Murder on the Orient Express (2017) (Blu-ray)

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Released 21-Mar-2018

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Crime Audio Commentary-Kenneth Branagh and screenwriter Michael Green
Featurette-Agatha Christie: An Intimate Portrait (19:03)
Featurette-Letís Talk About Hercule Poirot (9:54)
Featurette-Unusual Suspects (5:08 / 5:56 / 6:49)
Featurette-The Art of Murder (16:23)
Featurette-Making Of-All Aboard: Filming Murder on the Orient Express (16:35)
Featurette-The Music of Murder (7:31)
Deleted Scenes-with optional commentary (16:40)
Theatrical Trailer-x 2
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2017
Running Time 113:55
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Kenneth Branagh
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Kenneth Branagh
Johnny Depp
Judi Dench
Michelle Pfeiffer
Derek Jacobi
Penelope Cruz
Willem Dafoe
Josh Gad
Leslie Odon Jr.
Sergei Polunin
Lucy Boynton
Tom Bateman
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Patrick Doyle


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 7.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
French dts 5.1
Spanish dts 5.1
Russian dts 5.1
German dts 5.1
Ukranian Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
French
Spanish
Danish
Dutch
Finnish
Norwegian
Russian
Swedish
Estonian
Latvian
Lithuanian
German
Italian
Ukranian
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

†††† It is 1934 and after solving a crime in Jerusalem, thereby averting a religious riot, world famous detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) journeys to Istanbul and boards the Orient Express. When the train is in the mountains of the Balkans a wealthy American businessman is murdered and, when the train is derailed by an avalanche, it is up to Poirot to uncover which of the passengers in the 1st Class Sleeping Car was the murderer. However, as Poirot quickly comes to realise, none of the passengers are quite who they seem to be and there are far too many clues, and too many suspects, for a simple solution.

†††† Murder on the Orient Express is adapted from the mystery crime novel by Agatha Christie. Readers of the book, or indeed those who have seen the 1974 film (or this 2017 version) will not easily forget the resolution of the mystery and the murderís connection to the kidnap and murder of the young daughter of a prominent couple in the USA a couple of years previously (the plot, of course, draws on the infamous Lindbergh case). However, for those who donít know what happens I will not go any further into the plot here.

†††† First, a disclaimer; I think that the 1974 version of Murder on the Orient Express with its all-star cast including Albert Finney as Poirot, which I reviewed on this site last year, is a wonderful film. Comparisons are inevitable so I make two observations before concentrating on this Branagh version of the Christie novel. The first is that this film opens by showing the crime that Poirot solves in Jerusalem, something the earlier film only mentioned in dialogue; this is well done and is an excellent introduction to Poirotís methods and character, as well as providing an expansive set piece to set against the confined spaces of the train where the majority of the rest of the film is set. The second is that Branaghís Poirot is a younger and active Poirot; however I do feel that showing him chasing a suspect across a viaduct, as he does in the film, is unnecessary and out of character: I doubt that Finneyís Poirot, or David Suchet, rightly considered as the definitive Poirot having played the detective on TV for 70 episodes between 1989 and 2013, would contemplate such physical activity.

†††† However, to return to this Branagh Murder on the Orient Express. In its own right this version looks fabulous, has lavish set design and costumes, an intelligent script, a soaring score and an all-star cast. Murder on the Orient Express was shot by cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos using Kodak 65 mm film stock which gives a stunning clarity and depth of field in both the exterior sequences in Jerusalem, Istanbul and as the train travels across the snow covered wastes and through the mountains, and the interiors within the train carriages where every detail of Jim Clayís intricate production design is there to be seen. The costumes, by Alexandra Byrne (nominated for five Oscars but winner only once, for Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)), are elegant and effective in establishing character, Poirotís suits and a stunning dress worn by Michelle Pfeiffer being standouts. Screenwriter Michael Green also deserves credit for an intelligent adaptation of the source material and some delicious dialogue. Green was responsible for two of 2017s most thoughtful screenplays in the action genre in Logan and Blade Runner 2049 and his script here does not disappoint. Finally, the sweeping score by Patrick Doyle (he was nominated for Oscars for Sense and Sensibility (1995) and Hamlet (1996)), adds its grandeur, mystery and melancholy to the visuals.

†††† The 1974 version of the film had a stellar all-star cast of magic names; this one is also impressive with Branagh joined by familiar faces, many with Oscar nominations and wins between them, including Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Michelle Pfeiffer, Derek Jacobi, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe and female star on the rise Daisy Ridley. Kenneth Branagh is, other than the reservation noted above, an excellent Poirot, fussy and fastidious, but he also brings a sense of very wry humour to the role that is refreshing. Of the others Michelle Pfeiffer is outstanding, Judi Dench has a great time and Johnny Depp is restrained, for him, which works well.

†††† We probably did not need another version of Murder on the Orient Express but, that said, this version looks stunning and is a lush, sumptuous film with an impressive cast. At the end of Murder on the Orient Express Poirot is asked to go to Egypt because there was been a murder on the Nile. The IMDb reveals that a production of Agatha Christieís Death on the Nile, with the same director / star and screenwriter, is in pre-production which is something to look forward to.

