Copyright, DreamWorks Pictures
Prayer Focus

THE TERMINAL

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief language and drug references

Reviewed by: Brett Willis
STAFF WRITER

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults and Teens
Genre:
Drama
Length:
2 hr. 8 min.
Year of Release:
2004
USA Release:
______
Featuring: Tom Hanks, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chi McBride, Stanley Tucci, Diego Luna
Director: Steven Spielberg
Distributor: DreamWorks Pictures
Copyright, DreamWorks Pictures
Copyright, DreamWorks Pictures
Copyright, DreamWorks Pictures

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks) is a visitor to New York from Eastern Europe, whose homeland erupts in a fiery coup while he is in the air en route to America. Stranded at Kennedy Airport with a passport from nowhere, he is unauthorized to actually enter the United States and must improvise his days and nights in the terminal’s international transit lounge until the war at home is over.

As the weeks and months stretch on, Viktor finds the compressed universe of the terminal to be a richly complex world of absurdity, generosity, ambition, amusement, status, serendipity and even romance with a beautiful flight attendant named Amelia (Catherine Zeta-Jones). But Viktor has long worn out his welcome with airport official Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci), who considers him a bureaucratic glitch, a problem he cannot control but wants desperately to erase.

During his accidental exile, Viktor encounters and befriends an array of airport employees, some of whom aren’t very far removed from their own assimilation to America.”

Steven Spielberg has a unique touch, regardless what kind of film he makes. And when he’s directing Tom Hanks, good things tend to happen. “The Terminal” is primarily a character study with a number of interesting people. More geared toward adults and mature teens, but relatively clean in content.

Viktor Navorski (Hanks) is a tourist from Krakozhia, visiting New York City. But while he was in the air, his country became embroiled in a civil war; and his passport isn’t valid until the conflict is resolved and the United States recognizes the new government. He can’t go home, and he can’t leave the airport. He’s trapped in the International Flight holding area at JFK. He speaks little English, and suffers setbacks and indignities.

The head of security, Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci) wants to get rid of Viktor, but his hands are tied. Some airport employees are at first rude to or suspicious of Viktor, but eventually he wins many friends. Main characters include security assistant Ray Thurman (Barry Shebaka Henly) custodian Gupta (Kamar Pallana), baggage handler Joe Mulroy (Chi McBride), general gofer Enrique Cruz (Diego Luna), and customs official Dolores Torres (Zöe Saldana) whom Cruz has a crush on. And of course Viktor’s eventual love interest, flight attendant Amelia Warren (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Each character is slowly developed, and we come to care about them as we learn their backstories.

Dixon is the primary villain. He’s good at spotting and arresting drug smugglers and other unsavory characters, and in his dealings with Viktor he’s for the most part just doing his job. However, although he’ll never cheat the rules in Viktor’s favor, he IS willing to try to coax Viktor into breaking the rules, so Dixon can get rid of him and make him someone else’s problem. Eventually though, we see that he, like everyone else, has both a good and a bad side. Just takes a little digging sometimes.

Amelia is a tragic character, involved with a married man as one of a series of self-destructive relationships. She’s aware of her own character flaws, but unable to fix them. She warms up to Viktor’s innocence, but even his influence can only do so much. (Of course, what she really needs is Jesus. Other than seeing Viktor cross himself before eating, there’s no reference to faith in the film, either positive or negative.)

The violence is sparse. There’s some TV footage of the revolution in Viktor’s homeland, but nothing explicit. Some confrontations, as airport security forces arrest and detain people. At one point, Dixon slams Viktor into a copy machine. No one is killed or seriously injured in the film.

There are about 25 instances of cursing, profanity and vulgarity, including three occurrences of s*. In addition to that, while Viktor is playing matchmaker between Cruz and Torres, he’s describing Torres’ problem with her previous boyfriend as “he cheat,” and his thick accent makes it sound like “eat s*.” This is repeated 8 or 10 times, for comic effect.

Amelia talks openly about being involved in an affair with “great sex.” Viktor and some airport employees play cards late at night, gambling for an abandoned pair of panties that supposedly belonged to Cher (Viktor thinks the other guys are saying that they’re all supposed to “share” them). The stop-and-start romance between Viktor and Amelia finally develops to the kissing stage; and next thing we see, Viktor is waking up in his makeshift bed made from two racks of airport chairs pushed together. The “bed” is wide enough for two people, and Viktor is over to one side, but the other side is empty. I’d say that scene was constructed as deliberately ambiguous.

