The Terminal (2004)

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Released 31-Jan-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Booking The Flight: The Script, The Story
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Waiting For The Flight: Building The Terminal
Featurette-Boarding: The People Of The Terminal
Featurette-Making Of-Take Off: Making The Terminal
Featurette-In Flight Service: The Music Of The Terminal
Featurette-Landing: Airport Stories
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 123:30 (Case: 128)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (62:30)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Steven Spielberg

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Tom Hanks
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Stanley Tucci
Chi McBride
Diego Luna
Barry Shabaka Henley
Kumar Pallana
Zoe Saldana
Eddie Jones
Jude Ciccolella
Corey Reynolds
Guillermo Díaz
Rini Bell
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music John Williams

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Steven Spielberg is one of those names that is just synonymous with American cinema. With so many classics under his belt, from the early days of Jaws and E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, to the bleak but brilliant Schindler’s List, to the movie that redefined war films, Saving Private Ryan, it’s hard not to associate him with blockbusters and genre-defining films alike – a Hollywood storyteller who can still tell a good story.

    Being a bit of a Spielberg fan myself, I was curious when I had heard mixed things about his last feature - The Terminal. Unlike some theatre-goers, I really enjoyed his brief escapade down the chase thriller genre, and proudly own copies of Minority Report and Catch Me If You Can. But I came to this with very mixed feelings as it seems to be a film about, really, nothing.

    The plot of The Terminal is very simple – Viktor (Tom Hanks) arrives at JFK Airport on the eve that his government is overthrown. With no government to go home to and no valid visa to travel into the US on, he is stranded at JFK where he winds up setting up his home. Along the way he meets mixed up air hostess Amelia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and a trio of airport underlings; Enrique (Diego Luna), Gupta (Kumar Pallana), and Thurman (Barry Shabaka Henley), while he exercises a battle of wills with the airport administrator Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci).

    Ultimately, though, The Terminal succeeds only at being slightly quirky, with the majority of its scenes falling a little flat. The big mystery of Viktor’s reason for being in the US is actually somewhat bland, its vague attempts at feel-good serve only to undermine the critical things that the film has to say about US immigration policy (not to mention similar hypocritical immigration policies demonstrated by much of the Western world), and the vague love story at the centre of the piece is about as dispassionate as they come.

    While the acting is good on Hanks' behalf, he already proved he could carry a one-man show in Cast Away, which is ultimately a much better film than this one – due entirely, I might add, to the script. I am sure I have floated this complaint before in my reviews, but I’m going to do so again for consistency. A movie begins with its script. It is near impossible to make a good movie without a good script. This movie is a prime example of that. The actors are all fine (although I was not terribly fond of the trio of airport underlings), the set design is impeccable, the cinematography exacting. But the script is just plain flat, exhibiting plenty of ‘cute and quirky = good’ scenes that fit well in The Truman Show to an extent, but just seemed contrived in this film.

    This is not a terrible film, and is passable entertainment on a hungover Sunday morning when your capacity to deal with anything approaching humanity is limited to pressing the play button on your DVD remote. In such a context, I managed not to pass out again, and even got a few chuckles here and there. But I noticed that I was easily distracted by the various SMSs I received during the course of the film discussing the previous night’s antics (I refuse to divulge any further information). When I tried to watch it again in a non-hungover state, I longed for that condition once more as I think I liked it better wasted.

    You can take your kids to this, but they probably won’t like it. It’s a little long for a date movie, and just not feel-good or funny enough. In short, it’s light and disposable, kind of like an airport book in that respect...

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Transfer Quality


    Transferred in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, this is close to its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio – so close, in fact, that you won’t notice the difference.

    The image is well defined, exhibiting a touch of softness that I believe to be part of the cinematographic technique used. The whole thing is, after all, meant to be set under the florescent lighting of JFK Airport (which is a total maze, as anybody who has been there can attest to).

    Colours are rich and vibrant, glowing off the screen (again thanks to that cinematographic process mentioned before), and shadow detail is impeccably good. Really, this transfer is hard to fault.

    I detected absolutely no film-to-video transfer artefacts, nor did I see any MPEG glitches.

    Dirt was extremely minimal, as you would expect from a film of this vintage.

    Subtitles are available in a string of languages. They appear as white with a grey border, can be read from a distance, and get the overall meaning of the dialogue across without being word for word.

    The dual-layer pause is at 62:30. It occurs during a scene change and is barely noticeable – I had to rewind to make sure that’s what it was.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    Audio is available in English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround (448Kb/s) and also English 5.1 DTS (768Kb/s). I’m not quite sure why they bothered with the latter track, but it’s there for your amusement.

    Being an entirely dialogue driven film, it was good to hear the dialogue clearly reproduced with no audio sync faults.

    Both tracks use the surrounds quite heavily to give you the sense of actually being at a busy airport like JFK. The DTS track has slightly more in the way of ambient noises, but not that you would really notice.

    The score by Spielberg favourite John Williams is cute and has some serious overtones when it wants. It’s nicely reproduced, but I wouldn’t be buying the soundtrack personally.

    There is extremely minimal subwoofer use in this, but the one scene where there is some sub action has a greater depth on the DTS track, as you would expect.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    All menus are presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. The main menus have a 2.0 Dolby Surround audio track, with brief snippets from the film. The other menus are static and silent.

Disc 2

    All special features on Disc 2 are presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with 2.0 Dolby Surround audio unless otherwise noted.

Featurette – “Booking The Flight: The Script, The Story” (8:06)

    See where they went wrong as the creators discuss what a great idea it was to set a film in an airport with a Russian character who learns English from travel catalogues. How can they be so blind?

Featurette – “Waiting For The Flight: Building The Terminal” (12:19)

    A look at the creation of the great set that set out to duplicate the inside of JFK. Set design was definitely one of the better features of this film.

Featurette – “Boarding: The People Of The Terminal” (31:48)

    A discussion about the various characters that populate the movie, including interviews with the majority of the cast. You can watch this as three separate featurettes:

    or all at once.

Featurette – “Take Off: Making The Terminal” (17:15)

    An okay behind-the-scenes featurette looking at the making of the movie.

Featurette – “In Flight Service: The Music Of The Terminal” (5:54)

    A look at scoring the film, including an interview with composer John Williams.

Featurette – “Take Off: Stories From The Terminal” (5:31)

    The cast and crew discuss various airport incidents they have had in their own lives.

Photo Gallery

    A series of inset stills from the film and from the making of the movie.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There is a single-disc version release in R1 which is identical to the first disc of the R4 release, and a 2-Disc Special Edition that is identical to this 2-Disc R4 release.

    There is also a 3-Disc Special Edition released in the US that is the same as our 2-Disc R4 release, except that it includes:

    I don’t think it’s worth forking out the extra just for the soundtrack personally, but you might feel differently.


    The Terminal is a passable movie, but far from a classic, and not really all that enjoyable. Disposable is a good adjective.

    The video transfer is virtually flawless.

    The 5.1 DTS track is good, but a little wasted on this movie.

    The extras are okay, but largely consist of Spielberg talking about himself and his interpretation of his movie. I guess, with a disposable airport movie you were always going to get disposable extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Friday, February 04, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationMarantz SR7000
SpeakersEnergy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
How much better the French original -
I will not being seeing this! - Pendergast (Why not take a look at my bio, you might think it stinks.)
Running Time Is Correct -
product placement? - GraemeG