Friday, November 24, 2017

Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

A few months ago, my mother found out about a program called Moviepass.  It allows you to watch movies, in a theater, for $9.95 per month.  It’s somewhat complicated and the details really aren’t important right now.  What’s important was that my parents and I all signed up last week.  Our first movie?  Murder on the Orient Express.  We needed something that we’d all agree on, which basically meant this or The Man Who Invented Christmas.

The movie is based on the Agatha Christie novel, as you might expect.  It starts with Hercule Poirot in Jerusalem solving a crime by proving it wasn’t any of the three main suspects.  He ends up on the Orient Express through a friend that works on the train.  It isn’t long before the train finds itself snowed in…and with a murder victim.

You’d think it would be easy.  The train is trapped between towns, making escape difficult.  It should just be a matter of figuring out who’s connected to the victim.  Well, it turns out that most of the other passengers had some connection to him.  You see, Edward Ratchett kidnapped a child who subsequently died.  If a suspect didn’t know the child, they at least knew someone who knew the child or the family.  What we get is a moderate procedural.  Poirot asks questions of the suspects and gathers clues.  At the end of the movie, he’s able to gather everyone together and work out the solution.

Having the movie on a train does make for cramped quarters.  Everyone has a room and a narrow hallway to pass each other.  This makes for the use of a few overhead shots.  There were also a few times where I noticed the use of a wide-angle lens.  (It tended to be evident as much with motion as it did with people sitting on the edge of the frame.)

The pacing seemed a little slow to me.  It’s not to say that it dragged at all, but there were times that I was wondering when the next bit of action was coming.  I don’t know that anything could have been cut.  It just seemed drawn out.  I think this has more to do with what I’m used to than anything else.  The accents tended to be more of a problem for me.  There were one or two scenes where subtitles might have helped, but it didn’t really stop me from following the movie.

I think this is one of those movies that most people will be able to judge for themselves whether or not they’ll like it.  Agatha Christie is well known, as are many of the actors.  There didn’t seem to be many surprises.  From what I’ve read, the movie follows the novel pretty closely with one or two exceptions.  I would say that if you do go to see the movie, it’s probably going to be either because you like Christie or you’re going to see it with a group, like I did.  Not being someone who’s read her work, I’d say that it’s middle of the road.  It’s enjoyable, but had it not been for Moviepass, I probably would have waited for this movie to become available on Netflix.

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