Monday, 11 December 2017

Murder on the Orient Express film review

I went to see this with my friends at the Birstall Showcase cinema.

IMDB says: When a murder occurs on the train he's travelling on, celebrated detective Hercule Poirot is recruited to solve the case.

In this Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn, TV Wallander) directed film, screenplay written by Michael Green (Logan, TVs Heroes) based on the novel by Agatha Christie, Kenneth Branagh also stars as Hercule Poirot. 

When Poirot decides to leave on the Orient Express, directed by his friend Bouc (Tom Bateman), the train gets stopped because of an avalanche caused by heavy snow and this gives way to a murder plot unfolding.  The murder victim American businessman Edward Ratchett (Johnny Depp: Edward Scissorhands, Finding Neverland) has secrets.

An eclectic bunch of first class travellers include Governess Mary Debenham (Daisy Ridley: ), doctor Arbuthnot (Leslie Odom Junior), Ratchett's valet Edward Masterman (Derek Jacobi) and secretary Hector MacQueen (Josh Gad), Austrian Professor Gerhard Hardman (Willem Defoe), American Socialite Mrs Hubbard (Michelle Pfeiffer), Italian car saleman Beniamino Marquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), elderly Princess Dragomiroff (Judy Dench) and her assistant Hildegarde Schmidt (Olivia Coleman), unhappy missionary Pilar Astravados (Penélope Cruz) and the Count and Countess Andrenyi (Sergei Polunin and Lucy Boynton) and they are all now suspects.  The victim was stabbed 12 times, Poirot has to work out by whom.


For me, Poirot will forever be David Suchet, but I was interested to see what this new take on the classic Agatha Christie story would be, especially with such big actors in the roles. 

It started well, a great couple of scenes demarcating Poirots' character involving the capture of a criminal at the wailing wall and an amusing set piece when he runs into Bouc.

After this however, it goes downhill.  Branagh does not make for a good Poirot (don't get me started on the moustache - does it have it's own twitter account?  If not, it should), there are gaping plot holes/flaws (e.g. the film makes a point of telling us that the train is full, which with only 12 passengers does make you wonder what happened to all the other carriages) and I am not sure what technique Depp was using for his character, but it was not working.  The film drags apart from the last 20 minutes and the alteration to the storyline is unnecessary and does not improve on the original, rather the opposite. 

The scenery is stunning, as are the sets and costumes but the film is ultimately disappointing.

At the end of the film Poirot is asked to go investigate another crime which points towards a planned remake of Death on the Nile.  I, for one, hope not.

Johnny Depp in Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

Trivia:  Michelle Pfeiffer sings "Never Forget" over the closing credits of the film. The song was co-written by composer Patrick Doyle and director/star Kenneth Branagh. 

In between filming, Josh Gad "interrogated" an annoyed Daisy Ridley several times in an attempt to get her to answer his questions about Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), filming the reactions with his smartphone. Several actors and cast members took part in it, including Judi Dench, Penélope Cruz, Chris Pratt and The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams. These hilarious videos can be found on Gad's Facebook and Instagram.

Character positions in a shot near the end of the movie, with all the suspects sitting at a long table in the mouth of the tunnel mimics the exact positions of the figures in DaVinci's painting "The Last Supper." 

Much of the cast and extras are made up of Kenneth Branagh's closest friends and acquaintances, with many of them having either been directed by Branagh in his previous projects, co-starred with Branagh in a film or theatre production, and/or have been a member of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company.

In real life there was one actual murder on The Orient Express. Maria Farcasanu was robbed and murdered by Karl Strasser, who pushed her out of the moving train, one year after Agatha Christie's book was published. Also, in 1950, Simon Karpe disappeared from the train under suspicious circumstances involving espionage; some elements inspired Ian Fleming's From Russia with Love.


Tagline:  Everyone is a suspect.                                                  4/10

#MurderOnTheOrientExpress #KennethBrannagh #JudyDench #JohnnyDepp #MichellePfeiffer #WillemDafoe #PenelopeCruz #DerekJacobi #DaisyRidley #TomBateman #OliviaColeman

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