Why is every property a candidate for film franchise these days?
For all the strengths and weaknesses of this new adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express may have, the biggest takeaway I had was the feeling that since Sherlock Holmes didn’t spawn a new franchise of films , why not try with Hercules Poirot now?
And if we are to have a Poirot series of films, I guess Orient Express is a good starting point. It’s arguably one of Agatha Christie’s best known stories featuring the Belgian detective and his mustache (more on that later). But, it’s still a story that’s had multiple adaptions on the large and small screen.
I’ve never seen any of the previous adaptations of Murder on the Orient Express. However, I have read the original novel, so I knew the solution to the mystery before I sat down to view the new version that hit theaters last year.
Director Kenneth Branagh places a high priority on captures the look and feel of the era and the lavishness of the Orient Express. He also goes to great lengths to capture the fastidiousness of Christie’s famous detective, Hercules Poirot. (Early in the film, we see Poirot rejecting multiple sets of boiled eggs because they aren’t the same height).
Branagh features some memorable visual moments in the film. One that stands out is an overhead shot that follows Poirot and others of the Orient Express staff when they discover the body of Edward Ratchett. Branagh spends a lot of time creating the world of the Orient Express and then inhabits it with a who’s who of actors. However, the film doesn’t quite have the running time to really get us to care much about any of the characters outside of Poirot and Rachett (and even then, it’s only to give us motives for various people on the train to eliminate him).
Taking on a life of its own is Poirot’s mustache, which is so prominent that I’m surprised it didn’t get its own billing in the credits. When two biggest takeaways from the film are that this is going to be a new franchise and that the mustache overshadows everything and everyone else in the film, I’m not sure the movie can be called a roaring success.
And yet I was still entertained by it. And I’ll be back for the next installment in the hopes that they’ll eventually get to a big-screen version of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. If you know how that one plays out, it could be a lot of fun to see on the silver screen, if done right.