Armie Hammer and Gal Gadot star in “Death on the Nile.” (Rob Youngson, 20th Century Fox)
Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes
THE KARNAK – With the holiday season past, it seems like all the movies we were excited about seeing have come and gone. There is usually a lull in the month of January and February as we gear up for the summer movie season.
January was a bit slow, but February has some potentially strong offerings and one of the first is “Death on the Nile.”
The follow-up to the 2017 “Murder on the Orient Express” is now in theaters and the real mystery is whether it is worth a trip to the theater.
The film continues the eccentric adventures of the world’s greatest detective, Hercule Poirot. But this time he is not on a train unraveling a sinister plot with a colorful cast of characters, each one a suspect. Instead, he’s now on a boat on the Nile unraveling a sinister plot with a colorful cast of characters, each one a suspect.
Much like the Agatha Christie novels, on which the films are based, this movie follows a formula very much like its predecessor, but I do not really mind. I found “Death on the Nile” to be a fun murder mystery, with enough twists and turns to make up for the moments that dragged.
Here are some reasons “Death on the Nile” solves the mystery of what you’ll do this weekend, and why it may leave you wondering if spending money on a ticket is the right decision:
Agatha Christie was a prolific, best-selling writer and her Poirot stories are some of her best. As I mentioned earlier, “Death on the Nile” follows a formula – but, just because you know Poirot will find himself in the middle of a murder case and eventually solving it with all of the suspects in the same room eagerly waiting for his solution , we still go on a ride to get there.
“Death on the Nile” hits all the classic murder mystery tropes. You’re guessing throughout the film and leaning over to whoever came with you and whispering, “I bet so-and-so did, because…” only to find out you were totally wrong. Every mystery needs some great twists and turns to throw you off the scent of the killer and “Death on the Nile” does just that.
“Death on the Nile” is chock full of talented actors. From director and star Kenneth Branagh, to Wonder Woman herself, Gal Gadot. But in addition to these two stars, you have solid and often borderline vaudevillian performances from Annette Bening, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French and Sophie Okonedo. You’ll also get a nearly unrecognizable Russell Brand in a role that does not fit his regular boorish and off-color characters.
The large cast plays well together and the chemistry is strong, especially between Branagh’s Poirot and Tom Bateman’s Bouc. A film is often only as good as its cast and while I do not think anyone will be winning any awards for their performances here, I did think the ensemble was an enjoyable one that kept me engaged.
I have a small obsession with the ’20s and’ 30s. I am happy I did not live in the era, personally, with the Great Depression and the treatment of the working class, but I love the style.
There is a class associated with it and it is on full display in “Death on the Nile.”
I am not always one to notice costume design, but I could not get enough of it in this movie. From the gorgeous ball gowns to the leisure suits, I found myself wishing we dressed like that today. Then I realized how uncomfortable I’d be all the time.
But for the movie, it transports you to another era and you feel entrenched in it. I am a sucker for strong world building in a movie and the vibe the costume and art departments achieved in “Death on the Nile” built a world I was excited to be a part of, even with all the murder.
I do not have much to complain about “Death on the Nile,” but I did feel like the first third or so dragged a little.
I was not bored at any point, but I did find myself wanting to help move that ship down the Nile a little faster, to our eventual destination of murder and intrigue. Setup is always necessary and we had a lot of characters to meet, but some early scenes including one at a dance club and an early wedding celebration took more time than needed.
It did not ruin the film, and I was still interested in what was going on, but it takes a minute for the film to gain momentum.
“Death on the Nile” is not the best murder mystery I’ve ever seen, but it was a fun one. Despite missteps and some pacing issues, I do not have a lot to complain about.
The film often feels campy and over the top, but it’s meant to, as these people live in opulence all while being impercipient to the poverty all around them.
I think “Death on the Nile” is a fun night out as we fight through some of the doldrums of the winter-movie season.
“Death on the Nile” is rated PG-13 for violence, some bloody images and sexual material.
Parents should know that while the language is nearly nonexistent and the violence not gory, the film is for an older audience. Not only the murder, but the overall themes aren’t meant for younger audiences. The PG-13 rating seems fair.
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