Is it worth it?
My Rating: B
Murder On The Orient Express is a movie adaption of an Agatha Christie novel of the same name. The classic story, first published in 1934, is no stranger to onscreen adaptions, having been brought to the big screen and on television several times since its cinematic debut in 1974.
Basically, it is a murder mystery – a “whodunnit” as they say. The time period is the 1930s, and the main story is set on a train (The Orient Express) bound for Europe from Turkey. Famous detective Hercule Poirot, played by Kenneth Branagh (“Professor Lockhart” himself, sporting an even more prominent moustache than the one he had in “Wild Wild West”), was on his way to France to render his services for an official case when his intended quiet journey on the train was disturbed by yet another clandestine murder. Thus began his reluctant quest to solve the mystery.
Having neither read the novel nor watched any of the previous film/ TV incarnations, I went into the theater with no expectations except to see the talented cast in action. In that regard, I was not disappointed. The cast list read like a who’s who in Hollywood including Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley (Star Wars – The Force Awakens), Judi Dench, Willem Dafoe, Josh Gad, etc. Everyone delivered, especially the main lead himself, who commanded the scene every time he was on, French accent and all. Unfortunately, the acting was just about the only thing that buoyed the movie for me.
Other than the acting, I thought the story itself was good (it’s Agatha Christie after all), albeit a little dated, but regrettably, the way it was told made it less engaging than it could have been. What I mean is this: for a murder mystery story to be engaging, one has to tell it in such a way that the audience gets involved, i.e. the audience “partners” the detective, follows him, looks at the clues presented and makes their own deductions. THAT was what felt missing in this movie. There was a lot of heavy exposition and information given that the audience had no way of knowing beforehand. Thus, one could, most of the time, only watch the events unfold rather than “take part” in the story and anticipate who the killer was.
Overall though, I thought it was still a rather entertaining movie. The cinematography and visuals (sets, costumes, make-up, etc) were gorgeous. The score was alright. In conclusion, I would say… watch this if you are out in town and have a bit of time to spare. Otherwise, you can always entertain yourself with a game of Cluedo at home… Professor Plum, in the lounge, with a dagger… …
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