Entertainment » Movies

Murder On The Orient Express

by Derek Deskins
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Mar 2, 2018
Murder On The Orient Express

Kenneth Branagh makes old-fashioned movies. Of the sixteen feature films that he has directed, only three are not based on established properties, be they books, plays, or even an opera. Of all of those films, Shakespearean adaptations are clearly his bread-and-butter (a strength that's largely the reason he directed Marvel's "Thor"). As the times have changed, Branagh hasn't really, lending his films a bit of an old-Hollywood vibe. So, it's not really a surprise that he took the reins of the new "Murder on the Orient Express," or that it is as staid as it ultimately is.

In 1934, the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot solves any mystery that confounds all others. Having just wrapped up a case in Jerusalem, Poirot is exhausted and looking for a respite from crime solving. Unfortunately, duty calls and he must return to London for another case. Luckily, his friend Bouc is the director of the Orient Express and able to offer him a room. What starts as a relaxing train ride soon turns to darkness when one of the occupants winds up stabbed to death. Stranded in the snow, it is up to Poirot to solve the case.

Kenneth Branagh's "Murder on the Orient Express" comes bearing everything that fans of the 1974 film could want. It features a heavily loaded cast of both pedigreed actors (Dame Judi Dench, Michelle Pfeiffer, Willem Dafoe) and younger up-and-comers (Daisey Ridley, Josh Gad, Leslie Odom Jr.), beautiful costumes, wonderful visuals, and a mystery that hits all of the important Agatha Christie beats. But for those coming to the film without a deep admiration of the original novel and/or film, it's a bit of a tougher sell.

The biggest problem is that the film doesn't do anything all that special, which is somewhat par for the course with Branagh films. He is content to let the acting speak for itself and rarely does anything interesting to the story or the way the film is assembled. Even more so, Branagh appears to be enamored with his own performance. Certainly, Poirot is the film's lead, but almost gratuitously so. Branagh has the camera linger on him for long takes, seemingly to communicate some kind of super Poirot contemplation, but his insistence on keeping the focus on Poirot almost entirely undercuts the other performances in the film. They struggle to be little more than set dressing for Branagh's masturbatory performance. It doesn't keep the film from being watchable, or politely enjoyable, but it certainly precludes it from being anything special.

The Blu-ray release does offer plenty in the way of special features, however, one thing of note is that outside of the feature commentary, all of the features all constrained to the Blu-ray disc. So, if you splurge for the 4K Ultra HD copy (which is a visual feast and truly showcases just how well shot the film is) expect to have to switch discs to enjoy all of the features. It's a quibble for what is a well-packed release of a mediocre film, but quibbling is what I do best.

"Murder on the Orient Express"
4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD
https://www.foxmovies.com/
$39.99

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