It’s difficult to know how to review Murder on the Orient Express. Should it be judged against the 1970s film? Should it be held against the Agatha Christie novel it adapts? In the end, I decided to judge it on its on merits as a standalone film. To that standard, the picture is well-acted with a great ensemble. Kenneth Branagh does well as the lead, but in the direction and especially the screenplay the film is choppy and almost unbearably expository in its climax. It looks absolutely fantastic, but I doubt Murder is going to inspire a Christie renaissance or have a tremendous impact on the box office. It’s not awful, but it’s not anywhere near what it should be, and that won’t be enough to attract an audience not already in love with the source material.
I think the second trailer for Kenneth Branagh’s remake of Murder on the Orient Express is a lot more promising than the first trailer was. He certainly has a tremendously talented ensemble cast (it’s weird to see Daisy Ridley and not think of her as Rey since this is her first non-Star Wars movie). The first trailer sparked some lively debate on the site, and one of the things that came out of it was the feeling that-at least in the US-Agatha Christie has fallen out of cultural mainstream. I doubt many people under 30 have read her or may even know who she is. I’m hoping the movie will be good, but it would be tremendous if it sparked new interest in Christie’s huge body of work. She’s one of the seminal authors of mystery and crime fiction in modern history, and she should be mandatory reading in schools as much as Hemingway or Faulkner. Orient Express or 12 Little Indians should certainly be hit in college lit classes at the very least. We’ll see how Branagh has done when Murder on the Orient Express pulls into theaters on November 10, 2017.
If the Fall 2017 movies poll is any indication, Hollywood is in for nearly as dark a fall as they’ve had all August. KT voters only seriously considered three fall offerings for “Most Anticipated”, and after the first two weeks: only one. Thor: Ragnarok is the most anticipated film of the fall, capitalizing on a series of amazing trailers showing Thor, Hulk, Doctor Strange, Valkyrie, and Loki battling Hela, goddess of death (Cate Blanchett). Fending off Blade Runner 2049, Justice League finished second, but those three films were the only films with any significant voter response. Murder on the Orient Express finished fourth with Goodbye Christopher Robin and mother! tying for fifth. There are a lot of interesting offerings coming in the next three months, but as far as anticipation goes at this point, it’s Blade Runner, Thor and Justice League.
September 1st marks the beginning of Emmy Month and Killing Time’s yearly “The Best Show on TV” poll. In the four years of previous winner, no show has repeated as winner, which does not bode well for last year’s champion: The Flash. Aside from the Best Film poll, this is the most important reader feedback poll of the year, so, yes, I will be incredibly annoying about reminding you to vote in it. INCREDIBLY. Look for that to go up Thursday, but for now, thank you to all who voted in this month’s poll. Thor: Ragnarok opens in theaters November 3, 2017.
With August always a dicey film dumping ground, it’s time to turn our attention to September, October and November and the fall slate of films. There are the two obvious giants in November with Thor: Ragnarok and Justice League, both of which are looking pretty good from their Comic Con trailers. There’s Denis Villenueve’s Blade Runner 2049, Kenneth Brannagh’s Murder on the Orient Express remake, the Coen Brothers Suburbicon, the adaptation of the non-fiction bestseller Thank You for Your Service, and Disney/Pixar’s actual 2017 effort in Coco. Then September has some intriguing possibilities with the Jennifer Lawrence/Javier Bardem, Darren Arnofsky-directed mother! Also bowing in September is Tom Cruise’s American Made and Dylan O’Brien and Michael Keaton in American Assassin. Which of these ten films has you the most excited? Voting will end on August 30th, because as KT readers know, the September is poll is one of the two biggest of the year: the choosing of THE BEST SHOW ON TV. So, cast your votes, and we’ll see which film is the fall’s most anticipated!