Every time there is a Hollywood remake made of a film, the question surfaces about the need for it. Of course, that does not seem to stop filmmakers from creating them. The latest remake is “Murder on the Orient Express” with a fabulous all star cast that certainly will draw audiences to it for that simple reason – and not necessarily because they are interested in Agatha Christie’s novels. I say this because some younger film fans may not be very informed about the famed author. This remake is a good step towards learning about the characters this author created decades ago, but with more established as well as a sprinkling of younger actors that appeal across age groups. It is hard for me to compare this new version to the original, but “Murder on the Orient Express” serves as a great reminder for those of us who have not followed all of adventures and cases investigated by Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (played by director Kenneth Branagh (“Thor”). I must say I do not understand (or know any inside joke) as to why this detective has to have such an elaborate moustache. It is difficult not to be distracted by it, but as the film continues from the initial scenes of Poirot measuring boiled eggs, a viewer can begin to focus more on the story that is to develop. Branagh does an excellent job of portraying this intelligent detective who notices every single detail around him.
Michael Green wrote the adapted screenplay based on the 1934 novel by Agatha Christie. (According to Wikipedia, this is the fourth adaptation of the book for film and television.) It has been so long since I have read the book or viewed the 1974 film (directed by Sidney Lumet also with an all-star cast including Ingrid Bergman and Sean Connery, to name a few). After viewing this year’s version, I certainly want to see the film that received so many Academy Award nominations. As much as I did enjoy this Branagh/Green’s version with excellent performances, unfortunately I do not believe it will rack up the same number of award nominations.
I will not be surprised to learn in the coming months that the film may receive award nominations for the Costume Design by Alexandra Byrne. The suits, dresses and all accessories of the 1930s are all extremely elegant for each of the cast members.
The script centers on the murder of a criminal Samuel Ratchett (alias Lanfranco Cassetti performed by Johnny Depp) and who among the many passengers on board is the culprit. Who has a motive and will the audience be able to solve this case?
Among the ensemble cast of different character types is a Russian princess (Judi Dench), an undercover detective (Willem Dafoe), a Spanish missionary (Penélope Cruz) and a widow on the prowl (Michelle Pfeiffer), Manuel Garcia-Fulfo (“The Magnificent Seven”) as Biniamino Marquez, plus younger actors Josh Gad, Daisy Ridley (Rey, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”) and Leslie Odom Jr. along with Derek Jacobi, Marwan Kenzari, Olivia Colman, Lucy Boynton, Sergei Polunin, Tom Bateman, Miranda Raison.
One of my favorite scenes is Poirot talking to the passengers seated outside the train in an interesting fashion, laying out the ideas about what happened on the train. Watch the film and see if you might be able to use your sleuth skills to discover what happened to Lanfranco Cassetti aboard the train.
MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 114 minutes
Camera (color, 70mm): Haris Zambarloukos. Editor: Mick Audsley. Music: Patrick Doyle.
By Liz Lopez
Source: 20th Century Fox