Category Archives: Movie Reviews

What To Watch? Cargo

Cargo is a movie we watched over a week ago, but it is still lingering in my brain. It certainly had good enough qualities to do so. It was written by Yolanda Ramke for the Adelaide Film Festival, and this version is directed by her and Ben Howling.

Cargo

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Cast

Martin Freeman is the main character of this movie, Andy. He’s himself, a father and husband this time, with the same frustrated/not-getting-it expression that we all love about him. And a beard, which is something new. The other main character, Thoomi, is played by Simone Landers. She’s a young Aboriginal girl who did a great job. Other actors are Anthony Hayes (from Rabbit-Proof Fence), Caren Pistorius, David Gulpilil (from Rabbit-Proof Fence, Ten Canoes (a very funny movie), Crocodile Dundee, and many other Australian movies), Susie Porter (as Kay, Andy’s wife), Kris McQuade (from A Country PracticeHome and AwayThe Flying Doctors, Blue Heelers), Bruce R. Carter, and Natasha Wanganeen.

Plot

The world is thrown into chaos as a virus turns people into zombies. The government has handed out kits to kill yourself/those infected, including a watch that tells you how much time you have from being bitten to turning into a flesh-eating monster.

Andy, his wife Kay, and their one-year-old daughter, Rosie, are trying to stay safe on a riverboat in the Australian bush (yes, there are rivers in the bush in Australia 😀 ). When they stumble upon an abandoned boat, they forage there for food. Kay gets bitten by a person hiding on the boat but doesn’t tell Andy. When she turns and bites Andy, he’s got forty-eight hours to find someone to take care of their daughter.

What I liked about Cargo

It is a heart-wrenching story. A father who knows he’s going to die/turn into a zombie tries to find a carer for his daughter. What’s not to love? Freeman is portraying the role very well. Personally, I’d be a bit more frustrated and impatient, but that’s just me 😀 .

I loved the incorporation of the Aboriginal culture, dealing with the threat in the most natural way. The culture of ancient tribes is disappearing faster than you can think, and it makes you realize that this may not be for the good of humankind.

What I didn’t like about Cargo

Some parts of the story are very predictable, but that’s about it. It’s still a very entertaining story with incredible performances that pluck your heartstrings.

I thought the special effects were a bit tacky (lol, almost literally!), but it did the job.

Summary

Cargo is a movie about hope, survival, and humanity (good and bad) that will make you laugh, scream, and cry. Honestly, get the tissue box ready!

What To Watch? Solo

This weekend my son wanted to watch Deadpool with his mates. We were chartered to cart him and his buddies to and fro. As we live a forty-five-minute drive away from the cinema, it was no use going back home again. So, we decided to watch a movie ourselves. We wanted to see Deadpool as well but didn’t want to spoil the boys’ fun. There wasn’t a lot of movies that my husband and I both wanted to watch, so we settled on Solo.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

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Cast

It is very hard to find an actor who can pull of being the younger version of a famous actor, especially one that has to portray Han Solo, i.e. Harrison Ford. Alden Ehrenreich was a very good choice. Although he kept reminding me of a young Leonardo DiCaprio, he does look like the ‘old’ Han Solo when you take a better look. He sure seems to have his charm (or is it DiCaprio’s charm?).

I hadn’t seen any previews of the movie and was surprised to see Woody Harrelson as Tobias Beckett, the criminal/friend of Han, and Emilia Clarke (aka Daenerys Targaryen from GoT) as Han’s girlfriend Qi’ra. It took me a few minutes to actually recognize Harrelson, but it was his typical acting that gave it away.  I didn’t recognize Clarke with the bob hairdo either. Only when she changed her hairstyle did I see her smile (with the amazingly pretty teeth). Donald Glover did a good job portraying the young Lando, Phoebe Waller-Bridge was very funny as Lando’s droid companion, and Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca.

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Plot

Qi’ra and Han live on a shipbuliding planet called Corellia and are made to steal to survive. When they get their hands on some coaxium, a powerful hyperspace fuel, they use it as their ticket to get off the planet and start a new life. Unfortunately, only Han makes it out and Qi’ra is captured.

