Death on the Nile (2019)

Kenneth Branagh,
While on vacation on the Nile, Hercule Poirot must investigate the murder of a young heiress.
  • 6.3 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Agatha Christie, Michael Green, Writer:
  • Director:
  • Producer:

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Trailer:

6 / 10

To My Surprise, This Was Good

I wasn't anxious to see Kenneth Branagh's version of DEATH ON THE NILE. I thought his remake of MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS was a poor imitation of Sidney Lumet's masterpiece, and his mustache awful. Previews of this movie made it apparent that he had changed mustaches, by gluing one on top of another; this made him look like Eddie Izzard. When the movie started with the Belgians going over the top against the Germans during an anachronistic gas attack in World War One, I felt even worse. Did Branagh think that stretching out the movie with Poirot's back story would make something out of a collection of tics that Agatha Christie used in place of learning how to write a character? Was this supposed to add depth to the stereotypes and make of this more than another of her perfectly plotted impossible murder mysteries? Was I going to care about any of these waxwork figures?

And by the end I did. Whether this is simply a matter of having my expectations set so very low, or Branagh's understanding of Shakespearean drama and how to supervise a flawless Nilotic location shoot, I cannot tell. Some star casting was wasted, although it's nice to see French & Saunders back together again. Gal Gadot's native Sabra accent comes and goes; Letitia Wright gets to score some points, and by the end we regret every murder, victims of their own weaknesses. And despite the awkward ending, Poirot comes off as someone more than a collection of little grey cells who wants to retire and raise vegetable marrows.

7 / 10

Death on The Nile, finally sets sail, good film

The famous Karnak, the murder boat sets sail for a third time, I have really waited for this, it has a lot to live up to, Ustinov's adaptation being one of my all time favourite films.

Was it worth the wait?

For the most part, I'd say yes, plenty of positives to focus on, first off, the visuals, Oscar worthy in my opinion, this was breathtakingly beautiful, landscapes, clothes, buildings, people of course, a real feast for the eyes.

The acting was fabulous, several names to make you raise an eyebrow for one reason and another. First off, Russell Brand, I honestly thought he was excellent here, as were Sophie Okonedo, Tom Bateman and Emma Mackey.

Branagh is terrific here, a superb performance, and dare I say more accomplished than in the first film.

A few elements I didn't like quite so much, some of the characters had perhaps wandered a little too far from the original source material, I say that not as an Agatha Christie purist, I just enjoy the eccentricities from the likes of Bowers, Salome Otterborne and van Schuyler.

The film's focus was a little frustrating at times, it could have perhaps gone a little heavier on the whodunnit element, rather than the drama of the relationships.

It remains a thrill seeing Agatha Christie on the big screen, now that we've had the two big blockbusters, what's next for Branagh, will his Poirot hang up his (in)famous moustaches, or will we get Evil under the sun?

Overall, I enjoyed it, 7/10.

8 / 10

Death with a view

I am the first to tell anyone: watch the original version. Most of the times it is better anyway - but even if not, watching the original after you've seen the remake might have already spoiled things for you. Now when I say Original in this case, I am talking about the movie with Peter Ustinov as Poirot and not the version that was made for TV (which I have not watched yet).

Ustinov was a great Poirot - but Branagh really excels and relishes in this role too. He captures the essence of that weird character and seems really fond of him - making movies worth your while. And in this case a coherent one at that.

Not only do we get a visual upgrade (there are some very stunning scenes in this, which would make great postcards), but we get a theme: love. Now I have not read the novel, so I don't know what this movie leaves out - or what it depicts better or worse than the Ustinov version. What I do know is, that while both versions have the same conclusion, there are enough differences to make anyone watching be thoroughly interested to say the least.

The cast cannot be compared to the original movie (as in the original had way more heavyweights than this has), but even someone like Gal Gadot is able to convince. Although to be fair, she mostly has to look good. She does have an emotional encounter with Branagh - I am assuming she draws from personal experience and stardom/fame - the way she plays that.

There is also a bit of greater emotional attachment and grip on Poirot. As viewers we are as close to him as possible. Some of the other characters are therefor not as richly painted as in the original. But the core is stronger - and the emotional impact ... especially towards the end and if you invested yourself in Poirot ... is quite amazing to say the least.

