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Movies are never like the books. But in this case, that might be a good thing. Acclaimed actor and director Kenneth Branagh is taking the Orient Express on his own rendition of the pulse racing suspense story and it’s bound to have you clutching your theater seat. With stunning panoramic views of exotic landscapes and beautiful cinematography; the newest edition of Murder on the Orient Express will be at your local movie theater on November 10th. With an all star cast featuring, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, William Dafoe, Josh Gad, Daisy Ridley (“Rey” from the Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens) and so many more! Branagh stars in the lead role as the legendary Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. 13 strangers are onboard the Orient Express and one of them was just murdered. Because the train is stuck in a snow bank, they are all trapped on this train and the killer is still on board! EVERYONE IS A SUSPECT!
Orient Express


With suspicion rising and tensions being crossed, everyone will be tested to prove their innocence. Will the Orient Express every make it to its final destination before the murderer can strike again? You’ll have to go watch and find out for yourself! No spoilers here! But we can give you the DISH on the characters and how they have been portrayed before. It’s always nice to compare and contrast. And before you go reading the book, as well you should, be aware that this movie has made some changes and it has taken some artistic liberties to make it a little more original and truly capture the spirit of this novel in a way that will translate for today’s modern generation.

The 1934 novel “Murder on the Orient Express” by Agatha Christie has been a powerhouse and staple of the mystery genre of literature for decades. But, written in its 1930s style, it can seem a bit dry to some readers who are used to more modern language in the words of their mystery thriller books. But trust me, the plot is there and Branagh has the artistic ability to thicken that plot. MotOE is actually the 10th book chronologically speaking in Christie’s coveted Hercule Poirot series of mystery stories. By this time, in the novels, Detective Poirot has solved so many murder cases and mysteries that he is now retired. This murder mystery just falls into his peculiar lap.  But I’m getting ahead of myself. This book has been read and re-read by many thousands of mystery lovers. This is most likely because MotOE epitomizes the popular and addicting “Who Dunnit” storyline. And well, we all know from how many cop dramas that there are on TV that people cannot get enough “Who Dunnit” and MURDER!

Detective
Let’s do a little bit of character breakdown, shall we?

Hercule Poirot is a short quirky Belgian Detective with observational skills so sharp, they make a shark’s teeth seem like marshmallows. Ok, not my best pun work but, my point is, the guy is a damned good detective and is often mentioned right after Sherlock Holmes when you read a list of fictional detectives. He is tidy and ceremonial and he believes in following the law to the letter. When corruption occurs, it disturbs him greatly and he always does what he can to uncover the truth. He is a pious man, who holds tightly to his faith and holds even tighter to his professional and dignified reputation. There is so much that can be said about the character of Hercule Poirot that I could probably make the article all about him. I’ll instead just say that it will be very interesting to see how Branagh will portray this beloved character. He has some very big shoes to fill from the likes of Albert Finney, David Suchet and many more!

Rachett - “The Gangster” character. He says he is an entrepreneur/business man. Rachett is played by Johnny Depp in this movie and from what I can tell from the trailers, his character seems dark and harrowing. Rachett tries to hire Poirot to work a case for him, offering him a huge stack of bills, which Poirot refuses. Hercule Poirot cannot be bought with mere money. Rachett is not pleased with this as he is a man that is used to getting what he wants. Something about him seems dangerous, and as we all know, Johnny Depp has the dangerous vibe in his acting down pact.
Gangster

Mary Debenham - The Governess is her marquee on trailer and movie posters.  Mary’s character is portrayed by actress Daisy Ridley. Mary Debenham is a reserved woman who does not back down easily. It’s hard to tell much about her character without giving too much away. Because of her shifty and secretive behavior, Poirot is suspicious of her from the get go.
Governess

Mrs. Hubbard - The Widow.
Michelle Pfeiffer has no trouble filling the shoes of a part that was once played by Lauren Bacall. Mrs. Hubbard is a woman who has seen a lot of the world, the world of men included. She is a loquacious character, who likes to spread a bit of drama for the extra attention that it grants her. Michelle Pfeiffer give Mrs. Hubbard an air of seduction that has not been overly prevalent in other portrayals of the character.
the widow

Pilar Estravados - The Missionary character played by Penélope Cruz was, until this movie, known as Greta Ohlsson. They have taken some artistic liberties with Cruz’s character making her Spanish instead of Swedish like the original Greta from the book. What has not changed is this character's self righteous love of Jesus and of protecting children.