Han enlists and becomes a pilot but is expelled for subordination and now fights in the infantry. For three years he tries to get back to Corellia to save his sweetheart Qi’ra, but things don’t go as planned.  He teams up with outlaw Beckett to steal a big score of coaxium. With the profit, he hopes to finally go back to Corellia.

What I liked about Solo

I liked seeing a new face as the main character, even though he did resemble other actors. I liked seeing Emilia Clarke making a career outside GoT. I’ve seen her in the fifth Terminator movie, Terminator Genisys, but thought that was just a one-off. Good for her to continue her career outside GoT! I liked seeing Woody Harrelson as I think he’s funny. Whatever role he has, he’s always Woody. And I like that.

What I didn’t like about Solo

I won’t lie. The movie was extremely predictable. Obviously, we already know Han ends up with Chewie as his best mate, that he hasn’t got a girlfriend, and that he flies the Millenium Falcon. I guess I expected more twists, more one-liners, more… something. I recently read that screenwriters did a bad job if you can speak the lines before the actors did. That’s what happened while I was watching this movie.

Summary

Even though the movie was incredibly predictable, it was still good entertainment, and as I grew up a Star Wars fan, I couldn’t pass this one up.

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What To Watch? Rampage

Yesterday, we decided on a whim to go to the cinema again. The only option we had, with our daughter in tow, was Rampage, a science fiction monster movie. We were not disappointed.

Rampage

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Cast

The main character, and probably the main reason why people go and watch this movie as you know it’s going to be a good one, is Dwayne Johnson. He plays primatologist David Okoye, working at San Diego wildlife preserve. During his anti-poaching unit days, he rescued albino gorilla George and raised him, teaching him sign language. Okoye happens to have a special forces background (very handy).

Naomie Harris plays his side-kick, Dr. Kate Caldwell, the scientist who knows everything that is going on. Another major player is the cowboy OGA (Other Government Agency) agent Harvey Russell, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan. The bad guy in the movie is a woman, CEO of Energyne Claire Wyden, played by Malin Åkerman.

Plot

Energyne has done some experiments in space that are too terrible to perform on earth. Unfortunately, things go amiss, and the space station blows up. Amidst the debris that falls to the earth are three samples of the experiment which change the DNA of the three animals that come into contact with them: George the gorilla, a wild wolf, and a crocodile. They grow out of control and get very aggressive. Claire sends out a signal from the top of the company’s building, luring the genetically modified animals to the city. She hopes that the animals kill Dr. Caldwell and so prevent her from spilling the beans on the terrible things Energyne has done.

What I liked about Rampage

Rampage is a good old-fashioned humoristic action movie, up there with 2012, San Andreas, and Godzilla. Having Dwayne Johnson in there is a big attraction although I was a bit disappointed he didn’t show off his pecs bounce 😀 . The humor is funny, sometimes predictable, but well spaced.

Rampage_3.jpgThe CG is spectacular. George is almost human with very life-like facial expressions. The people who have put their minds together to come up with the changes of the wolf and crocodile have been extremely creative. There was one revelation that made my jaw drop. They missed out on some opportunity for George, though.

What I didn’t like about Rampage

There were an awful lot of ‘WTF?’ moments in this movie. At one point, a whole building wall falls over while Johnson jumps out of the window (several stories high), yet there is not a scratch on him. Bullets don’t seem to hurt him either. Those are the little moments that take you out of the otherwise spectacular action scenes. But, as I already stated, the movie needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

Summary

Rampage is a fun movie that can be watched by teenaged children (there’s one graphic sexual innuendo at the end) and any lover of huge monsters. It is 107 minutes of fun, spectacular action, and awesome CG.

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What To Watch? The Blues Brothers

Yesterday evening I was browsing through the Netflix assortment for a good movie and stumbled upon The Blues Brothers. It was a movie I wanted to show my kids for a long, long time. I’m not sure for how long this movie will be available, but I suggest you watch it while it’s there!