Very well done - and it shows that Branagh takes these adaptations seriously. Which should leave you satisfied as a viewer. Unless you are hung up in the past ... which if you see this movie, might find ironic ... and even worth a pun.

5 / 10

Mediocre

First off, great cast and amazing acting, the leads had chemistry and the emotions felt authentic. However, the score and cinematography were mediocre borderline poor. It was painfully obvious that every set was green screen. The score left too many dead moments. Also, what was with that very weird Gadot as Cleopatra moment?!

6 / 10

the human side of Poirot

Greetings again from the darkness. For us Agatha Christie fans, a certain amount of trepidation exists every time a new movie or TV version of her work hits. Stress level was reduced a bit this time since director-actor Kenneth Branagh and screenwriter Michael Green are back following their collaboration on Christie's MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (2017). Although the star power this time isn't quite at the level of 'Orient', it seems Mr. Branagh has grown quite fond and confident of his own Hercule Poirot, the Belgian super-sleuth.

Director Branagh takes an unusual approach with a black and white Prologue from 1914 as a young Poirot shows flashes of his intellect as a soldier in WWI. The real purpose of this segment is to show Poirot was once a young man in love, and then a wounded soldier in love, and then a broken-hearted wounded man who would go on to become the world's greatest detective. The prologue also provides backstory on the infamous mustache that is so much a part of Poirot.

We then flash forward to a 1937 London speakeasy where a fastidious Poirot fusses over dessert while watching the formation of a shaky love triangle unfold on the dance floor as Salome Otterbourne (Sophie Okonedo, with singing vocals from Sister Rosetta Tharpe) belts out her bluesy tunes on stage. Initially it's Jacqueline de Bellefort (relative newcomer Emma Mackey) in the throes of lustful dance moves with her fiancé Simon Doyle (Armie Hammer in the last gasp of a once skyrocketing career). Things change quickly when Jacqui's former schoolmate, Linnete Ridgeway (Gal Gadot), makes her show-stopping appearance in a glittery metallic gown. Flash forward again, this time 6 weeks, and its Linnete and Simon tying the knot at the picturesque Cataract Hotel in Aswan on the River Nile. See, Linnete is an heiress to her less-than-scrupulous father's fortune, and Simon had no trouble trading up. Jacqui, on the other hand, doesn't take it so well.

Of course the fun part of Agatha Christie's murder mysteries involves getting to know the players and watching as the clues reveal themselves, and then how Poirot handles the big reveal. This film's only real weakness is the character development of everyone not named Hercule Poirot. We only skim the surface of Euphemia Buoc (Annette Bening) as Buoc's (a returning Tom Bateman) disapproving mother, Dr. Windlesham (an unusually reserved Russell Brand), Linnete's chambermaid Louise (Rose Leslie), Linette's Godmother and her "nurse" (Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French, respectively), family attorney Andrew (Ali Fazal), and Salome's niece and manager, Rosalie (Letitia Wright), the proverbial sharpest knife in the drawer.

So what do we get? Well, first and foremost, a fully formed Poirot. Branagh seems to have embraced the character and the mustache, having a blast with his scenes. We also get stunning work from cinematographer Harris Zambarloukos, as he films the beautiful people, the beautiful wardrobes, and such sites as the Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, Ramses statues of Abu Simbel, and the excellent set piece known as the Karnak luxury steamer. There are some metaphorical effects inserted that periodically startle us, and seem unnecessary, but then over-the-top moments are not unusual in film presentations of Christie's writing. She passed away in 1976, and now there are almost 200 film and TV projects associated with her work.

Love and betrayal are key elements here, and for fans of the original book and the 1978 film version, comparisons are unavoidable. Ms. Mackey's jilted lover stalker is a marked improvement over Mia Farrow's character, while Salome and Rosalie and terrific additions. Ms. Saunders and Ms. French follow in the footsteps of cinematic heavyweights Bette Davis and Maggie Smith, and your choice of Branagh or Peter Ustinov as Poirot is one left up to you. It's tough to beat 'whodunnit escapism', though it's a personal choice on which of Christie's stories serve up the best puzzle pieces on the big screen.

Opens in theaters on February 11, 2022.