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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: The Terminal (1-disc)



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#1 of 46 Michael Elliott

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Posted November 23 2004 - 03:18 PM

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The Terminal


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Studio: Dreamworks
Year: 2004
Rated: PG-13
Film Length: 127 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, Dolby 2.0 Surround
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
Retail Price: $29.95



NOTE---There are three versions of this out on the market. There’s this one disc version, which presents the film widescreen. There’s a second one-disc version that has the film open matte. Then we’ve got a third release, which features a second disc of extras plus the film’s soundtrack. The screener I received from Dreamworks is the one-disc WS version so I can’t comment on any of the extras.


In my opinion over the past decade or so it’s rather obvious that Steven Spielberg has tried to expand himself into becoming the next Stanley Kubrick. With this in mind I find it rather odd but not shocking than many of his previous few films have failed at the box office and haven’t been received positively by all critics. 2004’s The Terminal falls into this category due to its poor take at the box office and the fact that the film received many mixed reviews, which isn’t too typical for Spielberg. As with A.I. and Minority Report, this film here will be loved by many but hated by just as many.

Krakozia native Victor Navorski (Tom Hanks) arrives at JFK International Airport ready to head out to the Big Apple but security grabs and takes him to Dixon (Stanley Tucci), the customs official. While in the air, Victor’s country went to war meaning that his passport and visa are no good anymore. As Dixon explains, this means Victor can’t enter the U.S. and he can’t return to his own country. There’s a crack in the system, which means Victor is a man without a country and home. With nothing else to do until the war is over, Victor must stay in the International Arrival Lounge but he mustn’t step foot on American soil.

The Terminal is the type of film I like to say is about nothing at all yet it’s about everything in the world. Spielberg paces the film very slowly so that we get to know Hanks’ character as well as get to much our own decisions about what he stands for and what we stand for as people. Spielberg is obviously making a political statement but thankfully he never crosses the line by rubbing that statement in our face. The screenplay is smart enough to keep these messages under the covers. While these messages are easy to see, again the viewer must make up his own mind about them.

When I say a film is about nothing yet about everything, the best way to describe this is that The Terminal doesn’t have a plot but instead it simply tells a story. Sadly, in Hollywood these days every film much have some sort of plot, which is usually full of typical and predictable gimmicks that it’s understandable why something like this would fail to get too much attention from mainstream America. How many people really want to see a film about a foreigner getting stuck at the airport? Not too many but those who enjoy a story over gimmicks will surely find a lot to admire in this film.

There’s been a lot of debate on how good on actor Tom Hanks really is. Every time someone brings up a good reason why this guy might be overrated he turns right around and proves them wrong again. Many, many actors have tried doing accents and they are usually doing them to provoke a laugh, especially in a comedy like this. Quite often when we see a character who can’t speak English properly, we laugh. While Hanks gives a comedic performance, not once are we laughing at him but instead we’re laughing with him. Hanks is rather amazing because he adapts his language so well that it never once comes off as a gimmick and flows from his mouth quite naturally. It was a rather brave move to have Hanks play a character that can barely speak because it could cause the viewer to become quite annoyed. However, Hanks pulls it off and makes this character just as loveable as his Forrest Gump.

The Terminal also tests highly when it comes to the ending. With this type of film we expect some sort of climatic chase or dramatic scene but instead, the story just plays itself out. Nothing too big is done and no fake scares are thrown at us. In the end, the film simply ends with the character doing what he set out to do. The only weak spot to the film is a brief love interest played by Catharine Zeta-Jones. Thankfully the romance never becomes too sappy but the involvement with this one characters takes away from the bigger picture. However, I was pleasantly surprised by Zita-Jones’ performance, which proves she’s more than just a body.

I don’t think there’s any question to the greatness that is Spielberg and while I’ve attacked some of his reasons in the past, there’s no way I can’t respect what he’s been doing the past couple of years. If he’s trying to become the next Stanley Kubrick then I think he’s on the right track by tackling pictures that aren’t safe for all critics and fans. There’s no reason why some don’t enjoy this pictures but if you look closely you can see Spielberg raising his game to another level and it makes me very excited to see what is going to come next.