The Blues Brothers

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This musical comedy is from 1980, nearly forty years old, and a classic. It brought back good memories of my teenage time. I was amazed at how I still could sing every song along 🙂

Cast

The cast in this movie is outstanding. Next to John Belushi as Jake ‘Joliet’ Blues and Dan Ayckroyd as Elwood Blues, there’s a whole list of music greats such as singers James Brown, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, John Lee Hooker, musicians Steve “the Colonel” Cropper, Donald “Duck” Dunn, Murphy “Murph” Dunne, Willie “Too Big” Hall, Tom “Bones” Malone, “Blue Lou” Marini, Matt “Guitar” Murphy, and “Mr. Fabulous” Alan Rubin. There are guest roles of actors Carrie Fisher, Henry Gibson, John Candy, and model Twiggy.

Plot

When Jake Blues comes out of a three-year stint in prison, he finds out that the ‘Penguin,’ i.e. the nun who runs the orphanage where Jake and Elwood grew up, owes $5000 in taxes. When they visit the church (where James Brown delivering the gospel), Jake is enlightened, and they decide to ‘put the band back together’ to raise the money to save the orphanage. Unfortunately, in the past three years, the band has been dissolved and Jake and Elwood have to convince their ex-band members to leave their current jobs to join the band again.

What I liked about The Blues Brothers

This movie is extremely funny and just rocks! It’s not a true musical where dialogue is sung. This is rather a show of great songs with some (dubious) acting around it. Most of the songs texts have some link to what is happening, but mostly it’s about the music itself. The plot is fun, slapstick like, the dialogue full of funny one-liners (see image above), and the car chases unbelievable (making it one of the most expensive comedies according to Wikipedia).

Another thing I liked about this movie is its unpretentiousness. Even though the movie was made in 1980, there is no hint of any form of discrimination (leaving out the far right extremists in this remark, of course 😀 ). Yes, there is a scene where Aretha Franklin is left by her ‘man’ (so he can join the band) after her pleading him not to go, but she is the owner of the shop; a very independent woman. There are no remarks about looks or disabilities, and people of all shapes and races sing and dance together without putting emphasis on the fact. What I’m trying to say it that I like that people are in it for their abilities, not for what they look like.

What I didn’t like about The Blues Brothers

Don’t expect to see great acting. They must have been time-deprived when filming John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd tiptoeing to the music as any five-year-old would be able to do it better 😀 . It’s a fact that John Belushi’s drug problem made filming take longer and more expensive, but this didn’t make his acting better. Their singing is also not of the best quality and is better left to the professionals 😀

Even though John Landis edited Dan Aykroyd’s script, the dialogue is still quite stinted most of the time.

Summary

The Blues Brothers is a fun movie with great music that needs to be watched at least once in your lifetime.

The Blues Brothers is available on Amazon.

What To Watch? Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

It’s the school holidays, so we’ve been going to the cinema a few times and watched a couple of movies on TV. With my daughter, I went to see Coco on Friday morning, a very entertaining and musical movie. I didn’t keep a dry eye watching that one, no matter how hard I tried. On Saturday evening, the whole family went to see Ready Player One. My daughter had read the book and told us the movie didn’t follow what happened in the book. Nevertheless, it was an entertaining movie. But, what was in the front of my memory queue was Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, a movie on Netflix. Here’s my review.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

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Cast

This epic sci-fi movie is written, directed, and co-produced by Luc Besson and is based on the French comics series of Valérian et Laureline, written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières. Although there are some great names in the supporting roles list, with Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu, and Rutger Hauer making an appearance, the main characters were played by Dane DeHaan as Valerian and Cara Delevingne as Laureline, actors I have never heard of or seen before.

Plot

The setting is a huge, ex-earth space station, called Alpha, floating in deep space where millions of creatures of a thousand planets reside.

The story is about two Alpha ‘space agents,’ Valerian and Laureline, who need to rescue a creature, the last of its species. It’s a special creature as it is able to replicate anything and is very valuable on the black market.  Of course, nothing goes as planned, and all sort of excitement and mishaps happen. A thread throughout the story is the relationship between Valerian and Laureline.

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What I liked about Valerian and the City if a Thousand Planets

This is an incredibly colorful movie, full of strange creatures, adventure, and action. Even though the movie lasts well over two hours, I only got bored one moment. Mostly there was so much to see and so much happening. I don’t know if it was my writer’s brain or not, but I want to watch it again just to see all the creatures in the background. The ideas are all wonderfully unconventional, a nice change from the usual.

