Review: ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ a hit

“Murder on the Orient Express,” directed by Kenneth Branagh, is a timeless rendition of a classic tale and an ode to skillful cinematography. The beautiful picture leaves viewers breathless while the all-star cast leaves audiences starstruck.

The film is based on the beloved murder mystery novel written by the goddess of murder mysteries herself, Agatha Christie. The story follows the life and talents of Hercule Poirot, a Belgian detective with severe OCD, an unrivaled penchant for solving crimes, and a cemented perception of right and wrong. Poirot boards this train and finds himself in the middle of a classic “whodunnit?”

(Image courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)

A man has been murdered and the passengers aboard all seem to be absolutely innocent. The famous detective spends the duration of the film stringing together information and connections that all lead to the climactic and time-honored ending.

With a story that has been rewritten and remade time and time again, it is risky to give it another attempt. Where exactly is the line between timeless and overdone? If we all know that Cinderella and the prince live happily ever after, is there really any point in a remake? Well, luckily, it is likely that many young people have yet to be introduced to the classic story or even the work of Christie at all.

I can think of no better way to lead this new generation into the promised land than with Branagh’s “Murder on the Orient Express.” Branagh has paid tribute to the iconic story by collecting a set of gifted actors who make the characters their own while still remaining true to the story. Branagh, perhaps best known by younger audiences for his roles in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” and “My Week with Marilyn,” doubles as director and actor when he puts on the iconic mustache and brings the beloved character of Poirot to life, giving a performance that is unparalled. Viewers have the pleasure of seeing, for the first time, the heart of Poirot that is lacking in older renditions.

Academy Award-winning actress Michelle Pfeiffer delivers her take on the role of Mrs. Hubbard, and viewers will not be disappointed. She is equal parts sketchy and flirtatious with plenty of personal mystery that leaves the audience in a chronic state of unease. Pfeiffer effortlessly tackles what is the most difficult and layered character with flawless delivery.

While both Branagh and Pfeiffer bring undeniable skill and experience to the silver screen, they are not the only household names to appear in this film. Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Judi Dench, Penélope Cruz, Josh Gad and Willem Dafoe are just a few of the other gifted storytellers who grace us with their performances and pay tribute to the famous tale.

Complementing the famous cast is crisp, clear, and undeniably artistic cinematography that sets the tone and draws the viewers into the film while inviting them on a grand adventure. The picture is lifelike, and yet allows for a fictional tone. The film is worth seeing for the cinematography alone.

While this film isn’t the kind of superhero or boy-saves-girl film that sells out box offices every weekend, it is instead a classic love story with a gifted cast that manages to do the original tale justice, along with breathtaking cinematography that modernizes a story that has been told time and time again.

While this film may not feature gods or intergalactic space travel or a hammer that controls the weather, it is a shockingly clever, hold-onto-your-seat suspenseful movie with a gasp-worthy twist that will have you willingly sticking your nose into unrequired reading just to quench your sudden thirst for the living water that is Agatha Christie.

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to New Mexico State University, the NMSU Department of Journalism and Media Studies, Kokopelli, or any other organization, committee, group or individual. 

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