Kenneth Branagh is Hercule Poirot in Murder on the Orient Express. (20th Century Fox image)

Kenneth Branagh is Hercule Poirot in Murder on the Orient Express. (20th Century Fox image)

Reel Reviews: Justice for a classic

We say, “Murder on the Orient Express is pretty, but maybe too familiar to be perfect.”

A lavish train ride through Europe is interrupted by a murder. Luckily the worlds’ greatest detective, Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh), in on board and on the case.

We say, “Murder on the Orient Express is pretty, but maybe too familiar to be perfect.”

TAYLOR: As you have a murder mystery on a train, you have an ensemble cast to make up the suspects. On board this film are: Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judy Dench, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfieffer and others. Actor-director Branagh co-won an award with his cinematographer for their work on this film and rightfully so. Murder on the Orient Express has an epic, grand feel that needs to be seen on the big screen to be fully appreciated. Although a lot of the film was shot on location in the places to which the train travels, they did make use of computer graphics and other film trickery. However, as this film was shot on 65mm film, everything had to have that classic movie look and feel. There were a few times that scenes looked odd, you could tell when things were being faked, speeds looked wrong or out of sync, but for the most part this is a beautiful film.

HOWE: I know you cannot change a classic, but we have seen by the BBC’s Sherlock series that you can change it up and put a new spin on a classic novel. In this film you have so many stars, many of whom are Academy-winners or nominees at least, yet they are so wooden here it makes Pinocchio seem like a real boy. I was nearly nodding off at the back of the theatre, if it wasn’t for the guy two rows in front of me munching on his popcorn.

TAYLOR: The downside, represented by already knowing the story, is that the audience feels like the film is going through the motions. Just by being willing to resurrect a classic story, already turned into a fine film in 1974, Branagh can’t help but have his back up against it. Still, this is a good telling of the story and they did make superficial changes, amalgamate characters for instance. Still, all the joy you can glean out of this film doesn’t come from the performances, which are excellent, if somewhat predictable, nor the plot — it comes from the majesty. Thus, see it on the big screen.

HOWE: I would say save your money and watch a far better version on Netflix starring David Suchet in the leading role, or if you really need a night out at the movies I would go see A Bad Moms’ Christmas. I can’t think it could be any worse.

Taylor gives Murder on the Orient Express 2.5 miles of track.

Howe gives it two very nice looking deserts out of five.

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