Ten Questions You’re Asking about Spielberg’s The Terminal

1. Is it worth seeing?

Yes.

2. Why is it worth seeing?

Because it’s Tom Hanks at his very best, with the most multi-dimensional and convincing character he’s played in a long time. The movie set itself–an airport terminal constructed for the film–is a thing of beauty, and Janusz Kaminski films it in a spectacular array of kaleidoscopic light.

3. Is it as good as Catch Me If You Can?

No.

4. Is it grossly sentimental?

Sometimes, yes.

5. Is it a realistic and observant cultural commentary?

Sometimes, yes.

6. Do these two things blend well together?

Absolutely not. It feels like somebody took a sentimental, sappy, Hollywood movie full of cliches and tied it together with an artful, subtle, realistic film and then entered them both in a three-legged race… which they lost.

7. Isn’t it kinda like stealing for Steven Spielberg to take Wes Anderson’s beloved supporting actor Kumar and put him in his own movie?

Yes, kinda. It bugged me. But he was fine, and I’m happy to see him continuing his bizarre rise to stardom.

8. Is it true that Catherine Zeta-Jones is awful in this film?

No. She’s not bad. But the lines they make her say are awful. And I kept getting distracted by the spooky fact that she actually looks a whole lot younger in this film than she did in other recent films.

9. Did John Williams do the soundtrack?

Of course he did, but it’s one of his most forgettable works. His work for Harry Potter 3 was wonderful, the best in that franchise, but this is just standard emotional wallpaper.

10. Did it remind you of other movies?

Yes… a lot of them, all at once. Hanks’ character is E.T., Cast Away, Truman Burbank from The Truman Show, Forrest Gump, that poor persecuted dude from Philadelphia, and the kid from Big all tied into one person here.

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.

  • Jim

    “It feels like somebody a sentimental, sappy, Hollywood movie full of cliches and tied it together with an artful, subtle, realistic film and then entered them both in a three-legged race… which they lost.”

    This is why you’re my hero, man.


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