Ricky's Film Reviews

Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases

Murder on The Orient Express

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When a murder occurs on the train he’s travelling on, celebrated detective Hercule Poirot is recruited to solve the case.

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Cast

Kenneth Branagh – Hercule Poirot

Penélope Cruz – Pilar Estravados

Willem Dafoe – Gerhard Hardman

Judi Dench -Princess Dragomiroff

Johnny Depp – Samuel Ratchett

Daisy Ridley – Mary Debenham

Derek Jacobi – Edward Henry Masterman

Michelle Pfeiffer – Caroline Hubbard

Josh Gad – Hector MacQueen

Leslie Odom – Dr. Arbuthnot

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The Dench Trench

Murder on the Orient Express is a great little film – if you’re into the whole murder-mystery (set in the Gregorian era) theme. However, if you’re not into this you might just end up piss-bored like I was. Yes, the film is heavily made up of recognised talent with not one unfamiliar name in the casting (okay, perhaps one. The black guy. Christ knows who he is) – but other than this star-studded ensemble the movie has not much else going for it other than a pretty train and a bit of snow. Harsh but true.

If it’s excitement you want – don’t bother. This feature may move at a slick pace, but otherwise it’s no different to a Sunday evening drama you’d see on BBC1. No action, no characters, set or script worthy of taking place up on the big screen. Murder on the Orient Express would probably have made a brilliant TV movie, maybe a two-parter. But I honestly can’t see the appeal of Hollywood opening its curtains to spit out Depp, Ridley, Branagh and Dench with the hopes of a potential award-winner. I just can’t see a representative from either Scott Free Productions or Kinberg Genre stepping up to the podium at an awards ceremony, holding their hands out. This movie really isn’t that momentous.

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And speaking of Dench..

I spotted the poster for this movie a while back, and when I saw Judi Dench in a lavish 1930’s costume and purple lipstick I thought I might be in for a treat. Her image was vastly different to what I’ve seen before.

She was the same old Dench.

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

The actress is easily recognisable by her husky voice – I mean it’s as though the woman has had a throat infection since 1991, and I wasn’t really won over by her performance. Dench puts on a lavish Russian accent as Princess Dragomiroff, but you can basically hear the woman’s classic grufff tones as an underlayer so it kind of takes the character out of it a bit. Yes she was acting posh, but sat there in her robes she could have been M from Skyfall with whiplash, Evelyn from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel with laryngitis, or Esmeralda from Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children after elocution lessons. It doesn’t matter how much effort she puts in, at the end of the day she is just – Judi Dench. Like Zoe Wannamaker playing a Polish aristocrat – basically herself with a humorous voice. Take Emma Thompson:  Pamela in Saving Mr Banks and compare to Cemolina in The Legend of Barney Thomson – a complete contrast in character; voice, accent, etc.

Judi Dench stars in Twentieth Century Fox's "Murder on the Orient Express."

I think I’ve made my point. Even Dench couldn’t lure me into a world of dark mystery. I needed something – anything – to enthrall me..

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Trains and Plains

Murder on the Orient Express is filmed nicely with 65mm film cameras. It boasts superb colour too, the snowy mountains providing a milky-white backdrop which is surrounded by rich, dark blue and purple sky.. great stuff. The visuals overall are this movie’s greatest asset, proving those in charge really went to town in this department. The cosy yet murky atmosphere is captured superbly and viewers would be best watching this at night / in a dark room to get the full effect.

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A lot of the movie takes place on vast plains; including train bridges towering hundreds of feet above the ground, daunting snow-covered hills which throw avalanches, and misty caves and tunnels. The setting used and the direction undertaken to bring it to life is flawless, making Murder on the Orient Express one of the more visually satisfying pictures of 2017 I have seen.

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What a shame that the only thing to appeal to me in this entire movie was the style in which it was filmed. I have to say, I was bored shitless for at least 85% of it. Yes, it’s a whodunnit type affair with some swanky characters in exquisite costume but overall it doesn’t contain much excitement – given its genre. Nothing really stands out.
And as the movie shifts from one character to the other with Poirot questioning them, it seems more like a police cell interview – televised. This ultimately winds up with various people standing or sitting about whilst the detective goes about his work. It just isn’t entertaining enough, Mary Debenham (Ridley) stood chatting to Hercule about her past. Followed by Hercule sitting at a table grilling Hector MacQueen (Gad). Followed again by Hercule strolling through an Orient Express carriage, reading out a list of possible motives and suspects as everyone sits around him watching..

Good god, what a pretentious load of shit. I try not to state the obvious as bluntly as that, but this movie really isn’t as glam as it makes itself out to be. The popularity contest making up the poster gives the impression of one of the year’s most intriguing productions; an elegant masterpiece.
It really isn’t.
Murder on the Orient Express may be teeming with ‘names’ but it makes for a dull watch. 

 

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This entry was posted on January 27, 2018 by .
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