There’s some on-screen drinking. A drug smuggler is caught red-handed, and we later hear that an airport employee is involved in selling drugs, but there’s no on-screen drug use.

Several sequences in the story are quite sad, while others appear to be sad but turn out okay. We finally learn the reason Viktor came to the U.S. in the first place, and it’s a very touching one.

The acting is superb. The camera work, including the unusual technique of deliberately overexposing some shots due to backlight from windows, is very good. And the full-size mockup airport terminal, which I understand was constructed somewhere in the desert, is flawless.

For people able to handle the content issues, this is a thoughtful and engaging film. One of the few releases this summer that’s not a sequel or a remake. It might be good as a married couples’ date movie.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: Moderate / Sex and Nudity: Mild

Viewer Comments
Positive—…one of the best movies I’ve seen in a while. The PG-13 movie rating comes not because of vulgarity or violence, but because of the high level of material the film covers. There are a few curses here or there, as well as sexual innuendo, but overall the film was devoid of the depravity that Hollywood has become known for. If you go, leave the kids at home because they won’t understand it. However, for those adults who are sick of the oft-hyped Hollywood garbage check out this hidden jewel of a movie.
My Ratings: [Average/5]
—Joshua, age 19
Positive—“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” This is the scripture that comes to mind after seeing The Terminal. Viktor was an example of how to “wait” while suffering an injustice that was not his in the making. I laughed and cried when I thought of what he went through to keep a promise to his father. PLEASE SEE THIS FILM—you will not be disappointed!
My Ratings: [Good/4½]
—Reba, age 30+
Positive—Some content may be objectionable due to the mention of an extramarital affair in the story although the script clearly shows that this is not a not a good situation for the character involved. There are some references to sex, but nothing graphic.

Spiritually, the story has a strong message about character, caring about others, keeping one’s word, making sacrifices for others and family relationships.

Tom Hanks has outdone himself with a truly amazing performance. Screenwriters, Sacha Gervasi and Jeff Nathanson provide a canvas where characters develop into people we’re unlikely to forget. “The Terminal” is an amazing film—Heartwarming. Funny. Real. See it.
My Ratings: [Average/3]
—Diana Richomme
Positive—I believe this movie was very good morally considering the normal Hollywood movie themes these days. Tom Hank’s character was an excellent example of how we as Christians should be… obedient! And he was obedient to the laws even when he was prompted to disobey those laws by someone in authority. He never stole anything even when he was hungry. He was kind to others even when being treated badly.