Princess Dragomiroff - The Princess
I love Judi Dench. I always get warm tingles of delight when I watch her act cuz she always makes me forget it’s her. I always believe she’s an actual real life character. Ok, enough fangirling. Princess Dragomiroff is a Russian Princess who is traveling back to her homeland on the Orient Express. Or at least that’s what she claims. Her head always raised high and proud, Princess Dragomiroff’s class outranks all of those on board. She is travelling with her maid Hildegarde Schmidt.
princess
The Assistant
Gerhard Hardman - It’s a little difficult for me to know for sure if the details I know about this character are correct because in the book, this character’s name was Cyrus Hardman and he was not a professor. Willem Dafoe’s poster marquee, however, does say “The Professor” so I have think that maybe some of those artistic liberties I mentioned before had to have been taken here. Williem Dafoe’s professor character, I suppose, will have to remain a mystery until November 10th! The suspense is killing me!

Hector MacQueen - The Assistant
Josh Gad is a real up and comer who has been in the limelight a lot as of late. This role is no exception as his character, Hector MacQueen is Rachett’s assistant. He has seen the dark underbelly of the man that he works for, but he needs the money and he is good at what he does. And that’s why Rachett keeps him around.

Count & Countess Andrenyi - The Count and Countess are the elegant and sultry couple on board the Orient Express. Serdei Polunin & Lucy Boynton take on these roles. There seems to be something suspicious afoot when the credibility of the Countess is questioned by Poirot. He senses something is off about this couple and he is going to get to the bottom of it.
countCountess

Doctor
Hildegarde Schmidt - Olivia Colman takes on the role of Princess Dragomiroff’s Maid. She is a pleasant woman. However when she is questioned by Poirot, it seems she has a little trouble keeping her stories straight, but she attributes this to nervousness as she is naturally a shy person. She devotes her time to the care and welfare of her lady and is very loyal to her.

Dr. Arbuthnot - The Doctor
Leslie Odom Jr. has creative rein and wiggle room to really make his own character for this role because until now, it didn’t exist. What the directors and screenplay writers have done for this MotOE is roll two original characters into one. The characters from Christie’s novel were Colonel Arbuthnot & Dr. Constantine, a coroner that just happened to be on board. I am not sure of how Odom Jr.’s character interacts with the other characters, so that will also remain a mystery until November 11th!


Edward Masterman - DerekButler Jacobi is tasked with playing the subtle role of the dignified Butler. He is not a colorful man and is underestimated by Rachett, whom he serves. Masterman is very polite and obedient and a touch arrogant and even haughty as butlers usually are.


Mr. Bouc - Played by Tom Bateman, Mr. Bouc is The Owner of the company that owns the Orient Express. He is familiar with Hurcule Poirot having known him back in Belgium. He implores Poirot to take on this case and solve it quickly and quietly so as not to soil the reputation of his luxury locomotive line. He believes that the Yugoslavian police will not handle it properly and just seek to slander his name and the name of his company.

I think it will help you all, my readers, to go into this new movie with a little background on who these characters are. Remember, they are all important and each one of them is a suspect in the murder case. Agatha Christie’s novel, “Murder on the Orient Express” is a mystery and thrill filled with many twists and turns. We, the audience, get to enter the brilliant mind of Hercule Poirot and watch as he solves the mystery of who the murderer is. Kenneth Branagh is sure to lead this classic tale into our hearts and souls for the duration of its 1 hour and 54 minute run time. Don’t miss your train!

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 197 - November 2017
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