Set in 1934, the movie begins at The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, and the first we see of Inspector Hercule Poirot is the back of his head. Moments later, in front of this very same wall comes the public trial of a rabbi, a priest, and an imam over a missing priceless relic. It’s your classic ‘Who done it’ mystery. Due to his incredible detective skills, he quickly solves the mystery and soon after, heads to Istanbul by boat. Oddly enough, none of what takes place in the first 10 minutes has any bearing on the film’s storyline. Let’s dive into the Murder on the Orient Express Blu-ray™ review.
Murder on the Orient Express Blu-ray™ Review
Once in Istanbul, Poirot runs into the Monsieur Bouc who is the Director of the Orient Express. Not even two minutes later, a gentleman from the British Consul’s office comes looking for Poirot. As quickly as it started, the detective’s holiday comes to an end when he’s informed he must head to England on a case. Now he must hitch a ride on the Orient Express.
At the train station, we’re introduced to the cast as they all board the train en route to Paris. Standing out in the cast of character is none other than Michelle Phieffer and Johnny Depp. They have an interesting once in the sleeping car.
Once all are situated, Depp’s character, an amateur art dealer/mobster named Ratchett, asks Poirot for protection. The mobster is correct in the belief that someone is out to kill him. Poirot declines the generous offer as he’s not impressed with Ratchett’s face. After all, what self-respectable individual would accept to protect a mobster?
Although the mystery is in effect, it takes 40 minutes for the murder of Ratchett to occur. It’s time for the world’s greatest detective to clock in. Alone and in pairs, all the guests in first class are interviewed by the Poirot. With some terrific storytelling and acting by much (but not all) of the cast, the mystery is solved.
For obvious reasons, I can’t get into further detail on this detective/murder mystery. It wouldn’t be fair to you readers who want to watch the film, and watch you should. What I can say is that much of what takes place has to do with the kidnapping and death of Col. Armstrong’s daughter. If you’re familiar with the novel, you’ll notice the film deviates a bit from Agatha Christie’s story. This helps keep the narrative interesting.
Available February 27th on store shelves and online everywhere comes Murder on the Orient Express on 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™, and DVD, all with a digital copy from Fox Home Entertainment. You can also order the film in standard or high definition at any of these digital stores: Apple’s iTunes Store, Google’s Play Store, Vudu, and Amazon.
Per the Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment press release: “Everyone has a past. Everyone has a secret. Everyone is a suspect. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment presents the ultimate case of whodunit when MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS arrives on Digital February 20 and on 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™, and DVD February 27.”
“Kenneth Branagh directs and leads an all-star cast, including Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penélope Cruz, Judi Dench and Leslie Odom, Jr., in this stylish, suspenseful and thrilling mystery based on the best selling novel by Agatha Christie. Everyone’s a suspect when a murder is committed on a lavish train ride, and a brilliant detective must race against time to solve the puzzle before the killer strikes again.”
“MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS is loaded with bonus material that dives into the making of the film including an eight-part documentary, eleven deleted scenes, commentary by Branagh and much more.”
Video Rating – 4.5 out of 5
Filmed in 65mm, the amount of detail in the scenes whether they be outdoors in Malta (Jerusalem in the film), in the grand sets, or within the train cabins themselves, make the environments more impressive. The scene where the Orient Express departs the train station is filmed beautifully. Once you learn that this was a large-scale set with a full-sized replica train and not an actual station blows you more away.
Although there’s a fair amount of CGI in the film, it’s not as much as you may think. And it doesn’t drown out any of the sets. It’s used only when and where it needs to be.
The use of color and contrast is used well throughout the film and adds another layer to already magnificent scenery.
Sound Rating – 4.5 out of 5
If you’re about to watch this film in 4K UltraHD™, then you’re in for a treat. That is provided you have the proper receiver and accompanying speakers. Audio is presented in English Dolby Atmos, as well as English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish DD 5.1, and French DD 5.1.
Buyers of the Blu-ray™ format can rejoice with English DTS-HD-Master Audio 7.1, English Descriptive Audio 5.1, Spanish DD 5.1, and French DD 5.1.
Get ready to hear the sounds of the Orient Express as it travels from Istanbul through Eastern Europe. I was much impressed with the soundtrack which set the viewer’s mood well throughout the film. The sound never felt overpowering the dialogue.
