Wednesday, December 6, 2017

"Murder on the Orient Express" Review by Tim Hellman

'MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS': Three and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

A new cinematic version of Agatha Christie's classic 1934 murder mystery novel, which has been adapted into films three times before. Kenneth Branagh directed, produced and stars in the movie; as the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. Poirot is in charge of investigating a murder on the famous Orient Express. It was written by Michael Green, who's recent writing credits include co-scripting 'BLADE RUNNER 2049', 'LOGAN' and 'ALIEN COVENANT'. The film also features an all-star supporting cast including Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Willem Dafoe, Josh Gad and Johnny Depp. Ridley Scott also served as a producer on the flick, and it was shot on 65mm film. The movie has received mostly positive reviews from critics (although none are really raving about it), and it's also done modestly well at the Box Office too. I found it to be well made, and mostly (at least mildly) entertaining, but I'm definitely not raving about it either.

The story begins in 1930s Jerusalem, where the famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (Branagh) is solving a case. He's then expecting to go on a highly anticipated vacation. Before he can go on it though, he's given a telegram asking for his assistance on another case. His friend Buoc (Tom Bateman), who now directs the famous 'Orient Express', offers him a three day ride to his destination. Poirot meets a variety of different characters on his trip, including an American criminal named Samuel Ratchett (Depp). Ratchett asks the detective for his help, in acting as his personal bodyguard, but Poirot declines (stating that he doesn't aide criminals, he only catches them). Later Ratchett is killed, and the train is derailed by an avalanche. While the passengers are all stranded there, Poirot conducts an investigation to find out who killed Ratchett, and of course it has to be someone who's still on the train.

The movie is beautiful to look at; it looks like a classic big screen epic at almost all times. Branagh is of course a very talented filmmaker, and actor too, and he doesn't disappoint here. Most of the rest of the celebrities have little to do though; with the exception of Pfeiffer, who's always good in almost everything she does (it seems like). The story is a classic mystery as well, but (as I already said) it's been done multiple times before, and there's nothing really new here. I did have a mostly good time watching it though, but it's also nothing that will stay with me for very long.

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