Quick Movie Review: Murder On the Orient Express (2017)


There aren’t nearly enough murder mysteries made these days. They’re fun, but I get how they’re difficult to execute. In these kinds of films, you have only the facts to look at. Whereas, in real life, you can look at if someone seems like they’re lying. In a movie, everyone is lying because they’re all actors. You can’t solve it from that. So the clues are all given in what the audience–and, in this case, the detective–knows, and nothing else.

Fortunately, we’re all on the same page in this one. Often times, the filmmakers have to give the on-screen detective some bit of information that we don’t get to know, in fear that we might solve it before we’re supposed to. But here, it’s not a crap shoot because we can still figure it out if we really think about it. Yet, we still don’t–unless we already know the story.

I suppose, however, that in these instances, the film is most enjoyable for those who haven’t read the book or watched any previous adaptations. Because the best part, still, is the mystery and the conclusion, itself. If one already knows the outcome, then they are looking at other things. For me, I didn’t know the story, so with fresh eyes, I thought it was truly well-executed. Though, by others’ standards, maybe it won’t quite live up to its predecessors. Taking on a project of this nature, you can’t please everyone.

The movie starts off a little slow as our main character, detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh), is being established. We get to see him solve a case, meet with some friends, and then eventually get a telegram requesting his help solving a case in London. His friend gets him the last room left on his train, the Orient Express.

The murder on the train doesn’t occur until almost the 40 minute mark, but then it significantly picks up the pace from there without losing its identity or tone established before.

Details pile up, but the dialogue is so fluid that it’s pretty easy to follow unless you’re not a fan of movies with a lot of talking.

Where it gets the most confusing, no matter what you like, is when the dialogue relies too heavily on the characters’ names to let us know what’s going on. There are about a dozen other passengers on the train that help make up this ensemble cast–which includes Josh Gad, Johnny Depp, and Judi Dench, to name a few–and it gets hard to keep them all straight at first. But eventually we catch on.

When watching a whodunit, there is always this inherent fear that the conclusion won’t be worth the time you spend waiting for it. However, this story is one of the most famous mysteries for a reason. It’s really clever. And as someone who has had no exposure to any Poirot in his life, this film has made me a fan. Now I want to see more. This is my own benchmark.

Twizard Rating: 98


Quick Movie Review: Pride & Prejudice (2005)

pride prejudice

It’s a well-known tale from Jane Austen back in the early 19th century. In a society where the only thing anybody seems to think about is finding a good suitor for his or her children, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet are busy with five daughters to stress about. Lucky for them, one of their five, Lizzie (Keira Knightley), has a good enough grasp on her own independence to figure things out for herself.

If you can understand the British lilt accompanying the archaic repartee used throughout much of this film, then more power to you. Luckily, it doesn’t hinder my ability to comprehend the main story, but the problem lies in the lighthearted banter that picks up the mood between dramatic ambits. Some things may get lost in translation, but it gets its point across.

Matthew MacFadyen does well as the famed Mr. Darcy. When you first see him on screen, he’s so cold that you have no idea how that man is capable of love of any kind. He and Knightley’s chemistry grows as their characters’ does.

Lizzie, being from a more middle-class family, and Mr. Darcy, a wealthy personage of significance, have unspoken tensions and reservations about each other regarding financial status. And obviously, the point is that we should look past superficial attraction and at true character. However, this is derailed a bit as director Joe Wright’s order of things gives us some reason to believe that Lizzie could, in fact, be falling in love with Mr. Darcy for those exact reasons. I assure you, this is far from Austen’s original intent.

Nonetheless, this 2005 adaptation means well and is a classic piece of modern cinema. It may not be my first choice of drama to watch on any given day, but the impressive performances by the whole cast, along with the very consistent pacing make for an enjoyable watch. The beautiful scenery and set pieces are a plus, providing a pleasurable watch all the way to the end.

Twizard Rating: 96

Quick Movie Review: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012)

best exotic marigold

While not quite as memorable as some of the other geriatric-themed movies of the past, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel still manages to pass along a plethora of nice messages to the audience members that need it the most.

It individually explores the situations of several pre-octogenarians and why they have all come to stay at the same hotel in India. Whether it’s to find love, to rediscover themselves, or to find themselves for the first time, the trip is life-changing for everyone involved. The movie eventually brings it all back around to the two twenty-year-old characters who are trying to dodge their families’ mutual disapproval of their love.

The film starts off very slow and we are overcome with the anxiety of their eventual arrival to India. Although at first it’s unclear why certain characters are leaving their homes at all. And like many ensemble films, the tone gets mixed and matched a lot along the way.

At times it has a hard time balancing all of the characters’ stories–which may attribute to the long runtime–but it still manages to portray so much of their depth. Yet two of the characters’ stories remain slightly unexplored, but it may have been deliberate.

This film might fly over the heads of the younger viewers. And perhaps it’s meant to. And while The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel may surpass it’s niche at some points, it’s just as classically heartfelt as the best films of this genre.

Twizard Rating: 81