Archive for the ‘Daisy Ridley’ Category

murderOne of my big complaints when it comes to humans and movies that are based on books is that invariably most humans I know will say, “It isn’t as good as the book.”   I have many problems with this statement not the least of which is that it is impossible to turn a 400+ page book, or whatever sized book, into an enjoyable 2 hour movie.  The biggest example of this for me is I remember when the Lord of The Rings Trilogy was released I had people telling how much was left out.  But when they decided to turn The Hobbit into three movies, I heard bitching that there was barely enough material for two movies let alone three.  So my suggestion to you all who have read or enjoying reading books and then worry whether or not the movie will be just as good I say STOP.  Just enjoy the movie for what it is and keep it separate from whatever book it is based off of because chances are if you are still reading books you are going to it more than the movie.

Now I know what you are asking, “What does any of this have to do with your review of Murder on the Orient Express?”  Well my dear readers, all two of you, I mention this because I know that this movie is based on a book by the famous author Agatha Christie.  It is also a book I have never read so this was a blank slate for me.  What amazes me about this story is that it is entertaining but the ending left me with an almost overwhelming feeling of sadness.  Justice was served but it left me with an empty feeling and I just don’t know how to feel about that because I wasn’t expecting it.  But it doesn’t make it a bad, quite the contrary I did enjoy the film and hope that director/lead actor Kenneth Branagh does another of these films because I would definitely go to see another one.

World famous detective Hercule Poirot, played by Kenneth Branagh (Peter’s Friends) has found himself aboard the passenger train The Orient Express travelling from Istanbul to Paris with an eclectic group of fellow passengers.  The train runs in to issues in the mountains when an avalanche blocks the tracks and strands the train and its passengers for a few days until it can be cleared.  The morning after the avalanche one of the passengers is found murdered and Poirot is hired by the manager of the train to solve the murder before the train makes its next stop.

murder2The strength of the movie is the cast as almost all of them do an excellent job of portraying their characters.  I believe the best of the good group was Branagh as Poirot. For being a Brit he was able to pull off French quite well.  He also was quite entertaining bringing emotion to the character both with the humor in the beginning and the sadness /anger at the end of the film.  While Branagh set the pace of all the cast I felt the next closest was Josh Gad (Pixels) as Hector MacQueen who was the assistant to the murdered passenger and the first suspect.  I felt uncomfortable as he felt uncomfortable during his interrogation.  I also want to make special note to actress Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens,) who is Mrs. Mary Debenham.  While her performance is fine but not spectacular there is something about her that I find oddly attractive.  I mean she is a lovely woman and she can definitely act but there is just something about her that just stokes the fire.  If I were to rank her in forms of sweets I like and Olivia Munn is my Easter Peeps, Daisy would be a DQ Reese’s peanut butter cup blizzard.  If there is one actor whose performance I can’t quite figure out if it was excellent or horrible it would surprisingly be Johnny Depp (Mortdecai.)  He plays an obviously crooked art dealer name Edward Ratchett.  Depp plays Ratchett in such a way that I actually hate him and I can’t tell if it’s an awesome performance played perfectly or he hated being in this film and it showed.  The reason I have for this is that at the beginning of the film he played his character just as sleazy and as horrible as any human could be which didn’t make sense to me not knowing the story.  But as the movie went along and followed the story it turns out that Ratchett is a horrible human so it made the performance brilliant…I think.  Don’t get me wrong, I think Depp is amazing and I believe his Jack Sparrow performance in Pirates of the Caribbean is tied for the best character performance in movie that I have seen (tied with Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday in Tombstone.)  The last performance I would like to mention is that of one of my crushes in the 80’s and early 90’s Michelle Pfeiffer (Hairspray.) While her performance as Caroline Hubbard was uninspiring it always makes me happy to see her.  I still have fond memories of her in Batman Returns in that Catwoman uniform and she is downright Goddess like in the movie Wolf. murder3

I know I wasted a bunch of paper earlier talking about not knowing the story of the book.  I decided to do the online Cliffnotes version i.e. Wikipedia and looked up the story of the book and it appears that the basic story of both match.  Which I must admit is interesting idea (If you haven’t figured it out I am purposely being vague as to not spoil the ending if you, like me, had not seen the 1974 film or read the book.)  I will say that the beginning seemed to be a little slow and it did appear somewhat obvious who was going to be murdered as we were introduced to the characters. That being said the mystery kept me interested and the ending was surprising and as I have already mentioned somewhat unhappy in the final result.

