27 April 2018

Books to Movies: Murder on the Orient Express

Review: Murder on the Orient ExpressWho doesn't love Agatha Christie and her famous detective Hercule Poirot, with his little gray cells? Murder on the Orient Express is one of Christie's most well-known novels, still widely read even 80-some years after its release.

The novel is so popular it has appeared on the big screen (at least three times now) and was also incorporated into the television series Poirot staring David Suchet.

Although I haven't read every Christie novel, I've read many and was looking forward to seeing the 2017 movie Murder on the Orient Express, written by Michael Green and directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also stars as Poirot, complete with a gigantic mustache. I missed watching the movie in the theater, but thanks to Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, I was able to watch a screener, now that the movie is out in digital, Blu-Ray, and DVD formats.

Like many other reviewers, I had mixed feelings about Green and Branagh's interpretation. I loved the costumes, the scenery, the train, and the stars (the cast includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Penélope Cruz, Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe, and Judi Dench). I liked some of the angles of filming, such as scenes shot through the train windows (you can get a glimpse in the trailer) and the wide views of the gorgeous winter scenery.

Review: Murder on the Orient ExpressI would like to say that I loved Branagh's take on Poirot, but I didn't. He made the detective more OCD than fussy and infused the character with some disconcerting angst, including his pining over a photograph of the love of his life. Branagh was also more athletic than the Poirot I have in my imagination. Mostly, though, I missed the feeling that the Belgian's little gray cells were working overtime. Instead, I found a reluctant detective who was almost lucky to have solved the case.

Although I loved seeing the many stars in the movie, I didn't think they were given enough chance to distinguish themselves, and I had actually forgotten about a couple of the suspects until they were interviewed by Poirot. Of course, I knew the solution to the murder, but I still expected some suspense at the denouement, when Poirot announces that he has solved the case and explains his reasoning. I just didn't feel the tension.

In the end, I'm glad I waited to watch Murder on the Orient Express via a screener instead of going to the theater. It's worth the time to watch, but I'm not sure I'd want to own it. The digital/Blu-Ray edition includes quite a bit of bonus materials, which may be fun to watch, but my recommendation is to wait until you can see the movie on one of your streaming services.

Here's the trailer.


Amanda 4/27/18, 8:49 AM  

I actually enjoyed the movie more than the book, mostly because while reading, I didn't like Poirot at all. He seemed too stereotyped for me to enjoy, and I quickly forgot everything about the book. I didn't remember the solution to the mystery at all, and enjoyed watching it all unfold. I also had no idea who was playing Poirot until the credits, and was astounded. (I'm not good with actors, so this is a regular occurrence for me, haha!)

Joy 4/27/18, 9:26 AM  

We watched on a rented HD DVD (my husband is into TV equipment) and I appreciated the beauty of the film. Like you, I couldn't make myself care much about the characters or the plot.

bermudaonion 4/27/18, 9:34 AM  

I decided to skip the movie because I'm one of the few people who didn't love the book.

KatieF 4/27/18, 11:07 AM  

I totally agree with everything you say - I feel like once you see David Suchet as Poirot, no other Poirot can do the character justice!

Tina 4/27/18, 2:41 PM  

We watched this recently too and I wish the other characters had more time to develop. Branagh didn't work for me either. Loved him as Gildaroy Lockheart in Harry Potter but this wasn't a good role for him.

Greg 4/28/18, 12:55 AM  

The mustache, Wow. :) But seriously I've heard the same thing, it wasn't really worth a movie theater ticket (given prices) and is definitely fine with waiting for streaming. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing it, and was thinking of watching the 1973 version and then this one and kinda comparing.

Katherine P 4/29/18, 2:42 PM  

I'm an enormous Agatha Christie fan and I've read Orient Express probably a dozen times but I was really hesitant to see this one in theaters. I loved all the casting choices except for Kenneth Branagh. I've really enjoyed him in other movies but I just couldn't get my head around him as Poirot. It sounds like I was right to be hesitant! I will watch this but it's not at the top of my list.

Daryl 5/7/18, 10:52 AM  

i am sure i have seen all the films of all her books (those made into films, that is) and how lucky for me i cant remember the endings ... so any new reading or viewing will be a surprise ..

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