Saturday, March 31, 2018

Murder on the Orient Express (2017) (on DVD)

I am a huge Agatha Christie fan, having been introduced to Dame Agatha’s novels back in my teen years by my mother. I am also a hugh Kenneth Branagh fan — his Henry V and Dead Again are two of my all-time favorite movies! So, you’d think this was a slam dunk for being a film that I would love. While I did enjoy this 2017 version of Murder on the Orient Express, I was ultimately a bit disappointed in it.
Not because it isn’t a good film — it is a very good film, with many good performances in it. It’s just that the 1974 version with Albert Finney as Poirot is one of my all-time favorite films, and this didn’t quite match up to it. Branagh as Poirot gives a decent enough performance, but he physically does not resemble the character as described by Agatha Christie in her novels and stories. And his interpretation of the fussy little Belgian detective’s mannerisms just felt “off”. And don’t get me started on the mustache! That was just wrong in every way. Still…this version of the film (like the 1974) features an all-star cast, including Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Leslie Odom Jr., Josh Gad, Derek Jakobi, Judy Dench, Willem Dafoe, Penelope Cruz, and Michelle Pfeiffer (and more). The backgrounds of several of Christie’s characters are tinkered with in order to accommodate some of these “star castings”, sometimes in ways that pay disservice to the original story.
The setting of the Orient Express train is done very well, though the extensive use of CGI effects to show the train in motion is sometimes painfully obvious. A sequence involving an action-adventure chase on scaffolding is added, which wasn’t in the book, and feels unnecessary. However, another scene that differs from the book turns out to be one of the best in the film, as Poirot angrily confronts the tableau of suspects in a train tunnel at the film’s climax.
Christie purists may have lots of problems with this film. I came into it wanting to love it, and left wishing I liked it more than I did. As a film, on its own merits, its perfectly fine. It just suffers in comparison to other versions of Murder on the Orient Express. I do, ultimately, recommend it…but I also recommend viewing what’s come before!
[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Murder on the Orient Express (the 1974 version with Albert Finney), Murder on the Orient Express (the 2010 2-hour version with David Suchet) or the original print novel Murder on the Orient Express

Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Murder on the Orient Express (2017) web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library
Have you read this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

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