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