Crime sells, and it sells a lot. From television to books to movies, it sells. As much as humans might want to deny their fascination with crime, it sells. That is why there are so many TV shows that center solely on crime. That is why newspapers and news agencies thrive on the topic. It brings those eyeballs, and with them, sales. That is why some of the most well-known novels in literary history center on crime. One of the great names in literary crime is the late great author Agatha Christie. Her novels about Hercule Poirot and the crimes that he solved are known the world around. They have been read by countless audiences, and the TV series that rose from the books has been seen by just as many viewers. The popularity of Christie’s works is such that they have also led to multiple big screen adaptations of those books, the most recent being this year’s take of her novel, Death on the Nile. Released theatrically this year through 20th Century Studios, it came 44 years after the then most recent adaptation, which was released in 1978. Now Tuesday, it will come home on DVD and Blu-ray, less than two months after its Feb. 11 domestic theatrical premiere.
The second of 20th Century Studios’ adaptations from Christie’s novels following the 2017 release of Murder on the Orient Express (which was also a reboot of a previous theatrical rendition), this presentation is not terrible nor is it great. It is worth watching at least once. The studio’s new updated take of Murder on the Nile is worth watching at least once. That is due in large part to the story, which will be discussed shortly. While the story makes for its own engagement and entertainment, the pacing thereof is slightly problematic. It is not enough to doom the movie, but is still important to note. It will be discussed a little later. The movie’s general presentation works with the story to make for more appeal, and will also be addressed later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of Death on the Nile. All things considered, they make this latest update on the story worth watching occasionally.
20th Century Studios’ reboot of Death on the Nile is an interesting update on the late great author’s timeless crime thriller novel. Its appeal comes primarily through its story. The story is simple. It features Poirot on a boat trip down the Nile River with a group of well-to-do individuals as part of a couple’s honeymoon. Along the way, the newlywed wife, Linnet Ridgeway (Gal Gadot — Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman 1984, Red Notice) is gunned down as she sleeps one night during the river cruise. Linnet’s new husband, Simon (Armie Hammer — The Lone Ranger, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Social Network) is heartbroken, and everyone on board is a suspect. Poirot (played here once again by Kenneth Branagh — Murder on the Orient Express, Henry V, Hamlet) interviews each suspect on board, including his own friend, Bouc (played once again by Tom Bateman — Jekyll & Hyde, Murder on the Orient Express, Snatched). AS the interviews take place and everyone suspects everyone else, two other murders happen, and they are connected directly to that of Linnet. The final reveal will not be covered here out of respect for those who have yet to watch the movie, but in hindsight, it comes as no surprise, considering how so many real life crime stories unfold in shows, such as Dateline and 48 Hours. This critic will at least admit that the one person thought to be the offender turned out to not be that person, but rather a red herring. Now given, being another adaptation of Christie’s original story, there are variations, which is somewhat disconcerting. At the same time though, the story plays out relatively well and will keep viewers engaged and entertained.
While the story plays out so well, there is still a concern about its pacing. The story wastes little time introducing the main characters. However, from there, the story takes its time building up the full plot. Specifically, it spends the first hour of its two hours building the plot. That buildup drags more than once, which will lead some audiences to want to fast forward plenty of times. The second act, which takes place aboard the boat, drags at multiple points, too as Poirot interviews each suspect. What keeps things moving is the surprise murders that happen in connection with that of Linnet. If not for those moments though, the movie would have otherwise just plodded along, so to that end, it’s more proof of the attraction that humans have to crime. Even in the final act as Poirot begins to unfold everything, the remaining group together in one room, there seems to be a bit more exposition than is really needed. Thankfully it is not so much that it bogs down the action too much. Keeping all of this in mind, the story’s pacing does pose some problems for the movie’s overall presentation. Thankfully though, that issue is not so concerning that it makes the movie a total failure.
Keeping in mind that the pacing, while problematic is not overly so, there is at least one more positive to this reboot’s presentation. That positive is the movie’s general presentation. It is clear throughout the movie’s two hour six minute run time (which is relatively short considering how most movies average two and a half hours nowadays if not longer) that lots of sound stages and computer generated effects are used. At times that blend of real sets and CG is a little bit cheesy, but there is honestly something appealing about it, especially in an age when so many movies rely almost entirely on computer generated graphics and green screens. It is a bit of a throwback to movie making from a bygone era. The costumes are also nice throwbacks, including Branagh’s clearly fake mustache. Speaking of Branagh, his acting is part of that general presentation. It leads the way once again among a cast whose work is otherwise just part of the whole. Also of note here is that while there is some blood used at points, its use is so minimal. In an age when so many crime stories overly use blood and gore, this minimalist approach is just as welcome to the general presentation as anything else. It is such a nice change of pace. Keeping everything noted here in mind, the whole of the general presentation makes for its own share of engagement and entertainment. When that engagement and entertainment is considered along with the overall positive of the movie’s story, the whole makes this reboot of Death on The Nile worth watching at least occasionally.
20th Century Studios’ new update of Agatha Christie’s crime novel, Death on the Nile is an intriguing presentation. It is not great nor is it terrible. Its story, which is relatively easy to follow makes for most of the reason for giving it a chance. It is a crime story that while fiction, is mirrored in real life by just as many true stories very similar in fashion, ironically enough. The story’s pacing is somewhat problematic because it drags at points throughout the story. The general presentation works with the story to make for more engagement and entertainment. When the two items are considered together, they make for reason enough to give the movie some appeal and in turn worth watching at least occasionally. Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of this movie’s presentation. All things considered, they make this reboot of Murder on the Nile worth watching at least occasionally.
Murder on the Nile is scheduled for release Tuesday on DVD and Blu-ray. More information on this and other titles from 20th Century Studios is available at:
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