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Transfer Quality

Video

†††† Murder on the Orient Express is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

†††† This is a beautiful looking print. The use of Kodak 65 mm film stock gives a stunning clarity and depth of field in both the exterior sequences and inside the train carriages. The exteriors of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem (actually filmed in Malta), have a bright look, with yellow and blue dominating, and an open feel. That changes to a more muted grey / white palate as the train journeys through the mountains where things become more closed in and claustrophobic inside the train, where it is darker, with wood panelling, yet every detail of the production design is there to be seen. The costumes are elegant and effective. Blacks are superb, shadow detail excellent, skin tones can look a bit tanned, contrast and brightness consistent. Marks and artefacts were absent.

†††† English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available plus a wide range of European languages. Subtitles for the audio commentary in many of these European languages are also provided.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

†††† Audio is a choice of English DTS-HA MA 7.1, English descriptive audio (Dolby Digital 5.1), French, Spanish, German, Russian, Italian (DTS 5.1) and Ukrainian (Dolby Digital 5.1). There is also an English commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0).

†††† I do not have a 7.1 set-up but this film still sounds very good in 5.1. Dialogue was clear and easy to understand. Murder on the Orient Express is not an action film but in many sequences there are the ambient sounds of the train wheels and bell in the background. Individual effects, such as the gunshot, were loud. However, when required, such as the avalanche and derailing of the train, the close-ups of the locomotive engine and wheels, the crowds in Jerusalem or the bazaar and station in Istanbul, the audio is loud and booming. At other times the score by Patrick Doyle soars from all speakers. The subwoofer was used appropriately to add depth to the avalanche, the locomotive and the music.

†††† There are no lip synchronisation issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Agatha Christie: An Intimate Portrait (19:03)

†††† A mini-biography of Agatha Christie, comments about her legacy, her character and Murder of the Orient Express using black and white (plus a couple of colour) photographs, home movie footage, the recorded voice of Christie, memories of her by her grandson Mathew Prichard and comments by James Prichard (her great-grandson), authors Dr. John Curran, Sophie Hannah and Anthony Horowitz, screenwriter Michael Green, Kenneth Branagh and Johnny Depp telling how they first became aware of Christie and her books.

Letís Talk About Hercule Poirot (9:54)

†††† Clips from the film as the same people as above, plus cast member Daisy Ridley, talk about Christieís inspiration for the character of Poirot, how he was originally going to be in only one book, Poirotís character traits and methods.

Unusual Suspects (5:08 / 5:56 / 6:49)

†††† This extra is in three separate parts, each looking at some of the characters in the film plus comments by the actors who play them.

The Art of Murder (16:23)

†††† This extra utilises lots of interesting behind the scenes footage plus comments by executive producers, the screenwriter, production designer, costume designer, key textile artist, costume prop modeller, train consultant plus many of the cast. It covers selecting the screenwriter, Kenneth Branagh as director and actor, set design, constructing the train sets including a working locomotive, the Istanbul and station set, the costumes and jewellery.

All Aboard: Filming Murder on the Orient Express (16:35)

†††† A companion piece to the above, this extra is a genuine ďmaking ofĒ which utilises comments by many of the same people as above plus concept art, computer tests and on-set green screen filming. Covered is using 65 mm film stock, the viaduct set, using LED screens outside the windows to simulate the movement of the train, the moral dilemma within the plot, the climax.

The Music of Murder (7:31)

†††† Composer Patrick Doyle takes us through his history with Kenneth Branagh, his intentions and composing and recording the filmís score and themes.

Deleted Scenes with optional commentary (16:40)

†††† Thirteen deleted / extended scenes, including a very different alternative opening, with optional commentary by Kenneth Branagh and screenwriter Michael Green about why they were changed / deleted.

Audio Commentary

†††† An excellent, humorous and informative commentary by Kenneth Branagh and screenwriter Michael Green. They have a great rapport and talk (sometimes over each other) about technical aspects such as the use of 65 mm film and lenses, camera angles, lengthy Steadicam shots, the locations and the sets that were constructed, the score, costumes and production design as well as their inspirations and intentions, the cast, dialogue that was taken directly from the source novel, variations from the book and Poirotís character.

Theatrical Trailers (3:36)

†††† Two trailers.

Gallery (3:03)

†††† Thirty-six on set and behind the scenes photographs. You can chose auto advance or to manually advance them.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

†††† Except for some language and subtitle options this release of Murder on the Orient Express is the same as the US Region Free Blu-ray.

Summary

†††† Kenneth Branaghís remake of Murder on the Orient Express retains the glamorous, old fashioned feel of a classic murder mystery. An impressive cast, a witty script, luscious visuals and an opulent score ensure that this Murder on the Orient Express is first class entertainment and a worthy companion piece to the 1974 film.

†††† Shot using 65 mm Kodak filmstock, Murder on the Orient Express looks stunning on Blu-ray, the audio is impressive and the extras are genuine, rounding out an excellent Blu-ray package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, March 07, 2019
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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