There is reference to an extra marital affair which I would have preferred not be there, but it is Hollywood. Overall I believe this was a very nice movie and the message of the need for kindness towards other fellow human beings was refreshing.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
—Beth, age 37
Positive—I was thoroughly impressed with “The Terminal,” particularly with the Christ-like qualities exemplified by the hero, Victor. He is humble and is willing to make sacrifices to bail his friends out of trouble. Victor is shown praying. Perhaps best of all, he is described by Zeta-Jones’ character as “a man who keeps his hands in his pockets”—this is touted as an admirable characteristic! The Terminal has two main themes—reaching out to those who are not accepted, and patience as a virtue. The film contained a few scattered drawbacks including foul language (I counted only one word used in its malicious sense; there was also a comical scene where pronunciation with a heavy accent caused a misunderstanding) and a seemingly shallow relationship between coworkers at the airport, but for a secular film, I felt that it aligned with conservative Christian values pretty well. There was absolutely no violence shown. I highly recommend this movie.
My Ratings: [Good/4]
—Jake B
Positive—Great story based on a compelling concept! Although the movie was lengthy, there was enough cinematic movement that you won’t get bored. Some mild language (I’d feel comfortable with a mature 13-year old watching).
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
—G. Faceman, age 30
Positive—As always, Tom Hanks never ceases to amaze. I thought the film was executed flawlessly and really brought out true emotion in people. There was virtually nothing inappropriate in the entire film, save a few curse words, but those can be glossed over. What I found incredible was that there was no sex scene! That’s quite a concept for movies these days. I thoroughly enjoyed the film and would recommend it to anyone. This is the kind of film that trancends age. If you like Tom Hanks, you’ll love this movie. There were funny parts, serious parts, and sad parts. A little something for everyone. I was very impressed with the quality and left the theatre feeling satisfied that I hadn’t been bombarded with excessive violence, nudity, and language. Two thumbs up!
My Ratings: [Good/4]
—Brian, age 19
Positive—…I was pleased with the outcome. If they omitted some cussing and the sexual references, it would’ve made for a G or PG. It’s sweet, cute, and it’s lighthearted. However, it does need to make emphasis on faith in relationships and in life other than Viktor crossing himself before mealtime. It will make a great chick-flick for a girl’s night out or a great date movie.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
—Shannon H., age 22
Positive—Enjoyed this movie a lot! Hanks character is identifiable as one who is at the mercy of others, but whose influence is positive on those around him. Something we as Christians should strive for more and more. The flaws in the rest of the cast are indicative of society as a whole and can be dealt with in a positive way. The “villain” is not really bad but caught in between the system and doing what he knows is right. He does it finally! This is the tension in the film. I recommend it.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4½]
—Jeff Ingram, age 47
Negative—The movie starts off good and seems like its going to be a great romantic comedy; however, it drags on and the romance thing fizzles out and gets confusing. It is a little funny. I found it to be too long, and it doesn’t end good. Catherine Zeta Jones character is a sleazy/easy flight attendant and she uses many offensive words. I wouldn’t waste the money at the theatre, I’d wait till it comes out on on rental.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/2½]
—Anonymous, age 26
Positive—The Terminal was an incredible movie watching experience. I was thoroughly impressed. I went expecting a good movie, considering the team of Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg… I was not expecting how wonderful it really was though. The film really makes us stop and think about how we treat our fellow man. Victor is a humble and strong character, with high moral values. Some may feel that the extra-marital affair that Amelia is involved in may be objectionable, but I think the focus of the movie was how Victor reacted to her. He kept reaching out to her, offering his love and acceptance… as Christ does to us.

How often are we in “adulterous” relationships (giving our attention to anything above God), yet He continues to call to us, accept us, be there for us? The effect Victor has on the people around him is profound, making them want to be better people. We as christians should be so influencing of our environment. One other great thing, he never forgot his purpose for being there, nor did he forget where he was from. So should we be. We are citizens of heaven, so should we behave. This movie will touch you deeply, and teach you a lot. I recommend it to everyone.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
—Russell, age 28
Positive—I have read some complaints about how boring this movie is, and how its ending was ambiguous. This is not surprising since many look at this movie in the same way they see life. The movie’s payoff was not at the end, it was throughout the whole film. The moral of the story was not packaged, wrapped and handed to the audience. Instead, the viewer grows with the characters. As Victor (Tom Hanks) grew and made the best of his situation by learning English, he quickly overcame his ignorance about his ordeal and the new world he found himself in, and ultimately he even did a very Christian thing: He was selflessly going to sacrifice his ultimate happiness for those he cared about (The people he befriended. To those who were bored: Go back and see this film again and don’t wait till the end to look for its meaning. Tis time, Enjoy the journey. A Very Good Film.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4½]
—Michael Gray, age 19
Positive—This was a wonderful movie! There were a few objectional issues one regarding drug smuggling and another about a man cheating on his wife but these are very brief and mentioned are not right. There was only one cuss word that I heard during a scene with Zeta-Jones and Hanks it being the “C” word. But all in all it was a very good movie and would recommend it for ages teen and above.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4½]
—Erin, age 19
Positive—This movie is excellent! I was laughing all the way through! Minimal language and sexual references. Tom Hanks did a fantastic job, as usual, and I found myself drawn into the character of Viktor Navorski. It was easy to sympathize with him and laugh with him.

Several important themes are brought up—patience (seen in the character of Viktor Navorski), and the trap of lust (seen in Amelia Warren’s character. The way she ended up going back to her lover was very telling and true-to-life, illustrating simply how easily sexual sin can ensnare). One theme I found very interesting was that on the intricate balance between responsibility or duty and mercy on the job (seen in the character of Dixon).

