“My Name Is Hercule Poirot And I am Probably The Greatest Detective In The World…”
Helmed by the steady of hand of theatre and screen aficionado, Kenneth Branagh, the latest adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express comes eighty three years after the source material was first published and forty three years after the first cinematic venture of such a story, one directed by Sidney Lumet and featured an extensively impressive cast which included the likes of Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman and the post-Bond presence of Sean Connery. Returning to the big screen once again with a similarly majestic group of actors, Branagh’s take on arguably Christie’s most iconic story is one which cranks up the absurdity in a manner which takes on board Darren Aronofsky’s adaptation of Noah, whilst being a film which too enjoys basking in the nostalgia factor of its’ early twentieth century setting, and whilst there is undeniable charm and enjoyment at the heart of Branagh’s project, the real lack of freshness and a wavering narrative hook results in the latest Murder on the Orient Express being just good enough to warrant another punt at the famous source material.
Whilst it seems everyone and their dog is aware of the story at the heart of Christie’s novel, Branagh’s movie utilises Blade Runner 2049 and Logan screenwriter Michael Green’s script to introduce a few minor character differences and narrative swings, of which some directly link back to the Sidney Lumet version of the story and some which are wholly original, with my personal favourite being a karate loving Count Andrenyi who is introduced with a simply baffling scene of him roundhousing a fellow passenger before boarding the titular medium of travel. With the added use of CGI to enhance the titular locomotive’s unplanned halt on the snow-filled tracks and some effectively crafted flashback scenes which both improve on the Lumet version and make things simple for even the most wavering audience mind, Branagh’s first attempt at a big-screen Christie tale passes the time rather harmfully, with the director’s portrayal of Belgium’s most famous export being a charming and suave interpretation, and with an concluding act which sets out a possible future franchise, Murder on the Orient Express is best served with a bourbon biscuit and a nice cup of Earl Grey. Put the kettle on love.
Overall Score: 6/10
“You Don’t Have To Make Us Feel Safe, Because You’ve Made Us Feel Brave…”
Tim Burton is back with his latest project, Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, based on the novel of the same name by author Ransom Riggs, and whilst Mr. Burton hasn’t exactly hit the high notes of what he can accomplish in recent years, a mediocre Burton film is at least better than most things released in the calendar year of film. With Miss Peregrine’s, the typical tropes and traits of what makes Burton’s films his own are unashamedly there to see from the offset and whilst we are treated to a two hour plus marathon of sub-gothic horror, all with a teenage friendly 12A rating, which includes invisible monsters, Alice In Wonderland type parallel time zones and the removal of a hell lot of eyes, Burton’s latest is an undeniable snooze-fest, one that has the baseline of a good idea but one that is orchestrated in a tedious and rather unconvincing fashion, concluding with a final act which can only be regarded as the physical definition of anticlimax.
As we follow Jacob (Asa Butterfield) into the titular home, ruled over by the strict, yet caring, Miss Peregrine, portrayed in an overtly scene-chewingly fashion by Eva Green, the film begins in a compelling air of mystery, particularly when we are introduced to the notion of the Hollows, their origins and the plans of the evil Dr. Barron (Samuel L. Jackson). Unfortunately for the film, as soon as we are swayed away from the charming introductions to the residents of the titular home and into the bigger picture involving the Jack Skellington-esque Hollows, the film totally collapses under the weight of attempting to get as much plot in its’ two-hour runtime, resulting in a messy narrative which doesn’t allow the concluding act to have the impact and sense of closure it of course is meant to have. Although the film boasts some good performance from the likes of its’ younger cast, with Ella Purnell arguably being the standout, Miss Peregrine’s is a poor attempt for Burton to get back on form and therefore can only be regarded as a undeniable let down.