Extras Rating – 5 out of 5
The 4K UltraHD™ and Blu-ray™ disks come with nearly ten extra features which span nearly 75 minutes. The DVD is limited to but a handful of extras. I highly recommend you watch them all as they offer a better understanding of what it takes to make such a film.
Many of today’s youth and 20-somethings aren’t familiar with the English writer Agatha Christie. I know this firsthand. This is especially sad as she’s considered by many as the 20th Century’s greatest novelist. After watching all 19 minutes of the feature Agatha Christie: An Intimate Portrait, you’ll get a better understanding of who she was. We see and hear this through her audio recordings, as well as interviews with her family, writers, and researchers.
Let’s Talk About Hercule Poirot gets into the details on the world’s greatest detective. We hear from Kenneth Branagh and Screenwriter Michael Green on what it takes to create the Belgian Inspector. It’s worth watching.
Gallery is a collection of images taken from the numerous sets. Many are shown as the cast and crew saw them–without the special effects. Of all the features, it’s among my top three favorites.
The Art of Murder and All Aboard: Filming Murder on the Orient Express are my other two favorite features. So much is covered over 33 minutes that it’ll blow your mind in what it takes to make such a film. In The Art of Murder, we see firsthand what it takes to film in a confined space that is a train car. We’re shown the building of the massive sets, the replica train cars, locomotive, and more. We also see and hear from Costume Designer Alexandra Byrne and her team on putting together the incredible 1930s wardrobe.
All Aboard: Filming Murder on the Orient Express continues where the previous feature left off. We see and hear about the difficulties and challenges it took to film in 65mm. The crew discuss how the massive sets were made. One, in particular, was how the outdoor scenery was shot and displayed. As the train rides along the track, there’s plenty of scenery through its windows. This scenery was filmed in New Zealand, then stitched together, and then played back on over 3K LED displays to the left and right of the train cars. Rather than seeing a green screen, the actors saw actual scenery, which in turn makes their performance a bit easier. The technical aspects of making this film are most impressive.
Music of Murder is a 7-minute discussion by Composer Patrick Doyle regarding the film’s score. You get to see and hear how all the string instruments and french horns were used to set the various moods throughout the movie.
Complete List of Extras
- Agatha Christie: An Intimate Portrait
- Let’s Talk About Hercule Poirot
- Unusual Suspects (Part One, Two and Three)
- The Art of Murder
- All Aboard: Filming Murder on the Orient Express
- Music of Murder
- Director commentary by Kenneth Branagh and Michael Green
- Theatrical Trailers
- Deleted Scenes
4K Ultra HD™/Blu-ray™/DVD Technical Information
- Screen Format: Widescreen 16:9 (1.78:1)
- 4K UltraHD™ Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Descriptive Audio DD 5.1, Spanish DD 5.1, French DD 5.1
- Blu-ray™ Audio: English DTS-HD-MA 7.1, English Descriptive Audio 5.1, Spanish DD 5.1, French DD 5.1
- DVD Audio: English DD 5.1, English Descriptive Audio DD 5.1, Spanish DD 2.0 Stereo, French 2.0 Stereo
- Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
- Rating: PG-13
- Film Run Time: 104 Minutes
- Closed Captioned: Yes
Also included on all versions of the film are 13 deleted scenes which span 17 minutes. Watch them with or without the director’s commentary. Some are brief, lasting only seconds, and leave you wondering whether should they have remained in the film. Others like the Alternate Opening and Dreamscape elicit a different response. They leave you wondering why they were filmed at all.
- Alternate Opening
- Newsreel (Extended)
- Hotel Check-In
- Arasta Bazaar (Extended)
- Train Montage
- Poirot Bedtime Rituals (with two alternates)
- Pierre Michel Interview
• Daisy Ridley as Mary Debenham
• Leslie Odom Jr as Dr. Arbuthnot
• Tom Bateman as Director Bouc
• Josh Gad as Hector MacQueen
• Derek Jacobi as Edward Henry Masterman
• Johnny Depp as Edward Ratchett
• Lucy Boynton as Countess Elena Andrenyi
• Marwan Kenzari as Pierre Michel
• Michelle Pheiffer as Caroline Hubbard
• Judi Dench as Princess Dragomiroff
• Olivia Coleman as Hildegarde Schmidt
• Willem Dafoe as Gerhard Hardman
After having grossed $350M worldwide, it is rumored, and probably correctly so, that Kenneth Branagh will reprise his role of Hercule Poirot in Death on the Nile. It should be out in the fall of 2019. I look so forward to seeing that mustache again.
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