Murder on The Orient Express (REVIEW)
I'll start by saying I haven't read the book this is based on and only have passing knowledge of Hercules Poirot as a character from the David Suchet version. I count that as a good thing as I was able to be more involved of the mystery of the film and be genuinely surprised by the ending.
Kenneth Branagh as Poirot was suitable quirky, charming and hard edged when necessary and that was perhaps the best part of the film. As for the rest of the cast I found that having such an array of characters was not something that could be explored as well as a movie of this length could every try to. with 12 people as suspects it's very difficult to get a sense of who these people are and what they mean to each other. I'd imagine you can fill in the blanks having read the book but as a first time viewer I found it hard to really latch onto one person. It was like watching a so-so episode of Sherlock without the extra wit and energy that series is so good at exuding. the opening sequence with Poirot on another case was a fun opener if only to set up his character. That is another flaw of the film is that like most films we have to have the 20 minute set up of who everybody is and I'd rather have that unfold and discovered as we go along in the story
The set design was wonderful and the look of the 65mm film was a welcome change to the more standard film but like I said in my article it looks like large format film and digital could be the way forward for big Hollywood productions and as much as I hyped it up in my head the steadicam long shot at least for me wasn't as impressive as I was hoping it might be. I'm sure on 70MM it was a challenge but if Christopher Nolan can strap IMAX cameras to planes then we can get some better shots.
The performances were all just alright for me, the tone was one that felt more like people playing dress up and being their "title" rather than people. It felt very hammed up for the camera and that was definitely a bummer because I'm sure there are some great and interesting characters that are in the book that just did not make it to the screen. There was no stand out performance outside of Poirot. There were some that were so small you kind of forget they are even there and that again is a hindrance. I just didn't get any kind of connect to any one and that is this film's biggest weakness.
The best way to describe this film is, dry. It just has a stuffiness to it that could not be cut through. Maybe one day there will be a mini-series that takes it's time and lets these characters breath and plant seeds here and there as to whodunnit but as it stands this film feels like a very condensed rushed affair with the false answers coming in seemingly at random with twists that land with a thud more than a bang, that makes it very difficult to grasp what exactly is happening and confused me more than it intrigued me.
just too little of too much