* * (out of five)
Agatha Christie adaptations are back in vogue. The recent television versions of And Then There Were None and Witness For The Prosecution were exciting and fresh, keeping the stories appropriately in period while engaging modern camera work, a lived-in aesthetic, and actors playing the high-falutin’ dialogue straight. Unfortunately director Kenneth Branagh goes the opposite direction with Murder On The Orient Express, producing an overblown, over designed, over acted snoozefest that manages to somehow be more old-fashioned than the 1974 version.
At least Branagh’s Hercule Poirot is fun and multi-layered, especially in the film’s somewhat buoyant opening scenes, but the rest of the – ALL STAR! – cast are hung out to dry, hammily looking off into the middle distance to imply that they might have done it. When things turn dark, Branagh the director goes overboard with gravitas, squandering what trust he may have earlier earned. The result is dull as dishwater.