Thought there was a Murder on the Orient Express Thread, but can't find it, so.... (spoilers, maybe)

Who has seen the new one?
I’ll say right off that I didn’t like it very much. I didn’t think it held up to the 1974 version at all. It was so busy being elegant, it forgot to be suspenseful, and no, it’s not just because I know how it turns out. The first time I saw the 74 version (some time in the 1990s), I had read the book, and I was still on the edge of my seat. And I have rewatched the 74 version like, 10 times. Still good. I have no desire ever to see the new one again.

Kenneth Branagh is a terrible Hercule Poirot. Moustaches aside. Yes, the moustache is very good, but aside from that, he is terrible. And he’s an actor I generally really like.

Also, I think the set and costumers were very conscious of the effortless elegance of the first one, and everything is very forced and overdone.

The only thing that was really good was the actual murder. It is satisfying in the original, but cold and organized. Probably, it would not be like that in real life. It would be chaotic and frightening for the participants, and that’s what it felt like. It was the only really, really excellent part of the film.

There additionally, was an “action” sequence that doesn’t happen in the book, and is just there, because I guess for Hollywood these days, any murder mystery has to have one (I was told there was one in the most recent Sherlock Holmes movie-- I didn’t see it). It’s out of place, though. Poirot was not a man of action. Miss Marple was more likely to have a fist-fight with a suspect than Poirot.

So, those are my thoughts.

Anyone else seen the film?

I had seen a test screening of the film back in July, and that action scene was very much disliked by the audience as being very much out of place. I am surprised they kept it in.

How old was the average age of the test-screen group? The producers might have thought they needed it for young people. Which they don’t. I know plenty of people under 30 who love Golden Age movies, but anyway…the ending was pretty bad too, with Poirot being all confrontational, and action-hero like, instead of calmly reciting the facts for the cozy room of suspects, which is something Agatha Christie practically invented.

Albert Finney makes the 1974 version unwatchable for me, so I was excited when the first trailer for this one came out. It looked like a stellar remake.

Then the second trailer, which includes plenty of intimations of that action sequence, came out, and I lost all hope.

I will see it, because the book is so good, but I’m not expecting much.

One NPR critic disliked the movie. The best line from the review refers to Brannagh and the mustache:

Truly the movie sounds like a complete waste of time, talent and money. Brannagh presumably wanted to do this movie, it looks like it was an ego thing, and it could be the end of his career at least as a director.

I haven’t seen it (yet; I want to), but my attitude is that Agatha Christie, at this point, is basically a latter-day Shakespeare: Everyone knows how it comes out. They just want to see how you handle it.

I will see it. I liked the 74 version, but I like anything Poirot, and Christie. We will see.

It looks like a comedy. I assume it isn’t. Would it be better if it was?

I have never found Branagh to be all that good as a director or actor, so directing himself sounds like a horrible prospect.

That’s the attitude I’m going in with too. IMO nothing can hold a candle to the 1974 version, but I want give Brannagh credit for trying.


I like him as an actor; not so much as a director.

Also, FWIW, I am not generally a fan of Albert Finney, but I did like him as Poirot.

Having seen the 1974 version and the Agatha Christie’s Poirot version, which David Suchet, I recommend the Suchet version. The 1974 version went for a light-heated touch, the Suchet version is more procedural, which I understand tracks closer to the source material.

Well, I can offer you two possible explanations for that; the first is simple…

I think there’s even a fourth version-- 2001 with Alfred Molina as Poirot, and Meredith Baxter as Mrs. Hubbard. It was a TV movie. IIRC, it stank like a beached carcass. The current one is just supremely boring. The 2001 is the Plan 9 of Christie mysteries.

FWIW, Christie herself, who was still alive when the 74 version came out said it was her favorite of all adaptations of her books.

I have not seen the Suchet version. Maybe that’s what I’ll do tonight.

Come to think of it, the novel is probably the most procedural of all the Poirot novels, but it’s one where Poirot is the main character. Sometimes someone else is-- the crime unfolds through the POV of someone else, and Poirot just comes in at the end as a detective brought in to solve the crime. He’s not a character through most of the book. They read more like the stand-alone mysteries.

The problem I had with this version is the same I had with many of the later episodes of the Suchet series, the ones without Captain Hastings and Miss Lemon - the imposed religiosity laid on top of the stories in a way that was most uncomfortable to me. At the end of the Suchet version of Orient Express, Poirot changes from a detective to a nagging village priest. This stuff was never in the books and it really spoiled these later episodes for me, as good as Suchet was as Poirot.

By the way, there was also a Japanese version of this story, which ran as a 2-episode TV series. The first episode was the original story that we are familiar with, and the 2nd episode was a flashback to show how the families and friends set up the whole thing on the train. I haven’t seen it but it got good reviews.

Agreed, although I did kind of wonder during the scene why it didn’t wake Poirot. In the book, I believe there’s a plot point that Poirot was actually sedated to keep him out of the way that night.

I agree that Poirot brawling is pretty out of character, though I tried to make allowances by remembering that he was after all a veteran of the Belgian police forces so presumably he wasn’t entirely unfamiliar with the more active side of the business.

But the film was pretty much a hodgepodge of the tried-and-true and odd new directions, some of which worked and some did not IMHO.

  • The second “attack”/knife “discovery”? Ridiculously hokey and implausible. By that time they must all have known that the original cover of the “concealed assassin” was blown.

  • You are not seriously expecting me to believe that the Daisy Ridley character had been the governess of the Lucy Boynton character several years ago?? Ridley is 25 and Boynton is 23, and both of them looked about their own ages in the film.

However, many of the performances were really good. Johnny Depp and Olivia Colman particularly, among the smaller parts.

We just got home from seeing it at the cheapie matinee, if $8 per person is cheap. (Shaddup - when I was a kid, movies were 50¢ - now get off my lawn!!)

Anyway, count me as a fan of the '74 version. I honestly didn’t come to see this with any preconceptions, but there wasn’t a whole lot that I liked about it, other than the train interiors were quite impressive.

I never was a fan of Branagh - I hated what he did to Frankenstein - but since I didn’t know he was involved in this one, I wasn’t prejudiced because of that. Still, I didn’t like his Poirot. I didn’t like the “action” scene. I hated the finale. And I was pulled out of the movie every time it moved outside. It was snowing in the mountains, but you didn’t see anyone’s breath? Really???

It wasn’t the worst way to spend a couple of hours on a frozen Saturday morning, but I enjoyed the coming attractions more than this movie.

Oh yeah, and maybe I misunderstood, but what was with the clown-car exit from the cabin?

I understood as a little license with telling the story-- more what it felt like than what actually happened.

There’s really no good way to do that scene. The way it was done in the 74 version is plenty creepy when you watch it, and since you are so caught up in the film, you don’t realize how unrealistic it is, but seriously, people just queued up out in the hallway? walked in calmly one by one?

Movies were 50¢ when I was a kid as well. But matinees were 25¢. When movies went up to a dollar matinees were 50¢. Even throughout the 80s matinees were always half price. Now at our local theater movies are $10.00, but matinees are $8.50. What happened? I understand prices going up, but evening shows and matinees should have maintained the same price ratio.

RivkahChaya:. Haven’t seen it yet, but…you thought that was a good moustache???. Ay Caramba.

Didn’t Branagh direct Much Ado About Nothing? That was pretty good.