The Terminal Blu-ray Review

Viktor Navorski is a man of patience and pleasantries. For Tom Hanks, Navorski is his specialty character. Cast Away and Forrest Gump featured leads who deal with life. They deal with unexpected circumstances. They deal with happiness, joy. Sadness too. Audiences root for them.

Navorski’s secret, as he is inexplicably trapped in JFK airport due to faltering immigration status, sits inside of a Planter’s Peanut can. It’s Planters because The Terminal is obsessive about brands. Conversations discuss company lines and scenes set-up on corporate acknowledgment. But regardless, Terminal is a symposium of personalities rather than marketing, from a brash janitor to a sympathetic food cart operator. Soaking in romance with a perky Catherine Zeta-Jones further elevates this Spielberg-ian stature.

In this post 9-11 fiction, writer Andrew Niccol devises this splendidly fantastic story of believable international friction and uppity laws which leave this (former) Krakozhian citizen stranded. Navorski’s story is dabbed with a reality – an Indian man in 1988 produced a biography of his terminal-based residence with doubly absurd situations. Spielberg’s implausible splash of fairy tale coating only elevates charms in such a story.

Janusz Kaminski returns as Spielberg’s cinematographer, reproducing a signature lensed look of popping highlights and softened mood. Navorski’s ambitious improvisation to eat, sleep, and wash within the social network of Terminal one are greased with dissolved lights. Camera work is set on unreal in depicting an audience friendly cinematic reality. Kaminski’s style is signature and versatile, placed here as it was in sci-fi futures for Minority Report or another illegal alien immigration epic, 2005’s War of the Worlds.

So long is Navorski ensnared by broken American legalities, people enter relationships and engage in a flash marriage. He wins the hearts of store staff members and continues to draw ire from a chilly higher up (Stanley Tucci) who finds the kindly Krakozhian a bother. Like any proper fairy tale, American or otherwise, Terminal distributes an identifiable hero and his master villain doomed to fail, all while drafting situations to bottle them together forcibly.

Despite sadness over Navorski’s ruptured homestead – captured by and delivered on indifferent 24 hour news feeds – Terminal avoids any, well, ‘terminal’ grumpiness. Despite the absurdity in Navorski’s minimal imprisonment, Terminal is under a veil of perpetual glee. Characters, with sadness in their stories, maintain a headstrong composure. In Navorski’s case, he appears to not only adjust, but accidentally enjoy himself. The allure of American brands displayed across the surface must make any foreigner appear as royalty.

Movie ★★★★★ 

Hanks up close @ 4:26

Paramount premieres this 2004 mini-classic to Blu-ray with competency, a difficult piece of work for any encode. Kaminski’s grain-submerged visual space begs the encode to battle and it does. AVC work is exceptional. Compression never wanders, allowing compositions to breathe without hammering them with digital remnants. Haze from heavy light is an added layer, graciously applied.

Terminal is consistently lifted by saturation, with a strengthened palette touched by post-production. Primaries are fierce and flesh tones piercing. A handful of scenes are popped with a haze of warmth (a bookstore meeting with Hanks/Zeta-Jones) to accentuate mood.

This mightily contrasted look is bound together by force. Black crush is normalcy and some scenery bleaching is an effect of ferocious lighting schemes. Preservation of on-set detail often forgoes the needs of Kaminski’s stamped look. JFK’s fully built Terminal one is still a masterful creation (visibly so) no matter the lens trickery applied.

And no matter the densely packed grain structure, fidelity is beautiful. Close-ups render facial definition with a dominating sharpness. Textural qualities are sublime. Medium shots peer through the crammed Eastman film stock to establish an identity missing for years on DVD editions. MPEG-2 was not kind to this complex offering.

Video ★★★★☆ 

Terminal is a two hour display of ambiance. The airport is appreciably active with passer-bys or planes taking off. Purposefully, some fired up engines awake Navorski from a brief sleep early, the only instance of egregious volume fluctuation and it is a necessity tied to the moment.

Throughout this DTS-HD mix, there is always something occurring. Another John Williams’ scoring masterpiece is involved with a mixture of pep, vigor, and dour mood setting as needed. No speaker channel is alleviated from duty. Musical wrapping around the field is handled deftly. Mixed in with the ambiance, the element balancing act is notable. Terminal exhibits the ability to extend a film beyond its 2D structure in a way few people may notice, if becoming no less integral to the feature.

Audio ★★★★☆ 

Owners of a three disc, limited edition DVD will find all of the bonuses carried into the veins of this Blu-ray release, although they will lose an original soundtrack CD.

Bonuses start up with Boarding the Flight, a plot recap and story construction featurette in one. Waiting for the Flight dives into the construction of the mammoth full size set used to create Terminal One. Boarding splits into three departments to detail characters, spending a half hour on the people inside of this mini-world.

Traditional making-of routines are put into Take Off for 17-minutes, with In Flight Service following to tackle the score. With finality, Landing: Airport Stories pulls cast & crew together to detail their funny stories of air travel.

You can also cruise a photo gallery and then peer at two trailers if interested.

Extras ★★★☆☆ 

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For more information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.

  • Howard Hand

    Are you planning on covering Spielberg’s other films that are on Blu-Ray? (The Color Purple, Empire of the Sun, Hook, Schindler’s List, Amistad, and A.I). I’d love to hear your thoughts on them.

  • I would have loved to on their release dates, but that studio doesn’t offer us review copies. That’s why we don’t have them already. It’s late post-release to dig into them now. I’ll toss them on the request list. If I come across them cheap enough, I can post them as filler when we have a hole to fill. Thanks for the comment.