The special effects are phenomenal and the choreography of the action was good to follow. The scene with Rhianna performing was perhaps a bit over the top, but very entertaining.

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What I didn’t like about Valerian and the City if a Thousand Planets

As you can see on the image with the comics illustration above, the actors don’t really look like the comics characters. I didn’t know the movie was based on the comics series before I watched it, so it didn’t bother me. What I did find annoying was that Cara Delevingne doesn’t have a lot of facial expressions and has extremely thick eyebrows and that Dane DeHaan comes over as a spoiled teenager rather than a handsome, dashing space agent. For such an expensive movie (apparently the most expensive non-American and independent film ever made), you’d think they could have gotten better actors for those roles.

As I mentioned before, toward the end there was one moment my thoughts drifted away as the story was getting a bit bland. According to my husband, I didn’t miss much.

Summary

If you like sci-fi, adventure, and strange creatures, this is the movie to watch! It’s a movie for all ages that will keep you in your seat for over two hours.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is available on Amazon.

 

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What To Watch? The 5th Wave

Last weekend we watched The 5th Wave as its post-apocalyptic premise sounded interesting, and it has Liev Schreiber in it. Here is my review of it.

The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave

Plot

Life is good until aliens appear in big ships that hang above the earth. First the aliens, called ‘the others,’ send an electromagnetic pulse that incapacitates all electrical power. This alone already sends the world into chaos. For the second wave, they destroy the world as we know it and decimate the population with earthquakes and their resulting tsunamis. The third wave is a virus that kills most of the people that are left. Only a handful of immune persons are left now. These refugees gather in a camp until the army shows up and warns them of the imminent threat of a fourth attack. They take the children first in busses to bring them to a save location. But things are not as they seem…

Characters

The main character, teenager Cassie Sullivan (played by Chloë Grace Moretz), is trying to keep her family together and save. Unfortunately her mother, who is a doctor, dies as a result of the virus early on. Her little brother Sam (played by Zachary Arthur) is taken away by one of the army busses and her father doesn’t survive what happens next.

Cassie is hellbound to get back to Sam. On her journey, she gets shot and is patched up by a stranger called Evan Walker (played by Alex Roe). He is reluctant to let her go but eventually agrees to come with her to help her get her brother back.

Cassie’s high school crush, Ben Thomas Parish (played by Nick Robinson), has also been taken away by the army busses. The army is under command of Colonel Alexander Vosch (played by Liev Schreiber). Ben doesn’t know Sam is Cassie’s brother, but he takes Sam under his protection as he is so young still.

What I liked about The 5th Wave

Even though the setting is a typical ‘aliens-conquer-the-world’ apocalyptic setting, the story is heartfelt and entertaining. The cg isn’t top-notch, but as the human relationships are the focus of this movie, I wasn’t phased by it. I liked that there wasn’t any gore in it nor any jump-of-your-seat surprise moments.

Chloë Crace Moretz plays her part very well as did Nick Robinson. I always love watching Liev Schreiber on the big screen. He normally plays the bad guy, but his face can be so cute when he smiles.

The turn of events was a nice twist (sorry, no spoiler!). The ending was an open one, leaving the possibility for a sequel.

What I didn’t like about The 5th Wave

The storyline was a bit predictable (except for that one twist I mentioned earlier). It was a shame that Alex Roe took me out of the movie. His facial expressions were not enough for me to make me root for his character.

I found the ending a bit unbelievable, but hey, it wasn’t as bad as some other movies 🙂 . Otherwise, I was quite happy watching the movie. It kept me wanting to know what happened next.

Summary

All in all, it is an entertaining movie you can watch with the whole family and have a discussion afterward about how far a human will go when manipulated to think something is the truth.

The 5th Wave is available on Amazon.

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What To Watch? The Shape of Water

This weekend we had a double whammy and went to see The Shape of Water first and The Greatest Showman straight after. Both were great movies. I actually don’t like singing in movies, so I’m not going to discuss the latter here. I do love a good romance story, so The Shape of Water it is.

