Watched MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS
Film contains all the elements that come with the Kenneth Branagh Seal of Quality. You get a strong cast, strong performances, good pacing. There is a somewhat new veneer of artistic imagery going on here though which I didn’t totally expect from Branagh.
The film is made to look a bit like a fantasy film and will remind people a bit of films like THE GOLDEN COMPASS, HUGO, or even the animated film THE POLAR EXPRESS.
The mystery was pretty satisfying and Branagh does a great job breathing energy into his portrayal of Agatha Christie detective hero Hercule Poirot. It is through him the movie moves.
But Branagh’s Poirot is far from the only occupant of this painterly 1930’s world. An ensemble cast that extends across lead and secondary roles imbues many characters with a hero or heroine like quality that it feels like each one can star in their own movie.
It was a joy to watch them all.
There are a number of changes and embelishments I understand between this 2017 film adaptation and the original novel, but they are all changes I approve of.
Particularly there are big changes to the start and to the end of the story that I feel are actually superior to the original book.
A word of warning though to realism nerds. The mystery does not actually play fair. Out of twelve possible murder suspects, key revelations for a good number of them occur in a single scene late in the second half just as Poirot is about to make a momentous accusation.
No one in the film has a fighting chance of staying ahead of Poirot, and that includes the rest of us. There’s better chances of us figuring out how many hairs are in Poirot’s magnificent moustache rather than properly discerning the mystery from the evidence given to us.
However, as a murder mystery drama - rather than a fully realistic murder mystery - it totally works. One feels the fantasy-like imagery was meant to ease our minds into seeing this world as not quite like our own and if that was the intent, then this film succeeds wonderfully.
I felt a positive energy throughout this film. Like everyone on it had a great time, so I expect very interesting featurettes and I wait with expectation for a special edition BluRay of this film early next year.