With that 70’s mus’ic and the disco style titles, CMIYC had a great start.

    Anti, I agree the reasoning of Indian guy was too shallow. However didn’t you think Spielberg rigged at indians for being sadistic.


  11. Shiva Avatar

    Hi Geek….

    ellam sari…athu enna kusumbu in the last line..

    Enna enga thalai kku sonthama padam edukka theriyatha? ella nadikka theriyatha….

    He is next to perunthalai man(Sivaji). Don’t insult him by such comments…Ok…Ok…Ok…



  12. curses Avatar

    >>Enna enga thalai kku sonthama padam edukka theriyatha?<<

    soleerukaama irundhurukalaamo? 🙂


  13. CrazyGeek Avatar


    Already Speilberg had portraied Indians as Monkey Brain Eaters in his Indiana Jones – Temple of Doom.

    Your Review hindered me to watch this movie. Have to check in Brussels theatres now.


  14. Ramya Avatar


    got directed to this site, while i was chking out mayaavi on ravi’s.
    and am now tempted to comment, cos I’m fresh from seeing The Terminal. Wanted to see The Village, but it only shows matinee, so settled for Terminal, last nite. Wanted to write a review today, but havent managed to find the time yet.
    If you consider that the film had the constraint of unity of place (from aristotle’s theory of unities), it has managed to do quite well. Keeps you entertained largely.
    My crib though, is that that navorski’s reason for staying behind is rather slender. I mean,touching and all, but realistic? Even giving Speilberg all the artistic license he wants, a cynic like me is tempted to smirk. Especially when Catherine Zeta Jones lets her eyes fill after navorski’s opened his can of peanuts for her! Gimme a break, i’d say!
    but, give it to hanks. yet another award winning performance.
    However, if i write more, i think i’ll steal the thunder from my own review. Wll stop, leaving you with an idea to ponder over.
    when you think desi, hanks-look alike aamir khan must get his due. he’d be a good navorski.


  15. R S Prasanna Avatar
    R S Prasanna

    [Continued]Even “Catch Me If You Can”… I see that many here hold that movie in great esteem. I thought the movie’s crux was in that scene in the Newspaper/Printing Press where finally Hanks catches with Leo, and there is this wonderful conversation that ensues… “What is real”…”I don’t know what is the truth anymore”… or similar words to that effect.

    And I was stunned. Wow! what an angle to the story! The wrong-doer, crumbling under his own wrong! That he is chased by the poloce and caught by them becomes immaterial in that moment of realisation … much before all that, something far more powerful – and merciless – is chasing him all his life, and now has caught up with him… wow! Like Hanks says,”You think this is between you and me?”… that line takes a whole different meaning, could have lifted itself – and the movie – to a whole different plane.

    But… that scene, lasts about 5 minutes on screen… Most of the movie wasted on Leo’s exploits… unfortunate – for the movie.

    Even “Schindler’s List”. To put it plainly… 75% of the movie we show he is bad… 5% we show Transformation… 10% we show he is Good… and the last 10%, when everybody around him suddenly starts crying when he is about to leave them, we are – somehow – expected to sob, too… oh, sob I did! To see a movie that “could have been…!”

    I would really like to hear your views on this.

    PS: I almost forgot: For those of you wondering, Yes, you should watch Terminal, for its first one and a half hours, and especially the acting of this great guy called Tomm Hanks! And for the excellent cinematography!


  16. R S Prasanna Avatar
    R S Prasanna

    Hi Guru,

    Long time.

    Anyway, was waiting to come back with something interesting. Saw Terminal yesterday (Sree, 4pm).

    Imagine this scenario. You are watching this guy performing on stage. He is a juggler. He walks in a grand manner on to the stage, and the first few minutes he zaps you with his skill… by the time he reaches the end of his act, you are completely in love with him, and are just waiting for him to take the bow, so that you can give him a resounding, standing ovation… and then he drops one ball… then another… and then one more… you are stunned… and then another… you are shocked… the whole audience is silent, uncomprehending… and then he falls down… picks up the balls, and makes an exit… head down… Even after he has left, it takes a while for you to take stock of what has happened… and then you clap… seated. Then you sigh.

    The first one hour 20 minutes of The Terminal was superb – excellent direction, screenplay – very good “interweaving” of characters to bring out ‘smile-inducing’ pleasant scenes all throughout. Enjoyed every minute of it. But…

    To spoil it all… came the last 40 minutes or so. And this is the most cruciual part of a movie. Deja Vu! How many movies, that not only began well, but also had an extremely good “middle” – and then… you can only sigh… and clap… seated.


  17. Lazy Geek Avatar

    Hey Prasanna,

    Thats a nice neat piece of a review you made on terminal. you were right in saying about the last few minutes of the movie. But then you need to end a movie. right. it’s a pressure on the director to end the movie in way audience would like it. so did spielberg.

    And yeah, CMIYC should be well listened to be apperciated. especially that press scene that you mentioned. probably thats why spielberg gave lots of importance to the dialogues which isn’t a usual fare in his movies.

    But on Schindler’s list, because it was a kind of inspired indirectly from the nazis, he had to make it that way. But if you imagine, Schindler must have potrayed like that devlish to be seen as the ‘nice man’ in the end. it was probably inevitable. i loved it, however.


  18. Maverick Avatar

    “It would be great if Kamal acts in the remake. But to make sense to tamil audience, the story line can be modified this way. Sri Lankan guy comes to Chennai. And is stranded in chennai airport 🙂 ”

    No. Like Kragozhia, it should be Salaamia in Tamil. Remember ‘Vikram’? :-))

    Anyway, I found ‘Terminal’ a bit too cinematic at many places. A different attempt though, and deserves appreciation.


  19. Maverick Avatar

    And not to forget that last few scenes for some reason reminded me of VasoolRaja MBBS. The scenes where the airport crew stands in support of Tom Hanks like how the hospital crew stands up for Kamal in VR MBBS. nyabagam vantheechu..ambuttu thaen. vera yethuvum solla varala naan.


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