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MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (2017) - Post Release Thread

post #1 of 124
Thread Starter 

Not totally convinced this needs a post release thread, but a few people in the pre-release seemed really keen on it, so here we go.

 

It's 'fine'. Some very good performances, especially from Branagh. A couple of action sequences briefly injected and I think the reveal and the denouement go on a fraction too long, but it's a faithful enough adaptation from what I remember from the book (it's been a few years since I read it).

 

Surprisingly, for such an epic cast, there are very few moments with each of them. Olivia Coleman has very little to do, Judi Dench feels a little short changed as well. Conversely, Ridley gets a bit more than I think she gets in the story. (sidebar: my missus was convinced it was Keira Knightley the whole time until the credits rolled).

 

I also got a bit annoyed with the Nile sequel bait at the end. The film didn't need it, and it makes no bloody sense... both in terms of chronology, in terms of what happens in Death on the Nile and in just plain commonsense ('We need you to come to Egypt to solve a crime' ... 'but I'm in bloody Yugoslavia in the 30s. It's going to take at least a week to get there').

 

But overall, it's a well crafted and well meaning film. Branagh does a grand job as Poirot. I can't see it offending anyone but it's not quite good enough to scoop any major awards.

post #2 of 124

Did people forget Agatha Christie wrote roughly a million Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple books?

post #3 of 124
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cylon Baby View Post
 

Did people forget Agatha Christie wrote roughly a million Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple books?

 

The kids behind me at the cinema did. They genuinely thought it was a horror/slasher flick and were bored... then playing up... in the first twenty minutes.

 

I think the vast majority of people would have trouble naming any Poirot's but Express and Nile.

post #4 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by flint View Post

I think the vast majority of people would have trouble naming any Poirot's but Express and Nile.

I had a phase in my teen years where i read every Agatha Christie book that my library had to offer. Especially those novelizations of the Poirot movies bundled in various omnibusses.
362743895-omnibus-agatha-christie-moord-op-de-nijl-boek.jpg

Beside Express and Nile i only am familiar with Evil under the sun and Appointment with death as movies. Ustinov played Poirot on more occasions but i've never seen those.
post #5 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sprinky View Post


I had a phase in my teen years where i read every Agatha Christie book that my library had to offer. Especially those novelizations of the Poirot movies bundled in various omnibusses.
362743895-omnibus-agatha-christie-moord-op-de-nijl-boek.jpg

Beside Express and Nile i only am familiar with Evil under the sun and Appointment with death as movies. Ustinov played Poirot on more occasions but i've never seen those.

 

Ten Little Indians (aka And Then There Were None) but mainly because they did a prestige adaptation of it on the BBC last year.

post #6 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by jhp1608 View Post

Ten Little Indians (aka And Then There Were None) but mainly because they did a prestige adaptation of it on the BBC last year.

Ah yes..but i only read that novel but i never saw any of the film adaptations.

I also find it funny that there isn't a proper English movie adaptation of Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap that happens to be the longest running play in theatre history. You'd think that Hollywood be all over that one by now.
post #7 of 124
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sprinky View Post


Ah yes..but i only read that novel but i never saw any of the film adaptations.

I also find it funny that there isn't a proper English movie adaptation of Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap that happens to be the longest running play in theatre history. You'd think that Hollywood be all over that one by now.

 

So, the story goes... John Woolf (producer of The African Queen, Day of the Jackal), bought the rights and the terms were that it could not be filmed until six months after the London theatre run had ended. Not an unfair or uncommon stipulation back then.

 

Whoops.

 

His son tried a few years back, scripted it up and basically found the original contract still stands and they knew they'd have a legal fight and a half to try and get it filmed.

 

It's likely we're looking at death of the author + 50/70 now before that's fair game, depending on jurisdiction. That stuff always confuses me.


Edited by flint - 11/6/17 at 1:38am
post #8 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by flint View Post
 

 

So, the story goes... John Woolf (producer of The African Queen, Day of the Jackal), bought the rights and the terms were that it could not be filmed until six months after the London theatre run had ended. Not an unfair or uncommon stipulation back then.

 

Whoops.

 

His son tried a few years back, scripted it up and basically found the original contract still stands and they knew they'd have a legal fight and a half to try and get it filmed.

 

It's likely we're looking at death of the author + 50/70 now before that's fair game, depending on jurisdiction. That stuff always confuses me.