VIDEO---The film is shown widescreen (1.85:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 TVs. This is a rather hard transfer to judge since I didn’t see the film in the theaters but it appears from my judgment that the transfer is stellar. Much like Catch Me if You Can, this film has a different look at various parts of the terminal. Some of the scenes are shot overly bright while others have a darker, more toned down look to them. The film was apparently shot this way so there’s no reason to complain here. No matter how the scene was shot, I was very happy with the overall transfer. Skins tones look very accurate and didn’t feature any redness to them while the black levels were also very solid and well defined. The darker scenes also look accurate with wonderful shadow detail, which captures the mood quite nicely. The dimensionality was also very well done and all the panning shots remain the vibrant detail even in stuff happening at the back of the scene. I didn’t notice any compression artifacts, dust or scratches on the print. I also didn’t detect any edge enhancement, which is nice (not) to see. In the end this is another stellar transfer from Dreamworks.

AUDIO---We get Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1 and a 2.0 Surround tracks. There’s also an optional French 5.1 track. I started to feel that it’s rather pointless in comparing DD to DTS tracks but here we go. The film is mostly dialogue driven and this here sounds wonderful no matter which track you’re listening to. The dialogue is always upfront and sounds wonderfully crisp without any sort of distortion or other problems. The Surrounds are mainly used for various sound effects like one scene where a plane lands, a couple scenes where people are slipping on a wet floor and whenever there’s an announcement over the intercom. Again, there really isn’t too much of a difference in the tracks in this department unless you’re really listening closely. If you pay hard enough attention then you’ll find the DTS a bit fuller in some clarity. The jazz scene at the end of the film sounds better in DTS and even the music score as a more crystal punch but outside of this, there isn’t much else. The rears are only used a few times throughout but the sound effects are nicely mixed in with the feature.

Again, if you’ve got a system that handles DTS then you’ll certainly want to select this track. If you don’t own a DTS system, I really don’t think this release offers enough reason for you to upgrade. Either track does the film justice, which is the most important thing.

EXTRAS---This 1-disc version contains no extras at all.

OVERALL---Steven Spielberg once again delivers a nice little picture that tells a story instead of going for fake gimmicks and an overblown ending. Tom Hanks also proves why he one of the best actors out there and dare I say it, one of the best of all time.

The actual DVD is up to the usual high standards of Dreamworks. The picture quality and both audio tracks do the film justice but it’s a shame people are going to have to pay more to get the second disc worth of extras. The previous Spielberg films from Dreamwork all featured a second disc at the same retail price of this one so it’s rather sad fans will have to pay more and perhaps get a soundtrack that they don’t want.


Release Date: November 23rd, 2004

#2 of 46 Ryan Wong

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Posted November 23 2004 - 04:54 PM

I am getting the Collector Edition with the soundtrack since I don't have the soundtrack yet. The score is lovely.
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#3 of 46 Chris Rein

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Posted November 23 2004 - 05:01 PM

I bought this site unseen as my wife and I really wanted to see this movie. I picked up the 3 disc version today and I am extremely glad that I did.

The transfer was fanstastic. It just looked beautiful up on on screen and I didn't notice any artifacts or edge enhancement. My DVD player via DVI is notorious for making edge enhancement VERY apparent, and I'm glad I didn't see any this time around. I chose the DTS soundtrack, and it was very open and sounded great during musical (score) scenes. Only one little piece of low-end, and I wasn't expecting much from this type of movie.

I really enjoyed the story and direction, and I think people are so caught up with Spielberg's past successes, that when he does something different, people freak out. The man is a genius. I loved this movie and Minority Report. The only one as of late that really did nothing for me was A.I.

