20th Century Studios’ ‘Murder On The Nile’ Reboot Is A Reboot That Is Actually Worth Watching…If Only Occasionally

Courtesy: 20th Century Studios

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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‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ Is The Worst Of DC, Warner Brothers’ Superhero Flicks So Far

Courtesy: DC/Warner Brothers

Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.  Everybody knows that old adage.  Warner Brothers and DC’s recent presentation (and home release) of Zack Snyder’s Justice League is proof positive of that old adage.  Released through HBO Max after years of protest by Snyder’s minions, the movie was released this summer on DVD and Blu-ray.  Given, the original 2017 cut (which used only part of Snyder’s work before his departure from the project) was hardly memorable, it is far better by comparison than the Snyder cut.  This four-hour presentation is even worse than the movie’s original 2017 cut, and that is saying something, too.  There is little if anything to like about this take of Justice League.  The most prominent problem with the Snyder Cut is its story.  This will be discussed shortly.  The story ties into another prominent problem, the pacing.  Rounding out the movie’s problems is its general presentation.  This item will also be discussed later.  Each item is important in its own way to the whole of Zack Snyder’s Justice League.  All things considered, they make the movie the least memorable of DC and Warner Brothers’ DC titles to date.

Warner Brothers and DC’s presentation of Zack Snyder’s Justice League is proof positive that people really should be careful what they wish for.  That is because while its 2017 predecessor is not necessarily the greatest of the companies’ offerings, it is also not their worst.  That dishonor belongs to the recently premiered (and home released) “Snyder Cut” of Justice League.  The movie suffers from so many problems, not the least of which being its story.  The story, which runs four hours, two minutes in length, is marred right from the get go.  The first two hours are spent building up the background for each member of the Justice League.  The story plods along as a result of this, leading to an issue in the pacing, which will be discussed a little later.  It is not even until almost two hours into the movie that audiences finally get the movie’s first fight scene between the Justice League’s members and Steppenwolf.  This critic is a lifelong DC fan, but this approach to the movie’s first half is completely counterproductive.  By comparison, Marvel Studios did create a number of movies for each member of the Avengers.  There is not denying that.  At the same time though, those movies do all of the buildup for the key characters, thus allowing more time for more important elements in the big final presentation that was the Infinity Saga.  This is the model that DC should have used from day one for its Justice League buildup.  DC and Warner Brothers sort of tried that with Wonder Woman and Man of Steel (which was terrible to say the least in itself) but what with so many batman movies out there, it was next to impossible to figure out how to build up his back story and make it work for this story.  The companies also tried a setup for Green Lantern in 2011, but that movie flopped, with even star Ryan Reynolds decrying the movie in hindsight.  It likely explains why the Green Lantern Corps was mentioned only in passing in this movie.  Add in everything from the story’s epilogue and things get even more problematic.  The whole just adds too much to the whole.  Perhaps the only true positive (or really positives) is Steppenwolf’s acknowledgement of the multi-verse at one point in the story and the Joker’s mention of alternate timelines in the movie’s epilogue.  Considering all the talk of the Flashpoint crossover and the Crisis on Infinite Earths in the DCEU’s television world, it all actually ties together at least a little better.  Though, the use of what is apparently a Lazarus Pit in Superman’s ship and everything else that went into the story of his resurrection offsets all of that, too.  Simply put, the whole of the movie’s story is forgettable.  It simply tries too hard and falls flat.

As noted already, the pacing tied in to the story makes for even more problems for this presentation.  Because of all of the brooding and buildup in the movie’s first half, things really do plod along at nearly a snail’s pace.  Again, if that buildup had been relegated to the standalone movies for the JL’s members, then the story could have just gotten right to the point and moved along at a much more pleasant pace.  What’s more, the epilogue involving Bruce Wayne’s dream (what proves to set up an alternate reality story line) and everything involving Cyborg’s story slows things down even more, as does the completely random meeting of Deathstroke/Slade Wilson and Lex Luthor.  It’s like Snyder just threw that in like so much more and thought it would work.  Sadly it just slows things down once again after the movie could have ended following Steppenwolf’s defeat (not to give away too much).  Simply put, the movie moves too slow too often and just the right speed at too few spots.  The result is that the pacing proves just as problematic as the movie’s story.

As if the negative impact of the story and its pacing are not enough, the general presentation is also problematic.  Audiences who are familiar with Zack Snyder’s work will easily catch the over the top slow motion effects, and the blood and gore.  He follows the same stylistic approach throughout this movie, with more than enough bloodshed (and even Superman holding a skeleton at one point) to appease the most bloodthirsty viewers.  Such approach really is disappointing, as is the unnecessary use of so much foul language and dark, gritty look throughout the story.  People go to movies to escape the grim reality of reality, not to be exposed to even more grim, brooding presentations.  Snyder needs to realize and just accept this.  When and if he ever does, it will hopefully change his ways.  Otherwise, audiences are just going to get the same kind of presentation from Snyder from one movie to the next.  Hopefully, keeping this in mind, DC and Warner Brothers will employ Snyder less as time goes on.  Between this realization and that of the negative impact of the movie’s story and pacing, all three elements leave the movie a nearly complete failure.  The introduction of the Martian Manhunter (a.k.a. J’on Jonzz) is about the only positive, as it and Darkseid’s determination to get the Mother Boxes sets up more Justice League movies; movies that hopefully will not be written or even helmed by Zack Snyder.

Warner Brothers and DC’s recently released presentation that is Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a problematic new presentation from the companies.  There is little if anything to like about this movie.  Really the only positive that it has is that it sets up another Justice League movie that hopefully will not be helmed or written by Zack Snyder.  There was also the acknowledgement of the multiverse and alternate timelines, which aligns it (to a point) with DC’s television offerings.  What with the new Flash movie coming, it would seem that said presentation will take those mentions into account.  That is because the Flashpoint storyline did in fact involve Darkseid and Steppenwolf following its events in the comics.  Other than that, the movie fails with its story and pacing, as well as its general presentation.  All things considered, Zack Snyder’s Justice League proves to be the worst of DC and Warner Brothers’ superhero offerings to date. 

Zack Snyder’s Justice League is available now on DVD and Blu-ray.  More information on this and other DC titles from Warner Brothers is available at https://www.facebook.com/DECU2013.  

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.