 

Literally the only thing the Mousetrap has going for it is the fact that you're not supposed to know the ending. II'm not at all surprised that the original copyright owners don't want to broadcast the solution via a globally released and marketed movie. London needs middle aged milquetoast theatre goers to spend money, dammit.

post #9 of 124
By now it's rather obvious that buying the rights to this play/novel was in hindsight useless. That play is in no imminent danger of closing so i guess they never thought of selling the rights back to the owners or to someone else or let it revert back or something?
Edited by Sprinky - 11/6/17 at 5:05am
post #10 of 124
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sprinky View Post

By now it's rather obvious that buying the rights to this play/novel was in hindsight useless. That play is no imminent danger of closing so i guess they never thought of selling the rights back to the owners or to someone else or let it revert back or something?

 

I'm assuming the theatre bought the rights outright from Christie, so you could sell it back to them, but there's probably not a massive incentive to give them up or for the theatre to reaquire them to sell them on again under different terms. If they were that interested, they'd probably just negotiate with the current holders for a share of the backend.

 

It'll be of interest for sure, but we're not going to be talking Harry Potter money here.

post #11 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by jhp1608 View Post
 

 

Ten Little Indians (aka And Then There Were None) but mainly because they did a prestige adaptation of it on the BBC last year.


Though not a Poirot novel, that Ten Little Indians adaptation was fantastic. I'd actually be impressed if Murder on the Orient Express is anywhere near as good.

post #12 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evi View Post
 


Though not a Poirot novel, that Ten Little Indians adaptation was fantastic. I'd actually be impressed if Murder on the Orient Express is anywhere near as good.

 

You're right, I misread the original post. The adaptation was indeed killer, in the way seemingly only BBC period adaptations can be.

post #13 of 124
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evi View Post
 


Though not a Poirot novel, that Ten Little Indians adaptation was fantastic. I'd actually be impressed if Murder on the Orient Express is anywhere near as good.

 

I actually preferred the Suchet version we got a few Christmas' back (with Jessica Chastain no less!). And it's nowhere close to the Finney/Lumet seventies one. Don't want to be too down on it... it's 'fine', as I said. Hard to imagine it would have come out bad with the talent involved.

post #14 of 124

How are Michelle Pfeiffer and Penelope Cruz? 

post #15 of 124
Thread Starter 

Pfeiffer has the most to do, she's very good indeed. Her turn and rage at the end is a good showpiece. She'd be the best shot for an award if this was just a little better. Cruz was pretty one-note, but I don't think she has a great deal to work with anyway. The best 'actor' moment in this story is when everyone reveals who they truly are to Poirot, and she doesn't get a chance to do that. Dafoe and Jacobi have great fun with those moments. Ridley is another one who just can't seem to master that and it's more obvious with her as she gets a fair bit of screen time.

 

Oh, I forgot to add, the final scene where Poirot is about to explain how it's done and has gathered everyone, is shot so hilariously on the nose I actually laughed out loud in the cinema. It's not even subtle. I won't ruin it. :)

post #16 of 124

Thank you for the information. :)

post #17 of 124

Heard some good things about Daisy Ridley in this. That true?

post #18 of 124
Thread Starter 

Not from me. :) She gets three big one to ones with Branagh (more than anyone else I think), but in my opinion, he's doing all the heavy lifting. I've never really rated her as an actress, at least not yet.

 

(honestly though, Star Wars and a naked corpse on Silent Witness is the only other two roles that come to mind, so that's unfair)

post #19 of 124

Going back a few posts: THE MIRROR CRACK'D from 1980 (with Angela Lansbury as Miss Marple) is worth a watch.  It's got a pretty impressive cast to it as well.

post #20 of 124

Yes, that is an excellent film!

post #21 of 124

Thinking of seeing this tonight. There's a 7:20 and a 10:10  showing. Instead of the gym, I'm going to see a movie.   This was one of my favorite Christie books.  I really miss reading her books, need to re-read a couple again.

post #22 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by jhp1608 View Post
 

 

Ten Little Indians (aka And Then There Were None) but mainly because they did a prestige adaptation of it on the BBC last year.


I read this as And Then There Were None and its my favorite Christie book.

post #23 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by smugbug View Post
 

Thinking of seeing this tonight. There's a 7:20 and a 10:10  showing. Instead of the gym, I'm going to see a movie.   This was one of my favorite Christie books.  I really miss reading her books, need to re-read a couple again.


I can't see the movie until Saturday or Sunday, so give us your appraisal if you see it.  Reviews have been mostly good, but the people who don't like it seem to REALLY not like it.

post #24 of 124

Yeah, seeing it tonight. Will let you all know.

post #25 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Belloq87 View Post
 


I can't see the movie until Saturday or Sunday, so give us your appraisal if you see it.  Reviews have been mostly good, but the people who don't like it seem to REALLY not like it.