So, with that said, I highly recommend this flick. Posted Image

#4 of 46 Jonathan

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Posted November 23 2004 - 06:03 PM

I also bought the 3 disc version and loved the movie. But here is what bugs me about the 3 disc set. Is it that hard to include a trailer on a DVD set that list for 40 bucks? Granted I didn't pay 40 for it, but a 3 disc special edition should have a trailer since it is pretty obvious that a "collector" is more likely to buy this than "joe sixpack". More and more DVDs don't have trailers on them anymore. I'll take a trailer for the movie rather than some dumb EPK featurette any day. End of rant.
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#5 of 46 MarcusUdeh

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Posted November 23 2004 - 06:10 PM

Michael your commentary on Spielberg attempting to be the next Stanley Kubrick feels incorrect. Spielberg is an artist. His art happens to appeal to a larger demographic than Kubrick. "The Terminal", does not seem so out of the box for Steven to direct. With all my sensitivity: Spielberg does not have to attempt to be anything other than Steven Spielberg. I am not sure is he the most overrated of the underrated or the other way around.
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#6 of 46 Robert Crawford

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Posted November 23 2004 - 08:46 PM

In my opinion over the past decade or so it’s rather obvious that Steven Spielberg has tried to expand himself into becoming the next Stanley Kubrick.

I'm a big Kubrick fan, but as good as Kubrick was, Spielberg's accomplishments as a film director are beyond whatever Kubrick had achieved in his career. Furthermore, this film isn't a Kubrick type film so I don't understand your comparison in this instance.






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#7 of 46 Michael Elliott

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Posted November 23 2004 - 09:18 PM

Quote:
His art happens to appeal to a larger demographic than Kubrick.


Quote:
Furthermore, this film isn't a Kubrick type film


To me, until recently (let's say 93) Spielberg delivered great art but it was always safe. Critics always loved it and the crowds always loved it. Recently his art is just as great but now the subjects aren't as mainstream and to me, that's the reason these films aren't doing too well at the box office and are being slammed by many. Today's Spielberg is just as impressive as the stuff he was doing early in his career but you might not know that reading some of the reviews.

The way Spielberg talks of Kubrick there really isn't any doubt in my mind that he wants to do something better. This was apparent in the early 90's when he gave an interview saying he wanted to go a step further with his art and wanted to do something more challenging like Kubrick. He could have played it safe (critic/fan wise) but instead, to me he grew up and is going in a different direction.

#8 of 46 Robert Crawford

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Posted November 23 2004 - 09:36 PM

To me, until recently (let's say 93) Spielberg delivered great art but it was always safe.

I guess that's where you and I differ because I don't agree with that assessment about being safe. Several of those films were cutting edge films that broke new ground technically and genre-wise that help redefine the movie industry and by doing so they were far from being safe.







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#9 of 46 John_F

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Posted November 24 2004 - 12:38 AM

I was watching this on my computer, and noticed that the movie was slightly window-boxed (a small black border all around the picture). Any ideas why they did this on this particular film?

Thanks,
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#10 of 46 MikeEckman

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Posted November 24 2004 - 02:04 AM

I saw this in the theater and have been eagerly awaiting the DVD since. I have the 3 disc on order from DVDPlanet, so hopefully it will arrive soon as I can't wait to see it again!
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#11 of 46 Mike Frezon

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Posted November 24 2004 - 02:38 AM

I picked up the one-disc WS version last night. I just didn't like the film enough to spring the extra $12 to get the 3-disc.

I agree that I think Hanks delivers in this flick...which rests squarely on his performance.

I would have liked to had the option to purchase a two-disc package w/o the soundtrack for a lesser price than the 3-disc package. If I want to buy a motion picture soundtrack, I will do so separately (and have on many occasions)...but I don't want to have to pay extra for it in order to get the bonus features that I would have really liked to see.

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#12 of 46 Ernest Rister

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Posted November 24 2004 - 02:47 AM

I don't think The Sugarland Express, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Color Purple -- and most prominently, Empire of the Sun - were "safe" films. More like mine fields navigated with such a deft and assured hand, Spielberg made them feel "safe".

"I don’t think there’s any question to the greatness that is Spielberg and while I’ve attacked some of his reasons in the past, there’s no way I can’t respect what he’s been doing the past couple of years. If he’s trying to become the next Stanley Kubrick then I think he’s on the right track by tackling pictures that aren’t safe for all critics and fans."

Stanley Kubrick, in his films from Lolita onward, seized the attention of the world by tackling subjects of great controversey. Only The Shining and perhaps Barry Lyndon seem to stand out as anomalies in this regard, as opposed to films that raised eyebrows by filming a book about underage attraction, breaking the Hollywood blacklist, turning the arms race into a black comedy, creating a fantasia on human evolution with a notoriously interpretive ending, exploring the nature of violence, commenting on VietNam and how the military conditions human beings and turns them from indiviudals into killing units, commenting on the attraction of infidelity in marriage and using Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman to make his point -- and post-mortem, exploring the true nature of human love in A.I. and using Steven Spielberg to do it.

