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"The Terminal"

Directed by Steven Spielberg.
Written by Sacha Gervasi and Jeff Nathanson.
Starring Tom Hanks, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Stanley Tucci.
Release Year:  2004

Review Date:  7/6/04


Jennifer and I stopped in to the local multiplex on a rainy day to see "The Terminal", and even on the way in, Jennifer knew the score.

"Well, hopefully, this will be okay," she started in.  "Reviews haven't been too good!"

And, she was right, as I thought, as many critics thought..."The Terminal" is incredibly average, in almost new and creative ways given the pedigree of the people involved.  For all of his genius, Steven Spielberg has, with this and "Catch Me If You Can", really moved into an interesting stage of his career; one could argue that he hasn't made a great film in six years, as "Minority Report" and "A.I." haven't exactly set the world on fire.  Tom Hanks, playing a vaguely Russian/Czech/Polish guy named Victor from Krakozhia, a made-up place somewhere in Eastern Europe, isn't very interesting and gets a mild chuckle for his antics here and there throughout the film, but not much more.  Catherine Zeta-Jones, who seems to grow more beautiful every film even IF I didn't think she could look any better after seeing "Intolerable Cruelty", almost needs to give her Oscar back after some of the dogshit acting she puts on for her work in "The Terminal."  Really, some of it is that bad.

But, throughout the l o n g journey we take with Victor as he tries to find a way out of JFK Airport in New York City, the filmmakers do build up some genuine charm in the Victor character, his situation, and why he came to New York in the first place.  And, I give a lot of the film's credit to its sharp supporting cast, led by Chi McBride, Diego Luna (from one of my faves, "Y Tu Mama Tambien") and Kumar Pallana as the janitor Gupta, who has a couple of great lines and even better mugs to the camera.  As a group of the airport's service workers, these three make many of the tweener sequences work, with some great chemistry and some funny gags, like a hammy dinner sequence late in the film with our two leads.  Even the folks that work in all of those airport outlet stores are funny too...this is important to pad your flick with some good stuff to fill in the cracks, especially when your main story seems to have nowhere to go about 30 minutes into the film.

How is this film so average?  I still can't figure it out.  What I do know is that about fifteen minutes after leaving the theater, I had completely forgotten what some of the characters' names were in "The Terminal"...which, maybe speaks louder than any more babbling from me.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09