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Murder on the Orient Express: Reboot Done Right

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There is nothing new under the sun. No one takes this old saying more seriously than Hollywood. Hollywood has been happily churning out reboots for years, seemingly without regard for whether anyone wants them or not.

Consider the plethora of Spiderman movies released in recent years. We won’t even discuss the Batman movies, one of which we know George Clooney would like to forget.

Now we find “Murder on the Orient Express” in theatres, a movie that falls into both categories – reboot and book-made-movie.

In the 1930’s, first class train passengers experience an unexpected drama during their travel when they wake one morning to find that someone has been murdered. Because a blizzard has covered the tracks in the snow, the train is stopped in the mountains.

The murderer is trapped on the train. Famous detective, Hercule Poirot, is traveling on the Orient Express, and he must solve the murder before the train reaches the next station and the murderer can escape.

Penned by the famous novelist, Agatha Christie, “Murder on the Orient Express” hit bookshelves in 1934. The 1930’s language is a bit challenging for modern readers, with French and Latin phrases – common knowledge at the time of publication – sprinkled throughout the book.

While suspenseful, the novel gives the impression that it would be more exciting seen rather than read, so whoever first read “Murder on the Orient Express” and thought it would make a great movie was correct.

In 1974, a movie was released. The movie followed the novel like any good book adaptation should, but otherwise, it was nothing to write home about. Most noticeably, Detective Poirot (Albert Finney) shouted his lines through the whole movie, which was distracting and off-putting.

Finally, we reach present day, with a new version of “Murder on the Orient Express” featuring an all-star cast full of Hollywood stars and starlets, like Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Michelle Pfeiffer and Penelope Cruz, among many others. None of those stars shone nearly as brightly as Kenneth Brannagh, though, who played Hercule Poirot.

Brannagh, who also directed the film, turned Poirot into an interesting, if not exactly, likable character. Whether it is the fabulous mustache, or the moment he stepped both shoes in camel poop so they would be balanced, the audience was invested in Poirot. He was blunt, exasperating, and not always very nice, but you desperately wanted him to solve the mystery murder.
Kenneth Brannagh, who also directed the film, turned Poirot into an interesting, if not exactly, likable character.

The movie followed the book closely, but sparingly added the Hollywood excitement to increase suspense and drama without entirely changing the original story.

These additions mean, even if you read the novel and watched the previous version of the movie, you will still be captivated and surprised at the end, an impressive feat in the film industry these days.

The cinematography added to the overall brilliance of the film, with gorgeous shots of the Orient Express traveling through snow-capped mountains.

With the exception of Brannagh in his leading role, no one actor outshone the rest, and yet every character was fully realized with a history and personality. Every audience member could relate to at least one character, with their jobs, quirks, and issues.

Everything about “Murder on the Orient Express” is fabulous. It is exactly as good as advertised and cannot be recommended enough. We may complain about Hollywood reboots in general, but “Murder on the Orient Express” stands apart from its previous versions, and it will be remembered as a great film on its own merit and excellence.

By: Kateri Swavely-Verenna

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