by Brandon Matzke
This is a weird film for me. It’s the first film I’ve seen in years that truly has me split on how I feel about it. For months, I highly anticipated it. I was beyond pumped. I went with a friend to a 4:55 showing (and arrived an hour early), had plenty of snacks (I am a major Starburst addict), and sat back, preparing to have my mind blown. As I sat through it, I became more and more conflicted about my feelings on it. I’ll get onto my thoughts and feelings later; for now, let me focus on the plot.
Based on the novel by Agatha Christie, the film follows the “world’s greatest detective” (Hercule Poirot, played excellently by Kenneth Branagh), who has to investigate a mysterious murder on his “off duty” train ride. As the case unfolds, it becomes more and more sinister.
For me, the positives and negatives kind of combine. Of course, Kenneth Branagh nails the role of the detective with the best facial hair of 2017, but at the same time he overshadows some of the other talents in the film. I mean, Johnny Depp is in here as a mob boss, which sounds awesome, but he’s only in the film for less than 10 minutes. The cinematography is excellent, but at times it feels a little too “artsy”, distracting from the performances and plot. For the first third of the film, I honestly thought I walked into a comedy. Then, it got much darker as it went on. I can see why (to represent the plot), but it felt very jarring. I sadly predicted the plot twist, but the way it was done felt very original in execution. The soundtrack was great- after the the first third of the film.
I’m split on this film. I don’t know whether I love it, or if I’m disappointed, or what I feel. I usually don’t do this, but I looked up other people’s thoughts on the film. They’re as mixed as mine are. Some absolutely love it; others downright despise it. My friend who took me to see the film loved it. Others in the audience were scratching their heads in confusion. I think I’ll have to give this film three separate ratings: for the first third, it’s a 6/10. For the second third, 10/10. And the final third is a 8/10. I do recommend it, however.
I think films like this are few and far between. This film did make me think about my opinions on it, rather than making me say “I adored it” or “I hated it” or “eh” like most films this year. I think that deserves a medal on it’s own. I think this film may be one of my picks for the most memorable films of the year, but not in the way I thought it would be.
What the critics are saying:
Rotten Tomatoes: 66%
Roger Ebert.com: 2/4
Common Sense media: ⅘ stars