The airport set was expertly done, and was very realistic. Tom Hanks performing with that accent was great, and the other characters added to the colorfulness of The Terminal. Overall, The Terminal was a great movie, and I really enjoyed it. It makes you realize how much beauty, joy, and wonderful experience you can gain by getting to know people and being kind to them, instead of just simply acknowledging them in passing.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4½]
—Carey, age 18
Positive—Enjoyable while you’re watching; not something I’d want to buy and take home. Tom Hanks is only average in the part, and Spielberg just isn’t up to par… sorry Steven, I usually like your movies. Just not this time.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/3]
—Dana

Comments from young people
Positive—I loved it!! It has to be one of the best movies I have EVER seen (and I have seen a lot). You have to see this movie…
My Ratings: [Excellent!/5]
—Rachel, age 12
Negative—This film was, admittedly, fairly clean. However, the relationship between Victor and Amelia was, I think, pushing it. That was in no means an example of a good Christian relationship—but then again, what can you expect with Hollywood? What really disappointed me was the story line. The first half an hour seemed like the beginning of a good film, and then things began going down. Dixon’s almost obsessive out-to-get-Victor attitude was a little overboard, unrealistic. The wedding between Cruz and the woman who checks baggage was very fishy as well. They’ve barely said a few words together face-to-face, and all of a sudden they’re ready to be married? And the part where the janitor runs out to the airplane was strange too. I don’t ask that a movie be perfect—I just want it to make sense. There were so many little discrepancies that they drew the attention away from the main plot. I left the theater feeling confused, overwhelmed, and unsatisfied.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/1½]
—Caitlin, age 14
Positive—Wow. All I can say is that I was pleasantly surprised with this movie. I had seen the first part of Hank’s last film, the Ladykillers, and couldn’t stand the incessant cussing and objectionable material and actually ended up walking out of the theater. I’m a big fan of Tom Hanks so I was hoping that this movie would be good, and it wasn’t good… it was great. It has an awesome storyline and incredible acting. It was funny, heartwarming, and it certainly re-enforced many moral truths. Tom Hanks was phenomenal.

I’m 17, and noticed that the theater was filled with seniors and the older crowd. I think older people will love this film, but if you’re young, don’t miss out! This is the perfect date movie AND it has hardly anything objectionable in it at all! The good far outweighs the little bad in this film and the many moral lessons you can derive from this film are priceless. What a fantastic movie… I’ll definitely be purchasing the DVD.
My Ratings: [Good/5]
—Robby Berthume, age 17
Positive—: For those who have been like me this Summer, finding it hard to find ANY film free of sex, cursing, and violence, I think you’ll find this movie to be a breath of fresh air. Yes, there are some mature issues brought up throughout the film, such as Amelia’s involvement with a married man. However, I was very surprised when Hollywood DIDN’T endorse nor glorify her situation. In fact, they portrayed it as something that brought Amelia stress, guilt, and an empty life. Compared to the other films I’ve seen this Summer, the cursing, violence, etc. are very low. The film is top notch, as to be expected with the cast and director, and I very pleased to endorse this movie!
My Ratings: [Good/4½]
—Craig, age 18
Positive—There was some objectional content, but nothing too bad. It is very funny and entertaining. Be warned that it is a VERY LONG movie, almost two and a half hours, but it is very enjoyable. Go see it!
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4½]
—Mariette, age 14
Positive—I liked this movie because it had a great storyline, and it was pretty funny. I think Tom Hanks did a good job with the acting and Steven Spielberg did a fantastic job with the directing. This is a good movie for the family but mainly for mature audiences.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
—Jake Polly, age 16
Negative—I did not like this movie at all. It starts of great, but then Catherine Zeta Jones (the flight attendant) doesn’t even go for Tom Hanks in the end. It was also too long. I would not waste my money on this movie again.
My Ratings: [Average/1½]
—Kirstin, age 13
Positive—I can’t remember one bad thing about the terminal. No sexuality or nudity either expressed nor implied, little language, and a very nice message of loyalty and responsibility. The main character didn’t have to do the things he did for other people, but he chose to, and it really brightened other peoples lives. I can’t think of any reason not to see this movie, or an audience it’s unsuited for. It would probably bore little kids, but other than that, I would definitely say, “go see it!”
My Ratings: [Good/4½]
—Anna Cassat, age 16
Movie Critics
…Stephen Spielberg has walked a fine line here. He is to be highly commended…
— Dr. Ted Baehr, Movie Guide
…Finally, a message of hope from the summer stew of sequels and special effects!…
—Annabelle Robertson, Crosswalk
…Ultimately, two hours in The Terminal closely resembles two hours in a real airport terminal…
— Christopher Null, FilmCritic.Com