Murder on the Orient Express is a remake that once again tells the story from one of Agatha Christie's most famous novels. It's a murder mystery that follows the well known Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) as he deals with a surprising and sudden death while onboard a stuck train. The film does a solid job of introducing the character to new audiences while getting across all the fine points of the detective. It's very much a self-contained story, but one that points to hopefully further adventures of the great Poirot as Branagh really nails this take.
The narrative was rather interesting as he worked towards figuring out what exactly happened and just how one of the train guests was murdered. There's not really much tension within what's going on, but somewhat of an exciting step to it all as the story flowed and interesting twists presented themselves. I did however feel that towards the ending that things got somewhat strange or at least over dramatic. Back in the day this particular ending might have been more interesting, but now it seems almost typical and less impressive.
The film carries a very stylized cinematic style that works well for the flashy and quick pointed type of experience it aims to project. This matched Poirot quite well and worked into how the information he discovered was presented to the audience. I did however feel some pacing was slightly off in that regard and perhaps it could have tweaked some sections for more suspense. I also noticed that some of the CGI was rather off putting, not horrible though definitely lacking.
The setting was great, I liked the idea of the train since it provided an intimate scene and this made it feel like a great self-contained story. As far as being a time piece I felt they could have done more to capture the era or give a better indication of the time it takes place. The acting was solid from the stellar cast, yet I felt many weren't used to their full potential. When there are that many big names involved, you understand some get left out though they were all mostly in it for only small bursts.
Murder on the Orient Express is a solid and enjoyable film, it captures the narrative well while modernizing the presentation. Some of the CGI looked rather odd and there were some pacing issues. I also found the end to just be alright for the most part and over dramatic in presentation. That aside Branagh did a fantastic job as Poirot and I'd love to see him continue to play the character in other Agatha Christie adaptations. There was definitely a sort of special magic to what he brought onto the screen and it worked. It's easy to get a grasp of the character with the initially opening and the continued smaller points helped make him stand out. The large ensemble could have used more screen time, but I suppose they really aren't the key point here as this is all about one of Poirot's defining cases as it helps him redefine a balance of right or wrong.
Murder on the Orient Express Review at Theater with Standard Viewing