I read a negative review where, I believe, the reviewer just didn't understand the material. I dig this kind of "stuff" and so, I'm sure it'll play right into my "likes".  However, we shall see and yes, I will be providing feedback here!

post #26 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by smugbug View Post
 


I read a negative review where, I believe, the reviewer just didn't understand the material. I dig this kind of "stuff" and so, I'm sure it'll play right into my "likes".  However, we shall see and yes, I will be providing feedback here!


"Old-fashioned" (for lack of a better phrase) just aren't everyone's taste, I guess.

post #27 of 124

A murder? On the Orient Express?!

 

First off, my history with this book: it is one I've read well more than 20 times (it's a frequent plane favorite/comfort food, along with The Hobbit and a couple of Shakespeare plays), I know it virtually backwards to forwards, so keep that in mind as you read.

 

While watching it, I definitely found myself sucked into it, even though wishing it would slow down a little more, that like its protagonist it would sit back and think. The surface is exquisite. Haris Zambarloukos is not a cinematographer whose work I was familiar with before this, but I'll certainly be keeping an eye out for him in the future. The long shot where Poirot enters the train w/ Mrs. Hubbard trailing/flirting, the marvelous high angle for the discovery of the body, the gorgeous composition over all, the way he's able to keep so many suspects lurking in the frames (the mirrored shots when Poirot announces the murder has taken place are on-the-nose but lovely) - he really nails it. Similarly, costumes and production design are superb.

 

The cast all acquits themselves well - even Gad and Depp do what the film asks them to do. Branagh's Poirot is definitely distinct from Finney and Suchet, but he still felt like Poirot IMO. Branagh's not afraid to be silly (his high-pitched giggling at his Dickens book, his insistence on perfect eggs), but still captures Poirot's intelligence and absolute disgust with anything out of place - including, of course, crime. Unfortunately, the sub-two-hour running time doesn't allow the suspects enough time to be fully fleshed out. Lucy Boynton and Manuel Garcia-Rufio, for instance, are clearly good matches for their role, but they don't really get enough screentime to sink their teeth into - same with (more egregiously) Olivia Colman and Judi Dench (the "I don't know whether to be sorry or glad" scene w/ Dragomiroff is definitely missed).

 

Pfeiffer is definitely the standout of the supporting cast, but I'd say Ridley, Dafoe, Jacobi, and Odom all managed to make good impressions. Pfeiffer, though, is the one who really gets a lot of meat to dig into, and she does it with relish. One of the few pleasures of 2017 is the movies rediscovering what a great screen presence she is, and she ably handles all the weight the film puts on her. Ridley and Odom really needed about five more minutes to sell their relationship/characters, but Ridley is appropriately charming and steely, and Odom lovestruck and determined (it's a surprise how little he gets to do, though, given how prominent both the characters who are combined into Doctor Arbuthnot are in the book). Dafoe and Jacobi are old pros, and they know how to have fun with little time (Dafoe especially).

 

So now, the script. As you can probably guess from the shortened run time, it... omits a few things. So let's delve into some spoilers.

 

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
IMO, the film's biggest problem is that it omits any reference to "Trial By Jury". But that's the underlying principle of the whole elegant solution to the mystery and, really, the rationale by which Poirot lets them all go at the end (the film comes to a slightly different reason he lets them go - more along the lines of the Suchet version). But it's not just that "they all did it," it's that *twelve* of them did it. They appointed themselves judge, jury, and executioner. Ratchett wasn't just stabbed a lot, he was stabbed twelve times. It's not murder, it's "justice". And it still is "justice" in this film, he just decides it's justice for more emotive reasons.

The other thing that bothered me was that Mrs. Hubbard said she did all the planning for it. Obviously, one can't necessarily take her at her word, but that also undermines the elegance of it - it's not just that they all stabbed him, it's that they all had their part to play in planning it and entrapping Ratchett onto the train. Both of these were probably omissions for length, but they do undermine the solution. In my opinion.

Basically, the film's biggest problem is that it's too damn short and therefore doesn't have time to breathe and develop (Poirot, for instance, makes the realization about a certain character's backstory almost immediately, rather than thinking it through and coming to the conclusion more naturally). A twenty-to-thirty-minute-longer version of this film that's a touch more faithful is probably a masterpiece. As it stands, it was an enjoyable watch. but still a bit of a missed opportunity. Would definitely love to see this type of all-star murder mystery come back. If nothing else, this shows there's definitely juice in that genre.

 

Oh, and the Death on the Nile shout-out is deeply silly, but I still chuckled.