The Shape of Water

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Cast and Plot

This story plays in 1962 Baltimore when racism is the norm and homosexuality is still a taboo. Elisa Esposito (played by Sally Hawkins) is a woman who lives above a movie theatre and works as a cleaning lady in a secret government laboratory. Her neighbor, Giles (played by Richard Jenkins), is a homosexual artist, trying to make a living with his drawings. Elisa is mute. She appears to have been found as a child with strange scars in her neck like someone scratched her.

When an aquatic creature (played by Doug Jones) is brought into the facility, Elisa forms a bond with it. She is delighted to have found someone like her, someone who can’t talk, and she spends her lunchtimes with the creature. The agent in charge of the creature, Colonel Richard Strickland (played by Michael Shannon), is a very cruel man and delights in torturing it. The Russian scientist studying the creature (played by Michael Stuhlbarg) notices the bond between the creature and Elisa and realizes it is an intelligent being. He tries everything in his power to make his superiors see this without spilling the beans on Elisa.

What I liked

This is a wonderfully romantic story about an outcast who becomes a hero and finds true love. Who doesn’t like a story where this happens? The fact that is was nominated so many times probably has something to do with the fact that the movie puts a spotlight on all sort of social taboos; masturbation, homosexuality, racial discrimination, and physical disabilities. The fact that it plays in 1962 only highlights that a lot still needs to change.

I like the casting of the actors. They weren’t perfect, yet beautiful. In other words, not a typical Holywood cast. Michael Shannon was a particular well-cast actor, and I think we’re going to see more of him on the big screen.

I liked that Doug Jones, who played the creature, also played Abe Sapien in Hellboy, one of my favorite movies. The creatures aren’t the same, yet their likeness was the first thing that sprung to mind when I saw the creature for the first time (before I knew Doug Jones played both roles). Loved, loved, loved the outfit!

Abe Sapien from Hellboy vs. The Creature in The Shape of Water
Abe Sapien from Hellboy vs. The Creature in The Shape of Water

What I didn’t like

Even though it is a very romantic story, I missed something. Maybe it was the short time dedicated to the build-up of the romance, I don’t know. Questioning logistics issues, explained too late, took me out of the story sometimes. And of course the WTF-moments that always seems to happen. I can accept fantasy logic, but I won’t accept things that they pretend can happen in this physical world. It just isn’t possible from a earthly-scientific point of view. You can take the girl out of science, but you can’t take the science out of the girl 🙂

Summary

All in all a bloody good movie for Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Romance, and Thriller lovers. Go and see it!

What To Watch? Fracture

This weekend, I watched four movies; Enemy Mine, Fracture, Patriot’s Day, and The Circle. Thinking back just now, only Enemy Mine sprung to mind without thinking too hard. This was probably because I had actually bought the DVD and had been looking forward to watching this classic (with Dennis Quaid) for a few days. As I want to share with you what you could watch right now, I’ve picked ‘Fracture’ to review this week.

Fracture

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This movie is from 2007, yet I had never heard of it before it was released on Netflix. The story is about a young and promising lawyer, Willy Beacham (Ryan Gosling) who, just before starting his new job in an uptown firm, takes on the ‘easy’ case of a man, Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins) who shot his wife and confessed to it. The case suddenly becomes a lot more complicated when Crawford, representing himself, accuses the investigating Lt. Rob Nunally (Billy Burke) of having had an affair with Crawford’s wife.

The Pros

No need to mention Hopkins portrays the complicated, manipulating Crawford very well. Ryan Gosling convincingly plays the cocky lawyer who thinks he can outsmart anybody. The cat and mouse game unfolds as the plot moves on. It’s very cleverly put together and keeps you on your toes. I love movies like this. This is not a typical Hollywood movie in which all the good guys survive, which is nice for a change. The music was appropriate, not taking you out of the movie at all. Makeup wasn’t anything special, but again, didn’t take you out of the story either. Special effects weren’t the gimmick of this movie as it is very much a court case flick, but the scene where the wife is shot is filmed convincingly.