Spielberg is not the kind of person who goes forth to tweak the nose of the world. Rather, he is a profound humanist, and his work is filled with compassion for the human condition. I wonder if anyone else has ever noticed how Spielberg almost always goes out of his way to humanize the antagonists of his films. The stereotype has been that Spielberg makes movies with cut-and-dry good guys and bad guys, perhaps because of the enormous success of E.T. and the Indiana Jones films. But look at his work -- in Sugarland, there are no "evil" people, just people trapped by the inevitability of their choices. In Jaws, the town Mayor is seen as the great obstacle, but Spielberg makes sure to have a final scene with Mayor Vaughn showing him as a man collapsing under his responsibilities to the town and his family ("Martin...my son -- was on that beach too..."). The Government is depicted as an obstacle to the common man in Close Encounters, and yet the same government is shown to be benign, working in the service of communication, and even enabling Roy Neary to complete his quest. On and on it goes. The violent and cruel "Mr." in The Color Purple has a moment of redemption and in the last shot of the film, it is implied that he rejoins the family unit. Belloq in Raiders has respect for Indiana, love for Marion, and disgust for the Nazis. Jim admires the Japanese in Empire of the Sun -- we even see that Oskar Schindler and Amon Goeth come to share a common trait -- self-loathing. Oskar rises above it to redemption, Amon takes out his aggression on everyone around him and is hung for war crimes.

In Catch Me If You Can and The Terminal, this trait continues. Tom Hanks is and Stanley Tucci are merely doing their jobs, even if they have personal feelings (good or ill) towards the protagonist.

One trait that Kubrick and Spielberg do share -- variety. Kubrick tried on a different genre each time out. Aside from the sequels to Raiders and Jurassic Park, Spielberg likewise tackles different material each time at bat, and has been doing so since his first films in the 70's. Fans of Spielberg are sometimes put out when critics suggest Spielberg has only been showing variety recently. He's been tackling new material ever since Sugarland, Jaws, Close Encounters, 1941, Raiders, E.T., Color Purple, Empire of the Sun, and on and on and on.

#13 of 46 Colin Jacobson

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Posted November 24 2004 - 02:53 AM

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Today's Spielberg is just as impressive as the stuff he was doing early in his career but you might not know that reading some of the reviews.


I wouldn't agree with that. Today's Spielberg isn't half as good as the guy who made four stunning, virtually perfect flicks between 1975 and 1982.
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#14 of 46 Michael Elliott

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Posted November 24 2004 - 03:06 AM

Spielberg (or Lucas or Scorsese) can't "repeat" what they did in the 70s and I really don't expect them to. Even if they could. For me personally, I didn't care for A.I. and I feel SL is a bit overrated (but still great) but yes, I think his 93-04 lineup has been very impressive. PRIVATE RYAN, CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, LOST WORLD and MINORITY REPORT.

As for my comments with Kubrick, to me Kubrick was the one Hollywood director who said F.U. to the "rules" and didn't always play it safe. I'm not talking about creating some new or different, but actually doing a film that isn't meant to be liked by the masses. When A.I. was released, it was the first time in a long time that critics/fans came down hard on Spielberg. Of course, Kubrick fans were use to the abuse that the director would get. People didn't "get" the films but years later they are considered classics. Several of the recent Spielberg movies have fallen victim to this but I believe in a few years, people will look back at these films very highly. Especially something like MINORITY REPORT and I think THE TERMINAL could have strong legs.

I don't mind Spielberg's films being "happy" and I certainly wouldn't attack them for being sappy. My first membery in life is crying my eyes out in a packed theater during E.T. I was only two years old at the time but that is my first memory in life. I think JUR. PARK was also "too safe". It was a kids film when it shouldn't have been. That's why I enjoyed the sequel a lot more because Spielberg went straight for the throat. The first film had kids loving the dinos but the second had them running out of theaters in tears.

