Murder on the Orient Express feels empty and unclear

The adaptation of the 1974 version did not set the mood as well 

While I am not the best at solving mysteries in a film like “Murder on the Orient Express”, the plot felt empty and confusing, much like when I went to see “The Snowman” about a month ago.

All I can really say about “Murder on the Orient Express” is that the characters are hilarious in each of their own personal traits. They help keep you wanting to watch even though the rest of the film feels dry and bores you after the first half hour.

Johnny Depp makes an appearance as an art dealer, Samuel Ratchett, but the character is almost instantly murdered in his bunk. In my own opinion, Depp has disappointed me lately which pains me to say as someone who is a fan of his. Even though I enjoy most of all the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, he is not too innovative outside his acting style in the character of Captain Jack Sparrow which doesn’t help add to the success for “Murder on the Orient Express” any.

After the art dealer is killed off, Detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) investigates the riders on the train about not only Ratchett’s murder but the Armstrong baby as well. The connection between both came across as unclear then, too. I stumbled across the older version (1974) at the MSU campus library and watched that a couple times to get a better understanding of this newest release.

In contrast, the film done in 1974 set the mood much better than the latest “Murder on the Orient Express”. The earlier one panned across family photos and newspaper clippings about the Armstrong baby which evoked more of the importance of the mystery surrounding the story. But in the 2017 release, the plot meanders and sometimes even the lively characters seem stoic like they are ghosts themselves.

Mary Debenham is the only one who brings the characters out of their shells more. There is one cool shot where the director pans from the ground up and then pans down again to focus on Detective Poirot and Debenham during his interrogation of her. Her behaviors and nonverbal cues do lead him closer to the answers he seeks.

From there, it feels like the revelation of all the pieces come together too easily for Poirot and it does not take long for the characters to come forward with their own confessions. After that, the rest of “Murder on the Orient Express” drags and you look forward to the ending to the point where you think about just walking out.

This is a case I haven’t read the book which I was also ignorant of its existence, but I want to know for the sake of understanding and appreciating the classic more. It’ll likely be one of the reads I tackle over winter break.

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