Edited by Dent6084 - 11/9/17 at 10:20pm
post #28 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dent6084 View Post
 

Thanks for your take!  Taking your issues into account, I still have a feeling I'm going to enjoy seeing this interpretation of this tale (even as I'm a devotee of the Lumet film).

post #29 of 124

Yeah, I enjoyed myself, and I suspect I'd enjoy it more on rewatch, once I get my purist concerns out of the way. It definitely puts its own stamp on things.

post #30 of 124

I've been on the fence about this, due to the relatively lukewarm response by most of those who have seen it. Might see it tomorrow depending on how things go, but this might be bumped down to a home viewing. Still, would be keen to hear your response to it, Belloq.   

post #31 of 124

One name: Michelle Pfeiffer 

 

While Branagh/Poirot is the underlying glue keeping this movie together, it's Pfeiffer who gives the suspense a dramatic pop. She commands every scene she's in.

 

I love the 1974 film. And the delicious Richard Amsel key art for the one sheet. And I like this one very much. Nice art direction. Although, the one thing I have an issue with Branagh's direction is his usual penchant for the over dramatic camera angles and shots. Here, it kinda took me out of the story a couple of times. And some of the more action-ee scenes didn't work for me. This should be all about the sleuthing and when that happened, it was GREAT. 

 

The cast is wonderful.  Even Depp ACTED. And was good!

 

Branagh's Poirot is a little more playful and that was a very nice touch. I hope with the mention at the end of a "Death on the Nile" that that WILL happen! I would love to see this Poirot again. 

 

There were some fine shots in this movie. The tracking shot from the outside of the train, following Poirot as he walked through the cars to his room. Sweet. The ending shot of Poirot outside the train with that beautiful sunset in the distance. So nice. 

 

Entertaining. 

 

I'd definitely get this to watch again. 

post #32 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSaxon View Post
Still, would be keen to hear your response to it, Belloq.   

I'm seeing it tomorrow and will report my findings here.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by smugbug View Post
 

One name: Michelle Pfeiffer 

 

While Branagh/Poirot is the underlying glue keeping this movie together, it's Pfeiffer who gives the suspense a dramatic pop. She commands every scene she's in.

 

I love the 1974 film. And the delicious Richard Amsel key art for the one sheet. And I like this one very much. Nice art direction. Although, the one thing I have an issue with Branagh's direction is his usual penchant for the over dramatic camera angles and shots. Here, it kinda took me out of the story a couple of times. And some of the more action-ee scenes didn't work for me. This should be all about the sleuthing and when that happened, it was GREAT. 

 

The cast is wonderful.  Even Depp ACTED. And was good!

 

Branagh's Poirot is a little more playful and that was a very nice touch. I hope with the mention at the end of a "Death on the Nile" that that WILL happen! I would love to see this Poirot again. 

 

There were some fine shots in this movie. The tracking shot from the outside of the train, following Poirot as he walked through the cars to his room. Sweet. The ending shot of Poirot outside the train with that beautiful sunset in the distance. So nice. 

 

Entertaining. 

 

I'd definitely get this to watch again. 

This all sounds pretty good to me!

post #33 of 124

Excellent write-ups from Dent and Smug.  

 

I think the plan is to see this tonight.  We'll see.

post #34 of 124

Does Olivia Colman ever ask Poirot what makes him think it was "mirdir"?

 

post #35 of 124

God damn. I've apparently run out of Rep. *Writes an IOU for AtomTastic*

post #36 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSaxon View Post
 

God damn. I've apparently run out of Rep. *Writes an IOU for AtomTastic*


Took care of it for you. 

post #37 of 124

Damn...all showings around me in the 7-9pm start time range are about 95% sold out...the only seats remaining are in the front row, and I'm not doing that.

 

Change of plans: we're gonna try and see this on Sunday night.

post #38 of 124

*Writes an IOU for Smugbug*

post #39 of 124

This looks great and the acting is top-notch and it just has no life to it whatsoever, outside of the opening scene where Poirot quickly solves a completely unrelated crime in what seems like a precursor of what's to come but in hindsight probably should have been dropped to get us onto the train and into the story more quickly.  I've never read any Christie and have vague memories of the films, but I always thought their appeal was as sprightly chamber mysteries, but this is just so sluggishly paced (which is why comments about it needing to slow down and be longer kind of baffle me).  It does muster up some emotion in the end (even with the groaner of a shot mentioned above), but I wasn't really expecting this to be some somber meditation on human tragedy in the end.

 

Oh, and Branagh somehow manages not one but two pseudo-action sequences that come across as a little silly.

post #40 of 124
Well, the opening sequence needed to set up Poirot as a genius, albeit eccentric, detective. Dropping that and getting to the train sooner wouldn't have acquainted the audience with the genre or the protagonist sufficiently.

