Murder On The Orient Express exercises the brain, feels laborious.

THV11 movie critic Jonathan Nettles tells us about some movies in theaters this weekend

A stylish train ride through Europe turns into a thrilling mystery in Murder on the Orient Express. Based on the novel by Agatha Christie, it’s the tale of 13 passengers who become suspects in a murder on a stranded train. Each of them has their own story of what happened that night and their secrets, none of them appear to have a motive. It’s up to the 14th passenger on the train, Hercule Poirot, who happens to be the world’s greatest detective, to solve the mystery.

Loading ...

Let’s get what I didn’t like about Murder on the Orient Express out of the way first. It was such a thick mystery that I had trouble keeping up with who knew what and whom. Personally, when I watch, or read, a mystery. I like to see a little movement towards a suspect. Every single direction that Hercule took in this film, was a dead end. Of course, eventually, all the dead ends lead to a direction and a destination but the journey felt laborious. Once we got on the train, I felt every single minute of the film and it was tasking on my mind to try to figure out who did it, while enjoying the journey to get there.

That’s the only problem I had. As far as what I liked, I enjoyed watching Kenneth Branaugh (who also directed the film) as Hercule Poirot with his fantastic mustache. He played the character as an obsessive, very serious, ego driven character who was also quite charming and subtly humorous. Although everyone seemed to know that he was the world’s greatest detective, he had no humility when it came to telling people he was the world’s greatest detective. The characters most endearing moments came when he was in solitude. Laughing hysterically at a book and staring reflectively at an old photograph.

Haris Zambarloukos’ Cinematography made for a beautiful looking film. Several long tracking shots made the train seem immersive yet confined and added needed movement to the setting of the stranded train.

The all-star cast of Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley and Josh Gad gives depth, credibility, and substance to a large cast of characters that would otherwise be forgotten were they played by unknowns.

I haven’t read the book but judging from the audience reaction, it was a fair adaptation. We don’t see many good mysteries like this in film anymore. Maybe my brain hurt because it needed the exercise.

Loading ...

Also in theaters this week, Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell are back as competing dad’s Dusty and Brad in Daddy’s Home 2. They’ve joined forces to provide their kids with the perfect Christmas. Their newfound partnership is put to the test when Dusty's old-school, macho Dad, played by Mel Gibson, and Brad's ultra-affectionate and emotional Dad, played by John Lithgow, arrive just in time to throw the holiday into complete chaos.

There are some cool events happening for film fans and aspiring filmmakers this weekend. On Sunday, the Arkansas Cinema Society is presenting a “Writing for Film” seminar with Jeff Nichols. It’s at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater in downtown Little Rock. You can get tickets through the Arkansas Cinema Society’s website.

It’s also the weekend of the El Dorado Film Festival. It kicked off on Thursday with the Southern premiere of Last Flag Flying. You can still catch a slew of drama and comedy short films plus a group made in Arkansas. Day passes are $15. You can get more information at the festival’s website.