Thursday, November 23, 2017     Volume: 18, Issue: 38
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Santa Maria Sun / Film

This weeks review
COCO
DADDY’S HOME
HEARST CASTLE: BUILDING THE DREAM
JUSTICE LEAGUE
MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS
THE STAR
WONDER

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

PHOTO BY 20TH CENTURY FOX

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS


Where is it playing?: Parks Plaza

What's it rated?: PG-13

What's it worth?: $ Rental

User Rating: 0.00 (0 Votes)

Kenneth Branagh (Dead Again, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Thor, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit) directs himself as famed Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, who on a lavish train trip with 13 strangers must solve a murder that could only have been committed by one of his fellow travelers.

Written by Michael Green (Logan, Alien: Covenant, Blade Runner 2049) and based on the classic mystery novel by Agatha Christie, the film also features Daisy Ridley as Miss Mary Debenham, Leslie Odom Jr. as Dr. Arbuthnot, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as Biniamino Marquez, Penélope Cruz as Pilar Estravados, Josh Gad as Hector MacQueen, Johnny Depp as Edward Ratchett, Derek Jacobi as Edward Henry Masterman, Sergei Polunin as Count Rudolph Andrenyi, Lucy Boynton as Countess Elena Andrenyi, Marwan Kenzari as Pierre Michel, Michelle Pfeiffer as Caroline Hubbard, Judi Dench as Princess Dragomiroff, Olivia Colman as Hildegarde Schmidt, and Willem Dafoe as Gerhard Hardman.

If right about now you’re thinking, “Wow, that’s a lot of characters to keep track of,” you’re correct. In a novel, a cast of this size is certainly doable, but in a two-hour film, it can be tough to keep track of who’s who and what their relationships are. Worse still, one of the great joys of watching a murder mystery is playing armchair detective and trying to figure out whodunit. Well, good luck. Between the size of the cast and the lack of clues, it’s hard to guess and even harder to care.

Of course, it’s a beautiful looking film that opens in Jerusalem before moving on to Istanbul, and the train itself is a work of art. The costumes, the details, the steam engine moving through snow-covered mountains—all quite lovely.

Likewise, the acting is generally excellent. For his part, Branagh plays Poirot with relish. He’s a man obsessed with symmetry, and that very obsessive-compulsiveness and his attention to the smallest details generates his detection skills. It’s fun to see his blunt and judgmental behavior as he interacts with those he finds beneath him. Other standouts include Defoe as the Austrian scholar (or is he?), Cruz as the pious Spanish missionary, and Dench as the pretentious princess. As for Depp, he’s sort of phoning in his John Dillinger impression.

If you’re familiar with the story, that may work in your favor. If not, the grand reveal may seem like a cop-out, and it certainly will frustrate the armchair detectives who think they’re solving the case. If you like period mystery dramas, this latest iteration of this oft-told tale isn’t terrible, but I didn’t need to see it in the theater. (114 min.)

—Glen Starkey




Weekly Poll
What do you like most about the holiday season?

Spending time with family and friends.
The food, and eating too much of it.
Gift giving and receiving.
The days off from work.

| Poll Results