I'm drunk.
post #41 of 124

Maybe "slow down" isn't precisely the correct term, but it's coming from the perspective of someone who knows the source material and wants to see more of the suspects developed. For instance, Dench's character Princess Dragomiroff has an awful lot to do in the book and is definitely one of the standout characters in it, but she's basically a cameo here. In terms of your other point, there is a certain whimsicality to Christie's stories (particularly this one, I think) that seems to have been dropped from the more recent adaptations of this novel (though some of it is rooted in Christie's 1930s sensibilities about race -

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
in the book, M. Bouc keeps accusing the Italian chauffer (who here is replaced by Marquez) of being the killer because "the Italians stab" - and then in the end it's revealed that the Italian suggested the knife as the murder weapon, proving him right

). That spoiler above was probably a pretty wise cut, but I think they definitely should have kept

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
the bit about the "trial by jury". I wonder how Poirot's coming to the conclusions that they were all in it together being partially because "only in America could such an assemblage of persons come together"/Melting Pot as murder conspiracy would go over nowadays!

 

Agreed that the pseudoaction scenes are pretty silly.

post #42 of 124

Wasn’t half-bad, but they added this weird anti-racism subplot. Weird because


 

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

A. all the minorities in the movie do technically turn out to be violent murderers.

 

B. all the murderers get along well enough to plan a murder together, obviously, so I have to imagine something went down like “okay, then it’s agreed, we’re all going to murder Johnny Depp and do it in such a way as to fool Hercule Poirot. Now, let’s also do a little exchange where Willem Dafoe says something racist and Daisy Ridley delivers a stinging retort, just to also teach Hercule Poirot a little lesson about equality while we're at it.”

 

 

 

I guess they were trying to refute some racism in the source material, but it's like putting a scene into a James Bond movie where someone talks about how cool rape is just so Bond can say "rape is NEVER cool, no means no!" I think the best thing to do in these cases is just to update the material to 21c standards as unobtrusively as possible and go from there.

post #43 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bradito View Post

Well, the opening sequence needed to set up Poirot as a genius, albeit eccentric, detective. Dropping that and getting to the train sooner wouldn't have acquainted the audience with the genre or the protagonist sufficiently.

I'm drunk.

 

There's enough recognition of him on the train to set that up.  There's also the scene where he first meets Ridley's character and deduces where she came from and what she does for a living.

post #44 of 124

Very well.

post #45 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by avian View Post
 

Wasn’t half-bad, but they added this weird anti-racism subplot. Weird because


 

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

A. all the minorities in the movie do technically turn out to be violent murderers.

 

B. all the murderers get along well enough to plan a murder together, obviously, so I have to imagine something went down like “okay, then it’s agreed, we’re all going to murder Johnny Depp and do it in such a way as to fool Hercule Poirot. Now, let’s also do a little exchange where Willem Dafoe says something racist and Daisy Ridley delivers a stinging retort, just to also teach Hercule Poirot a little lesson about equality while we're at it.”

 

 

 

I guess they were trying to refute some racism in the source material, but it's like putting a scene into a James Bond movie where someone talks about how cool rape is just so Bond can say "rape is NEVER cool, no means no!" I think the best thing to do in these cases is just to update the material to 21c standards as unobtrusively as possible and go from there.


That sounds a little clumsy, but I guess I'll have to see how it plays.

post #46 of 124
post #47 of 124
Seeing this tonight.

Does it sell the feeling of the luxury and glamour and romance of Art Deco and train travel in the 1930s? That’s the kind of world I’d like to get lost in for a couple of hours.
post #48 of 124

Considering this does well financially, would Branagh continue with Death on the Nile as a "sequel"?

 

I'd kind of dig a new franchise of Branagh as Poirot films. 

post #49 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by User_32 View Post
 

Considering this does well financially, would Branagh continue with Death on the Nile as a "sequel"?

 

I'd kind of dig a new franchise of Branagh as Poirot films. 


I'd much rather see a Poirot tale that hasn't already been made into a feature film get the nod instead of DEATH ON THE NILE.  NILE would be an easy choice, because it's got an exotic flavor, but let's see some deeper cuts.  PERIL AT END HOUSE, THE MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR AT STYLES, THE MURDER ON THE LINKS... something we haven't already seen in star-studded form.

 

And, I mean, THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD is maybe the best thing Christie ever wrote, but I still don't think there's a way to satisfyingly translate what's on the page to the screen.  Though I'd love to see somebody like Branagh try.

post #50 of 124

I definitely want to see Branagh again as Poirot, but with a different director.  And to do any of those Christie books would require me to re-read all of those.  Oy vay. 

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