Film Review 2017 – Spotlight: “Muder on the Orient Express”

Stephanie Katherine Y., Co-Editor/Contributor

Istanbul. 1934. 12 strangers, probably never to see each other again, board the opulent train, the  Orient Express. However, nestled among this seemingly ordinary bushel of individuals, is a quite extraordinary individual. His name is Hercules Poirot and as stated by himself, “probably the greatest detective in the world.” Suddenly, a passenger on the train is pronounced dead. He has been stabbed 9 odd times, however his passenger doors are locked from the inside.

While this is indeed the heart of the action, hence the title of the film (the operative word being “murder” here), Michael Green who penned the remake wastes valuable screen time by creating an opening sequence that is not terribly expository and is nowhere to be found in the novel. That being said, once the murder takes place, the film’s pace increases dramatically, allowing Kenneth Branagh’s directing and acting to take center stage. He expertly brought the character of Poirot to life, filled with both intelligence and ingenuity. In fact, out of a cast of colorful and multi-dimensional characters, Branagh’s Poirot was the most endearing and humorous of all.

Although Orient Express had me enraptured the entire duration, the extensive exterior VFX and interior train sets did more to distract than to engage the viewer. It became apparent early on in the film that the snow outside the train was not real, but in fact the product of a great deal of visual effects. While I am one of the biggest fans of VFX films, such as Inception and Gravity, the sleek filmmaking was a bit too modern for a mid-20th century period drama.

For fans of the famed Agatha Christie novel by the same title, the film most definitely does her great work justice. However, it is very a modern interpretation on the book and includes many political and social asides to today’s climate.

Final Verdict: 7.5/10

While Kenneth Branagh’s “Murder on the Orient Express” was a delightful movie experience, as an avid Christie reader, the film and ultra-modern filmmaking detracted from the film and took away some of the post-Depression era European charm represented in the novel.