Murder on the Orient Express (Movie Review)

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Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” is one of her best novels, and the best in her Hercules Poirot series so it is with a heavy heart that I must express my deepest sympathies to those who feel that I am being unfair with my upcoming review of this latest adaptation.

I was eager to see this movie. As a big fan of police and crime dramas, I was excited to see one of the greateste detectives, as Kenneth Branagh who plays him in this film (which he also directs) boasted. But I was sorely disappointed. The movie feels extremely apologetic with the writers having tried so hard to make us like the characters. I ended up feeling that some of the theatrics were over the top and unnecessary. Indeed, some of the characters ended up being cartoonish, with Poirot not being played as the methodical, dapper, complex man that he is in the novels.
The end result is another one of Hollywood’s recent attempts to modernize a timeless classic. And I say classic despite the novel being less than a century old. Published in 1934, the story centers on a gruesome morder on the Orient Express. Poirot is the only qualified to take on the case. Whereas the film lacks some of the more comedic elements of the book, the latter doesn’t shy away from inserting light-hearted humor, balancing it with the darker overtones of the ‘victim’ (and I use that term lightly here for those who have already read the book or seen the film) and those involved in the murder.
The novel has a lot of heart. It is something unique, and as the other ones of Agatha’s detective novels, by making the characters flawed, and difficult to decipher they become subjects that we can all relato.
Poirot is not an easy man to interpret and I was hoping that if someone could outdo Finney and Suchet, it would be Kenneth Branagh. The man is not only a great director, he is a great actor. A Shakesperean actor at that! But the movie suffers from trying too hard.
The direction is good, the settings are wonderful, and it deserved to be at least nominated in those categories. But it cut through many important details and overdid it on others. Had it not left out the important details, then all of Poirot’s conclusions would have been easily understood. He is not just one of the world’s best detectives because of his intuition or passion to take on a big challenge such as this one, he is the best because he is highly methodical and nothing escapes his eye. In fact, Daisy Ridley’s character (the governess) points this out at the beginning of the film.
There is also some role reversals which I won’t complain about because it didn’t change the ending of the film, or undermine the plot; but I would have liked the movie to be longer so audiences would have become more invested on these characters and their grievances.

I will say this though. I do not hate this film. It is entertaining, but it is not as great as I thought it would be. Out of all the performances, the one that stood out the most was Michelle Pfeiffer.

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Book Review (Nostalgia edition #1) Murder at the Orient Express

Murder at the orient express by Agatha Christie

Before watching the movie, read the book! That is the general rule, but it is truer when it comes to detective fiction because there is only so much that an adaptation can fit in, especially when in film.

While I do not wish to compare her fiction with that of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle since the two lived at a different time and place, I feel that I must. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle no doubt inspired many authors, but it was Agatha Christie’s mysteries with her two witty protagonists, Hercules Poirot and Mrs. Marple that did more to popularize the genre of detective fiction.

These last two stand out more than their predecessor because whereas Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s mammoth books tended to drag on, Christie’s mysteries cut straight to the chase. She did not shy away from pointing out the horrible nature of her suspects and victims without being as repetitive as the former.
Hercules Poirot relies purely on logic, being (as Kenneth Branagh who plays him in the recent adaptation of this novel brags) “possibly the best detective” that ever lived. Not apologetic about the arrogance her protagonist displays, Hercules Poirot remains one of the best detectives in fiction. He is not afraid to boast because he knows he can deliver, but he is also a human being subject to his own biases and as he comes closer to uncovering the truth, he’s faced with one the toughest decisions he will ever have to make.

The story centers on an unusual murder at the Orient Express, one of the most luxurious train rides of the last century. Hercules Poirot can’t come to grasp with the reality of the situation. Could there be more than one killer? The evidence suggests that there was more than one murderer, yet the case remains a paradox and with the train stranded, tensions continue to rise. Everyone is a suspect and no one is safe from Poirot’s watchful eye and methodical mind.
The end will leave readers shocked but satisfied as Poirot explains how he solved the case and what he plans to do next.
and the conclusion will be something that will leave everyone satisfied and shocked.

If you do not have time to read the book and prefer to watch the movie first, you can purchase it on kindle and then on audible or start a free trial on the latter to get it for free and after one month cancel your trial. Mystery and suspense readers won’t be disappointed.