I have always enjoyed a good murder mystery. From the first trailer I watched, I was immediately intrigued about Murder on the Orient Express. However, as I have seen the lackluster reviews come in, I have become more and more skeptical about this movie. Is this movie as exciting as the star-studded cast that it boasts of?
The opening scenes of the movie started setting up Kenneth Branagh’s character Hercule Poirot. When he first opened his mouth all I could think of was Inspector Clouseau from The Pink Panther. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate the silliness of those movies, but it took me a while to take Poirot seriously when I kept thinking about Steve Martin’s face as he made that silly Clouseau accent. There were a lot of different accents in this film that it was kind of difficult to keep track of where everyone was from.
One of my bigger complaints is the fact that there was such a great cast in this movie, and many of them were underused. Johnny Depp was especially underused, as well as Leslie Odom Jr. and a few others. I can understand that this movie only has about a 2-hour runtime and about 14 different main characters that it is really difficult to give them all sufficient dialogue and screentime. I definitely did leave kind of wishing I got a little more from all of those incredible actors.
Though there was some pretty beautiful scenery in the film, it was pretty obvious it was all just computer generated background animation. It reminded me a little of the backgrounds in The Good Dinosaur in terms of the animation, except that in an animated movie it is a good thing when the CGI backgrounds look almost real. In a live action movie, when the CGI backgrounds look almost real then it does take away from the visual aesthetics a little bit.
Let’s just start by naming off some of the huge names in the film. Kenneth Branagh, Josh Gad, Daisy Ridley, Leslie Odom Jr., Willem Dafoe, Michelle Pfeiffer, Judy Dench, Penelope Cruz, and last but certainly not least…..Johnny Depp. Six of those above names have either been nominated for or have won an Oscar. That is one of the most star-studded casts I have seen in a single movie in a long time. It really helped add a lot of personality to the film.
How about an extra round of applause for Kenneth Branagh not only was he phenomenal in the lead role as Hercule Poirot, but he also directed the movie. I have never before been a huge fan of Kenneth Branagh in the past, but after seeing this movie I think I have gained some extra respect for the man. He definitely delivered one of the best performances of his career.
Another thing that stood out to me is that Murder on the Orient Express just looks really good. The costumes, make-up, and set design all look fantastic and really added a lot to the visual appeal of the movie. I mentioned earlier how I didn’t necessarily like how all of the backgrounds outside of the train were clearly CGI, and that is true. However, everything else looked very visually appealing.
My favorite thing about this movie is that it does an excellent job of putting its audience in the shoes of Detective Poirot. From the first trailer, I knew it was going to be a “Who dun it?” type of film. Having known that, I think it compelled me to really pay close attention to all of the details and clues as if I am the one solving the case. My friend and I were in the back of the theater and we couldn’t help ourselves but to continuously point out clues and make predictions and probably annoy the other two people in the theater. That to me is the mark of a great murder mystery, that it makes every viewer feel like they are the detective. Not only did it do that, but the mystery is full of clues and twists that really keep you on your toes. I especially enjoyed the resolution of this film because it broke out of the typical stereotype of most murder mysteries. It helped tie together all the loose ends or seemingly convenient coincidences in a very satisfactory manner. There were only a couple of questions I had that were left unanswered, but I want all of you to enjoy the journey that this film takes you on, so I am not going to spoil anything.
I think this movie comes down to the preference of the audience. I definitely think this movie isn’t for everyone as it does move kind of slow and doesn’t have an abundant amount of comic relief or exciting action scenes. When it comes down to it, Murder on the Orient Express is a great old fashion murder mystery and if that is a style of movie that you typically enjoy, then I would be extremely surprised if you don’t love this film.