The Cons

There wasn’t much I didn’t like about the movie. The twist at the end was expected  (it still is a Hollywood movie) although my knowledge of the law didn’t let me know it beforehand. Next to this, it always puts me off to see actors that have had major roles in other movies or series, like Billy Burke here, who played Bella’s father in the Twilight Saga. In his first contact with the police, Crawford says ‘Lots of vampires out there.’ It was a strange, out-of-context comment, and I wonder if it had anything to do with Burke’s previous role.

It’s a good movie to watch and I’d recommend it to anybody who loves court case movies or mind games.

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What To Watch? The End of the Fxxxing World

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to watch less TV. This doesn’t mean I won’t watch any of it over the weekend. Every Monday I’m going to recommend to you (or not) a movie or TV series. This week, it’s a British comedy series.

The End of the Fxxxing World

End-of-fucking-world-Header.jpgYes, it really is spelled this way. This is a new series on Netflix and has only eight episodes of about twenty minutes long. We binge-watched it in one evening. It is a dark comedy and not everybody will like it.

The story is told by two persons; James, a 17-year-old who thinks he’s a psychopath, and Alyssa, a rebellious classmate of James. James has been killing animals and thinks he’s now ready to kill a human. Alyssa, in the dark of James’s dark thoughts, offers to be his friend, to which James agrees. As both have a less than desirable home-situation, Alyssa convinces James to run away. They steal the car from James’s father, and things go from bad to worse.

What is likable about it? You hear the thoughts of one character at one moment, then switch to the thoughts of the other, how they see the situation. It makes for very comical dialogue. There isn’t a lot of spoken dialogue from James though, as he’s a terrible introvert. Not to worry, Alyssa tries to make up for it with her constant chatter. Her view of the world is so relatable. I liked her character a lot. I’m not sure if it’s typically British, but it isn’t the laugh-out-loud type of humor. It’s more the miscommunication between the two and the escalation of the situations they find themselves in that makes you smile.

What I didn’t like? There wasn’t much not to like. You may not like the muted colors it was filmed in. You may not like the depressive tone of the two teenagers. You may not appreciate the darkness of the whole series, showing what some teenagers have to deal with in real life. In my opinion, these all brought together set the tone of the series beautifully.

When you’ve seen it, let me know what you thought of it.

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Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

Movie Review: Murder on the Orient Express

Score: 8/10

– Warning: Spoiler Alert! –

In a spur of the moment, we decided to watch Murder on the Orient Express last night. To be honest, I’m not a fan of Kenneth Branagh as an actor (no reason, I just don’t) and didn’t want to have my image of Poirot (in the form of David Suchet) ruined by him. It appeared, however, that I was the only one in my family who knew the story of MotOE. So we had to go.

It took me a while to get used to seeing Mr. Branagh in the role of Poirot. He didn’t have a chubby tummy, nor was he short or have the peaked, black mustache David Suchet used to sport. He did have an exceptional mustache though. Only one third into the movie did I realize his mustache was actually two mustaches. Like the mustache, Mr. Branagh’s performance grew on me. He was hardly recognizable, disappearing into his role as Poirot, and he played him excellently. Poirots.jpgThe cinematography was stunning. One ‘but’ I have is the movement of the camera up and down a train carriage, and I literally mean a vertical movement. It was used at least twice. The first time we follow Poirot in thought looking out the window and this is okay. The second time we see a conversation between Poirot and one of the passengers interviewed. The movement of the camera makes no sense here and took me out of the story. Often, directors decide on a weird, unconventional camera actions… and it doesn’t work. Such a shame.

The cast was well chosen, with appearances of Penelope Cruz, William Dafoe (forever the Green Goblin in my eyes), Judi Dench (aged 82!), Johnny Depp, Derek Jacobi (aged 79!), and Michelle Pheiffer to name the most famous ones. All the actors played their role exceptionally well. MOTOEI have never read the books of Agatha Christie, so I can’t compare the movie to her story. What struck me about the plot, afterward, is that Poirot interviews all passengers and finds a reason for murder for all of them. What is not shown is that he dismisses the reason of his previous suspects when he finds a new one. Surely you would start to doubt yourself when you find so many reasons for murder in so many suspects. There is no reasoning as to why one would have committed the murder over another, only the quick epiphany at the end. Strange.

A great movie to watch to enjoy excellent performances and an early 20th-century setting.