Starring: Tom Hanks, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Stanley Tucci Director: Steven Spielberg Category: IIA It pays to ignore the fact that Steven Spielberg drew his inspiration for The Terminal from the true story of Mehran Karimi Nasseri. That tale is all a little too real, too depressing for the Hollywood image machine. So, what we have is the basic premise - foreign man gets trapped in airport - with none of the sadder images of mental disintegration that accompany Nasseri's 19 years at Paris' Charles de Gaulle. There are some usual Spielberg touches, too - a fight against mindless authority, knock-you- on-the-head sentimentality and a plot that holds few real surprises. But the film also has Tom Hanks in the lead role and that goes a long, long way towards making the whole thing enjoyable. Hanks plays Viktor Navorski with the effortless style that's become his trademark. He's a man from an eastern European country on a secret and personal mission to New York. But he finds himself trapped at the airport when a war back home robs him of any legal standing. And so he must learn to survive in this new and sometimes hostile environment. At times, Spielberg catches just the right airport atmosphere - that mad mass of humanity, that hypnotic air of almost suspended animation that goes along with life there. And much of this good work is done in the first half of the film - when Navorski struggles valiantly to survive and learn about his new home, and when we meet the many and varied characters who inhabit the airport. Of the support cast, the reliable Stanley Tucci fares best, as Navorski's nemesis - he is mindless, nasty bureaucracy personified. Catherine Zeta-Jones seems to have attended the Meg Ryan School for Ditzy Love Interests and doesn't really add much to proceedings except kooky looks. By contrast, the priceless Kumar Pallana (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums - above, with Hanks) adds welcome comic relief. But this is Hanks' show, first and foremost. His inspired, warm turn has you forgetting the heavy-handed run-in towards the films' denouement and leaves you smiling when he slowly but surely begins to win all his little battles. In the end, when The Terminal works, it does so almost in spite of itself. Although Spielberg loves to drum home his ambitions, it's the moments of stillness that touch the most. The Terminal opens today.