I've always considered Spielberg a great director but within the past five years or so I'd raise him up to another level. From what I remember hearing him say, Kubrick was a major influence on him and I remember him saying he wanted to do something "dangerous". THE TERMINAL could have been a major hit had Spielberg backed down and delivered a safer film and I respect him for not doing so.

Ernest, the only Spielberg film I haven't seen is EMPIRE but your write up has me very interested.

#15 of 46 Ernest Rister

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Posted November 24 2004 - 03:07 AM

Yet another disagreement with Colin Jacobson. Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, A.I., Minority Report, Catch Me if You Can -- all of these are wonderful films, and Amistad is a fine film as well, if too restrained for its own good. I think the Terminal is a mifire, but even Michael Jordan missed the rim every now and again. Spielber rimmed out with 1941 during the same 1975-1982 period, but like Jordan, Spielberg lives to play. Looking forward to his reunion with Cruise and War of the Worlds.

#16 of 46 Joe Cortez

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Posted November 24 2004 - 03:57 AM

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Spielber rimmed out with 1941 during the same 1975-1982 period, but like Jordan, Spielberg lives to play.

It's amazing how many people like to forget the (generally percieved creative and financial) failure of "1941" (which I love, by the way) when they criticize Spielberg for the filmmaker he is today as opposed to the one who cranked out such films as "Jaws," "Close Encounters," and "Raiders." Anyway, thanks for the review Michael.

#17 of 46 Ernest Rister

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Posted November 24 2004 - 05:17 AM

I think 1941 works far better today than it did in 1979. For one thing, the mass hysteria and paranoia about being bombed is actually understandable these days -- and the extended cut fleshes this out. There is a scene in a department store early on where Spielberg performs an amazing tracking shot as an air raid siren begins to wail. The store becomes deathly quiet, everyone standing stock still. Spielberg's camera finally comed to rest on a young woman who steps into the frame, slowly putting the noise together in her head with what has just happened in Hawaii. She suddenly realizes what the siren means and she begins to scream (comically, of course). The scene practically feels ripped from the headlines of Fall 2001 -- while such context can't repair the excess of 1941 and the myriad pacing and editing issues, it does give the film an immediacy it just didn't have in the late 70's.

I think there are brilliant individual scenes in 1941 - I think the USO Dance/Fight ranks among the best of Spielberg's entire body of work. The film also has several great performances, and so while Spielberg did "rim out", he was also doing so in fantastic style.

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#18 of 46 Bradley-E

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Posted November 24 2004 - 05:30 AM

Since SCHINDLER'S LIST, Steven Spielberg has done his best work. Save JAWS and the underated EMPIRE OF THE SUN. A.I. is also very underated and perhaps will be appreciated one day. I'm disappointed that THE TERMINAL DVD was presented this way. It should have been a flat-out 2-Disc SE.

#19 of 46 Colin Jacobson

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Posted November 24 2004 - 05:31 AM

Quote:
It's amazing how many people like to forget the (generally percieved creative and financial) failure of "1941" (which I love, by the way) when they criticize Spielberg for the filmmaker he is today as opposed to the one who cranked out such films as "Jaws," "Close Encounters," and "Raiders."


I never forget it. You'll notice I mentioned four virtually perfect films from 1975-1982. Hint: 1941 isn't one of them.
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#20 of 46 Colin Jacobson

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Posted November 24 2004 - 05:37 AM

Quote:
Yet another disagreement with Colin Jacobson.

Don't you get sick of being wrong all the time? Posted Image

Quote:
Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, A.I., Minority Report, Catch Me if You Can -- all of these are wonderful films, and Amistad is a fine film as well, if too restrained for its own good.


We definitely will disagree on the quality of these films. Ryan is the best of the bunch, but its best moments are partially negated by its overly sappy ones. Good flick? Yup, but nothing compared to his best work.

AI, Minority, Catch: all watchable, all with good moments, all very inconsistent and not tremendously memorable.

List: arguably the most overrated movie of all-time.

Amistad "too restrained"? No, it was too over the top. Simplistic, contrived, self-righteous and calculated - it's possibly Spielberg's WORST film.

I said it before, I'll say it again: Spielberg circa 1990-2004 isn't half the filmmaker he was in his youth.
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