Despite the sadness of the ending of the movie I was moved by it and that is due to how Branagh shot the final scenes as well as the music put to it by Patrick Doyle, who is used in most if not all of Branagh’s movies.  The ending stuck with me as I walked out of the theater, in and out of the bathroom, and through the traffic on the way home.  As for the rest of the production I thought visually it was quite nice with lovely wide shots of Jerusalem and Istanbul in the beginning of the film which are greatly contrasted with the close quarters of the train and the choices Branagh made in showing the murder scene and other areas of the distressed train.

I do enjoy the film and like I said I hope we do see a follow up with Branagh as Poirot as the ending of the film has him leaving for Egypt for yet another murder.  This film has quite a few well-known actors that I did not talk about but not for nefarious reasons as their performances were fine.  The list includes but not limited to Penelope Cruz (Zoolander 2,) Willem Defoe (Clear and Present Danger,) and Judi Dench (Spectre.) If you like mysteries and are unfamiliar with the story I believe you will enjoy it and if you are familiar with it I hope you do.  With the many bad movies that are out there I do not believe you will be disappointed by this film.  Unless you are my friend Reed who doesn’t like any movie made after 1980 and thinks the 1974 version of this film is better without even seeing this one.  But he is a tool so don’t worry about him.


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Before I get into the review of this wonderful, wonderful, movie, let’s talk spoilers.   I do not wish to ruin the movie for anyone who has to wait to see it however I want to talk about it.  So what I will do is split the review into three parts.  The first part shall have virtually no spoilers at all, just the basics, generic plot and generic likes.  Part two will have some what I will call generic spoilers.  Likes and dislikes of the film without out giving anything major away.  Lastly, part three, will be very small and I will not tell you anything but if you know me then you know what I am talking about.

(Before I get started, if you want to read my Movie Review partners take, which is different, on this movie click here.  I saw the film opening night and he waited a week which is why my review is much more vague.)

To quote my text to my good friend Benn after I saw the movie, “OMFG…dude…OMFG.”  This makes me so happy to say that this is a wonderful film.  J.J. Abrams did the film franchise justice by his direction and the person who hired Lawrence Kasdan to help J.J. write the film also did the film series justice.  For those who don’t know Lawrence Kasdan, he wrote such small films like Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and Raiders of the Lost Ark.  This is just a fine, fine, film and all of those Star Wars fans have no reason to fear, this is the film you are looking for.

So thirty years after Darth Vader has been killed, the 2nd Death Star was destroyed, and the empire has fallen, the last remaining Jedi Knight, Luke Skywalker, is missing.  The remnants of the Empire have over time become The First Order.  They too want to take over the universe and they want to find Skywalker and eliminate him and destroy the last symbol of the light.  Standing in the way of The First Order is our friends The Rebellion.  So begins the journey.

The Force Awakens is paced very much like the original 3 movies.  The right amount of action versus the right amount of plot development.  Plus, unlike Episodes 1 thru 3, the plot development isn’t painfully slow and full of meetings and discussions.  Here the story tellers convey information, reveal some character traits, flaws, and move on.   The best way to describe the action is that is what I was hoping Lucas was going to do when he redid Star Wars because the technology in the 70’s was limited.  The original Star Wars films action was in space and, to me very two dimensional.  What I mean to say is that the interaction with the environment, particularly with the ship to ship fighting, was sterile.  In space, fighters fighting it out bouncing around larger ships, on planets we had featureless Tatooine, and Hoth.  In Force Awakens we see the Millennium Falcon fly through crashed Star Destoyers and other things.  I hope I am making since.

Lastly I will finish the non-spoiler portion of my review by saying the music is once again brilliant because once again the brilliant John Williams created the score.

