Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient ExpressDirector: Kenneth Branagh
Run Time: 1h 54m
Stars: 1.5

All aboard! For the longest train ride of your life. (Yes, even longer than Snowpiercer.)

World’s greatest detective, Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) is as observant as he is knowledgeable. There isn’t a criminal he can’t flush out or a motive he can’t uncover. After solving yet another case, he secures last-minute passage to France aboard the Orient Express. His fellow passengers come from all walks of life and appear to have nothing in common. That is until an avalanche derails their train, delaying their respective arrivals…and making them all suspects in the murder of one of the travelers. Poirot has a matter of days to find the killer before a rescue team is sent and the local police name a killer, guilty or not. Poirot must wade through the lies and deception to uncover the truth, and he may not like what he finds at the end.

Holy boring, Sherlock.

Fun fact:  When I was about four, my mom would take my brother and me to visit my grandma 250 miles away. We drove a couple times but we frequented the train which took about five hours. My mom, being a champion, would pack enough toys and activities to keep us occupied for the entire trip. One time, the conductor’s son was aboard the train. He was only slightly older than I was, but was allowed to roam freely because “privilege” or whatever. Anyway, he took a liking to my baby doll. The little b*****d took my doll, all her accessories, and went back to his cabin with them until it was time for us to depart. It was the longest train ride of my life. Until the Orient Express.

Murder on the Orient Express is only two hours but felt like five. And watching it is like being aboard a train bound for Grandma’s and having your favorite baby doll stolen for the duration of your journey. In a word: excruciating.

Kenneth Branagh manages to deliver some very witty lines, but he honestly saved all of the best jokes for himself. Scratch that, he saved all the jokes for himself…period. Granted, this was not a comedy but to have the “hero” of our story the sole source of comedic relief was annoying to say the least.

What’s worse is Branagh is surrounded by acting royalty and they are made to look like amateurs. The whole movie felt like an acting exercise rather than a real film. I mean Daisy Ridley, Willem Dafoe, Josh Gad, Michelle Pfeiffer…JUDI DENCH!! It was like they were all actually stranded on this train with nothing better to do than play one of those ‘How to Host a Murder’ dinners that come in a box. (Actually, I would’ve preferred that over watching this movie.) In her defense, Ridley did manage to have some heartfelt scenes with Branagh; however fleeting they may have been.

And as terrible as the movie itself is, the sets and costumes were great. The train was impeccably designed. The costumes were much the same. Every character was from a different part of the world and a different level of status. Their clothing and belongings reflected each rather well. I appreciated the attention to detail where so much else was overlooked.

I did manage a few laughs, and I was mesmerized by the set design quality. Other than that, this is a mess that leads to the most absurd ending. I was bored with the original, and I was bored with the remake. Murder on the Orient Express should be stabbed to death just like its main victim. I don’t think even the great Hercule Poirot could figure out how to fix this literal train wreck. Skip!

I will always offer Clue as a contender for one of my favorite whodunits.

But I’d love to watch Hercule Poirot navigate an evening as one of the great detectives invited to an evening of dinner and murder with a rich stranger. Alas, he was not, but that doesn’t stop 1976’s Murder by Death from being a spectacular display of cinematic gold.


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