Here’s What Critics Are Saying About the ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ Adaptation

Posted on November 9, 2017 by

The new film adaptation of Agatha Christie’s classic whodunit, Murder on the Orient Express, rolls into theaters on November 10, and critics have a lot to say about this star-studded remake. We’ve rounded up a list of Murder on the Orient Express reviews so Christie fans know what to expect before seeing the film. Check out what critics are saying below!

 

The Good

The Hollywood Reporter: “[D]irector-star Kenneth Branagh has delivered a version of Agatha Christie’s 1934 murder-on-a-train mystery gem that may not be as starry but is snappier than the highly successful 1974 outing.”

The Guardian: “Kenneth Branagh’s film adaptation of Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel is a juicy fruitcake of a film (or, perhaps more accurately, a Belgian iced bun: a nostalgic pleasure, goes down easy, irresistible on a Sunday afternoon).”

Toronto Sun: “Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express is an engaging bit of cinematic nostalgia. The film (shot on 65mm) is a lavish undertaking full of movie stars, attractive period detail, breathtaking scenery and high drama; it’s a shiny bauble, and exactly the kind of not-very-exacting entertainment you want for the holidays.”

Johnny Depp in Murder on the Orient Express

Deadline: “Right from the start you know you are in good hands as Branagh, with prime help from cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos and production designer Jim Clay, sets up a couple of dazzling continuous tracking shots in which we are introduced to this magnificent train as well as the passengers — all of whom soon will be suspects. The camera work and layout of these scenes is brilliant, and Branagh clearly is having a ball walking through it all as Poirot, a man who soon will be on a mission to find out just which of this group knocked off one of them as they were en route to Europe — and why.”

Entertainment Weekly: “Murder, she wrote, and Hollywood loved her for it. Or they used to, at least — plundering Agatha Christie’s vast catalog of posh, stabby whodunits for countless screen adaptations. But it’s taken actor-director Kenneth Branagh to sweep her from the dustier corners of PBS to center stage again in his Murder on the Orient Express, a lushly old-fashioned adaptation wrapped in a veritable turducken of pearls, monocles, and international movie stars.”

TimeOut London: “Glamorous passengers are stuck on a train while a murderer is on the loose — it’s a jolly good job the detective Hercule Poirot (director Kenneth Branagh) is among them. As they board the train in their finery, it’s pleasantly easy to get distracted by the casting in Branagh’s Agatha Christie adaptation, which is just as glittering as its 1974 predecessor, also set in 1930s Europe.”

LA Weekly: “Despite the bright cinematography, there’s something quaint and comforting about this film and its brand of old-fashioned storytelling, where coincidences are extremely likely, everyone somehow knows a countess and a man puts honor above all else.”

Forbes: “Kenneth Branagh has crafted a polished, gorgeous, and mostly diverting bit of studio filmmaking. It is handsomely staged, impeccably acted, and generally engrossing.”

Daily Express: “Murder on the Orient Express contains one of Christie’s cleverest plots, and Branagh transforms it into lavish, razzle-dazzle escapism. There is luxury in everything from the costumes to the wonderfully fluid camerawork. And of the first-class ensemble cast, Pfeiffer stands out with an alluring mixture of charm and steel as Mrs. Hubbard.”

The Seattle Times: “[A] cheerily uneven but enjoyable adaptation of Agatha Christie’s blockbuster novel.”

ABC News: “Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express is a visual feast, bursting with movie stars, glamour and production value so high, you might just exit the theater experiencing some time-warp whiplash.”

The Washington Post: “Murder may lack urgency, but it does have style. The sets, the costumes, and the vistas are stunning.”

 

The Not-So-Good

The New York Times: “In this latest version, Kenneth Branagh… gives us a Poirot who’s fussy but not too fussy, and rather crisp in his English-language diction. Most radically, this is a Poirot with heart. This interpretation is a dumb idea, but Mr. Branagh, an actor of prodigious skills, can at least pull this one half off. It’s not the only dumb idea in this film, which nevertheless bounces along in a way that’s sometimes almost entertaining.”

Variety: “For those who know the outcome of Murder going in, the question isn’t so much whodunit as how Branagh will keep audiences guessing, and though he succeeds in creating the most memorable incarnation of Poirot ever seen on-screen (upstaging even Johnny Depp’s competing cameo), the movie is a failure overall, juggling too many characters to keep straight, and botching the last act so badly that those who go in blind may well walk out not having understood its infamous twist ending.”

Kenneth Branagh in Murder on the Orient Express

London Evening Standard: “The score overpowers the dialogue with the sort of mawkish piano-and-strings dirge suited to the dreadful prognosis scene of a made-for-TV tearjerker. Favoring fake gravitas over wit (not a laugh in two hours), the dialogue deserves it.”‘

AV Club: “The cast is fine; Dafoe and Pfeiffer seem to be having the most fun with their broadly drawn roles, and even Branagh’s melodramatic Poirot has his charms. But considering that there’s already a fun film adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express… the new film doesn’t offer enough to justify its existence.”

Vanity Fair: “Murder on the Orient Express isn’t a bore, exactly. It’s just not what it might have been had simplicity won the day instead of big intentions. I hope the film does well, because it would be nice to have a little whodunit renaissance.”

The Telegraph: “Yet despite its credentials — and its impeccable styling — this Orient Express never gets up a head of steam. Its cast feel fenced in, somehow, like travelers used to the legroom of the premium coach consigned to cattle class. Since the plot has 12 suspects to juggle, that’s partly a matter of logistics.”

Rolling Stone: “Murder on the Orient Express offers audiences a deluxe journey to the past, but this pokey train goes off the rails about the time all the characters, except for Poirot, cease to matter.”

IndieWire: “Murder on the Orient Express is a creaky whodunnit in this day and age, and there’s not much that Branagh can (or chooses) to do about that without disrespecting the source material.”

Chicago Sun-Times: “Branagh is a world-class actor and a fine director, and he scores stylistic points on both counts here, but this Orient Express loses steam just when it should be gaining speed and racing to its putatively shocking conclusion.”

 

 

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