I told my friend Reed, who is the cheapest human I know and quite possibly the cheapest human on the planet, that this movie deserves to be seen in a movie theater with all the bells and whistles.  He needs to take his family to see it in a HD Movie Theatre with all of the surround sound controls.  I saw it in 3D by pure chance and you don’t have to do that but to do the film justice, if you like the first three movies at all, you can’t wait to see it on your 60 Inch Plasma TV, it isn’t good enough.  Wait till the crowds are gone and go and see it.  If you are a Gen X’er like me and Star Wars was your first film you saw in a movie theater, you will thank yourself for going to see it in the theater (and not a $2 movie theater Reed, real movie theater.)

************Part 2: Some minor spoilers-**********************************************

When I heard J.J. Abrams was directing The Force Awakes I was very excited.  He directed the Star Trek reboot and did a wonderful job of bringing that franchise from the malaise that was the Next Generation films.  I was curious to see what he was going to do because in the Star Trek film he basically nuked the time line we were used to and created a timeline of a Kirk who was a drunk and a Spock who is getting freaky with Uhura.  J.J. can’t do that in the Star Wars world (which I would argue makes the Star Wars world more sacrosanct then the Star Trek world because you can mess with the lore of Star Trek and be ok, you can’t with Star Wars.)

Abrams saves the Star Wars franchise by going back to the future.  The first two acts of The Force Awakens I feel were original and entertaining.  But when we get to Act 3, you will start watching and tell yourself, hey, I have seen this before.  And indeed you have seen this before and I am ok with it.  In order to distance this movie from the garbage that was Episodes 1 thru 3, Abrams and Kasdan said let’s give the Star Wars fans something familiar to feel  at the end of this movie and then break new ground going forward.  So Act 3 has almost no surprises.  Now there is a huge, huge, surprise in act 3 but as you are in act 3 and the scene develops you get the feeling you know what’s going to happen.  So while Act 3 is familiar, it is still wonderful.

Another thing that is well done with this movie is that we have a good mix of the new generation of heroes and villains and old ones.  I will freely admit that this film has 90 sec of Luke Skywalker in it, but as the movie moves along you realize that this isn’t his film to help with the transition.  This is all about Han Solo, played by Harrison Ford (Star Wars) and Chewbacca and they are the leaders of the old guard who help introduce us to the next generation.  We do get to see Princess Leia,  played by Carrie Fisher (Star Wars) again as well as C3PO and a little R2D2 thrown in.  Even a few minor familiar characters make an appearance.  But it was all well planned and believable, you know Star Wars universe believable.

Casting choices for the next generation of heroes and villains were well done this time.  Thankfully we have no Hayden Christiansen to suffer with and no Jar Jar Binks to deal with either.  Our new heroes are, Rey, played by Daisy Ridley (Scrawl,) and she will be our new Jedi I personally believe,  Finn, or FN2183 If I remember, played by John Boyega (Half of a Yellow Sun) he is the Storm Trooper turned good guy you have seen in the trailers, Poe Dameron, played by Oscar Isaac (Robin Hood,) the Rebellion ace pilot.  The one villain we are introduced to is Kylo Ren, played by Adam Driver (J.Edgar) who is a man much like his grandfather who struggles between following the dark side of the force or the light.  One thing I love about all of them is that you really haven’t heard of them before and that is wonderful to me.  Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and to a lesser extent, Harrison Ford, were a bunch of nobodies before Star Wars and now they are giants.

Just so I can be a tiny bit balanced, to find something to complain about, the special effects on the new supreme bad guy, yeesh, by far the worst thing about the new film.  Still 1000 times better than the best thing about any of Episode 1 thru 3.

This ends part 2 of some spoilers.  Part 3 is next so if you know me go away.


****************************Danger, Danger, spoiler ahead*****************************************************************

Part 3 of the review- one major spoiler

This will be brief and while I will not tell you what happened my statement will tell you if you know me at all.

As a child growing up with a single parent, I had a dad, and I had the movies, ok, and football.  One of my first movie memories was Star Wars.  I was a Star Wars fan from the beginning.  It was my childhood.  But, J.J. Abrams did one thing in this film, which I am ok with but still sad none the less.  He killed my childhood.



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