Disney+ in May 2022 paid questionable tributes to a classic series of murder mysteries with two modern movies.
Murder on the Orient Express (2022) [6/10]
Death on the Nile (2017) [4/10]
Murder on the Orient Express is a perfect example of why remakes can be a safe winner if they stick to the original, at least for most of the time. It’s also a perfect example of why some slow-paced movies might better have been left in the past for good.
Kenneth Branagh has always been an eccentric actor with his Shakespeare adaptations or even Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in which he played the lead roles. So it’s no surprise to have him try to imitate Peter Ustinov as the world’s (or Belgian’s) best detective Poirot. It soon becomes clear that it’s more like a one-man-show, making all the other great actors and actresses get out of his spotlight. So in the end, it’s a matter of taste: There’s nothing much surprising, including the ending, for those who have already watched the original movie. Those who can stand Branagh will have an entertaining time of a classic that is a bit dusty, though.
Death on the Nile is a very bad example of modernizing a classic, as its constant use of CGI makes one wonder if one isn’t sitting in a movie studio. With so many scenes having shots from outside, it’s quite uncanny seeing people move around with the ever-present knowledge that they’re only standing in front of blue or green screens.
However, that’s not the worst part about the movie, as there’s way too much jazz music that doesn’t fit the atmosphere and only feels as if it’s used to make it more inclusive. It doesn’t work, because it’s forced, adding even more empty runtime to a long movie. Some over-sexualized scenes are also completely out of place in a classic murder mystery. Of course the original concept is still there, but the modern touches make one wish to return to the good old times when things felt more real and less aimed to all sorts of audiences. The original movie was a bit too dialogue-heavy, but now the various character monologues are even longer, making it a tedious and boring “adventure”.
I’m always open to remakes and I’ve tried to give various “classics” a chance, but these two murder mysteries didn’t do much for me. While I appreciated Peter Ustinov’s portrayal of Poirot and enjoyed the original Murder on the Orient Express and Murder on the Nile, the remakes with Branagh did very little for me, except putting me to sleep and again affirmed my dislike for him as a narcissistic actor.