Murder on the Orient Express: when a huge cast of amazing actors… goes horribly wrong

Murder on the Orient Express move review

This is going to be a mix of a movie and book review, so bear with me!

Murder on the Orient Express is one of those Agatha Christie books everyone knows, I think. For me, when I read her books years ago, it was a must-read, if not THE one to read.

I must admit back then, it took me some time to appreciate Poirot, but I got there in the end.

So, I was a wee bit excited when I saw that Kenneth Branagh (!!) was directing and acting in a movie version, with the most incredible cast.

So off I went to see it, but somehow I came out feeling deflated.

The movie has a huge cast of characters – d’uh, I know – but I didn’t feel like everyone got as much as time as I would have liked. For instance, Penelope Cruz barely had anything to say, and mostly sat around looking sad and broken. And I honestly can’t remember Judy Dench saying anything in it, besides yelling at her maid, maybe?

Michelle Pfeiffer though was amazing. AMAZING. And I am ready for more of her in many, many movies.

I came out of there longing for the book and opted for a dramatization of it on audiobook.

Much like the movie, it was rewritten as a radio dramatization, but I still felt like the characters were richer for it. Especially Mrs Hubbard AKA Michelle Pfeiffer’s character in the movie. She’s a rich character, so filled with loss and who, more than anyone, is playing a part in the story.

Much like the movie, the book surprised me with her change from one type of character to another. When I saw the movie, I’d actually forgotten the part Hubbard plays in the book until about half-way through the movie and when it happened, and it was still a woah-moment for me.

I’m still struggling to properly say why I didn’t enjoy the movie – saying there wasn’t enough time devoted to a large cast of characters is ridiculous because it’s a large cast of characters, and you can only do so much with each. Perhaps, if it had been more evenly balanced? Focused on the mystery?

Maybe by the time the next movie comes out, I’d have figured it out.

Have you watched? What did you think?


  • Becky V. says:

    Ooh, sad to hear. I’m looking forward to seeing this as I loved the book and yes, this has such a huge amazing cast—but I’ll go in with much lower expectations now (ha, maybe it’ll make it so I’m pleasantly surprised!)

  • I haven’t watched it or read the book but Kenneth Branagh is also directing the Artemis Fowl movie so I’m interested in it anyway. Haha 😀

    • Verushka says:

      Generally speaking I love Kenneth Branagh’s stuff — I have since he did Dead Again with emma thompson — which Is why I expected to love this. Artemis Fowl is another one to look forward to!

  • Angela says:

    That’s disappointing! I haven’t read the book in years but have wanted to reread it. Maybe I’ll do that instead of watching the movie?

  • I read the books year ago, and I do really love it, though it’s not my favorite Christie (that’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd as of now) but I did enjoy the movie. It was a bit slow moving, and I do agree that not all the actors got equal amount of time, but I think that’s inevitable with a big cast. I am ready for another Poirot film though! 🙂


    • Verushka says:

      Did I read Roger Ackroyd? I don’t think I did. One to add to the TBR! You’re right, it is inevitable that a big cast would not have equal attention — maybe it was just me? I love KB, I genuinely do and I have for ages. Maybe my excitement for this got the better of me?

  • Wow, that’s so disappointing, especially that a talent like Judi Dench was so wasted. I haven’t read the book yet but have been dying to see the movie because I love Michelle Pfeiffer. I think I’ll save some cash and wait for it to come to Redbox so I can watch it for $1.50, lol.

    • Verushka says:

      Michelle Pfeiffer is just SO GOOD in this, she really is! And I hear you — I wanted more for Judi Dench to do! I wanted for everyone to do! But that might’ve been an extra long movie lol

  • Greg says:

    I haven’t seen it but I really wanted to. And I haven’t read the book either, I should and THEN watch it. lol that would be the sensible thing to do. I have seen a lot of mixed reviews on the movie though…

    • Verushka says:

      Read the book first, I think. Go in having the full story in your head so to speak *nods* After seeing the movie, I saw all the mixed reviews lol

  • Daniela Ark says:

    I have’t watched it and now I don;t think I will LOL what a waste of talent huh?

  • Silvia says:

    Noooo . . . !!!! I was quite excited about this movie, so I was really hoping for a positive review. What a shame to hear it was such a disappointment 🙁

  • I really want to read the book but I can’t see myself watching the movie. Especially after reading your thoughts. Thanks for sharing them!

  • I have not watched, but my mum saw it and came out feeling much the same as you: seriosuly deflated. I recently read one of the new Poirot books by Sophie Hannah, and I would really recommend those. They are really in the spirit of the originals and Sophie Hannah is such a great mystery writer – she keeps you guessing until almost the end every time.

  • Awe, it’s too bad you weren’t able enjoy it as much as you were hoping to. I will wait till it comes to Redbox.☺

  • Sorry the movie was a disappointment :-/ Tbh I didn’t even know this was a book lol. But I’m glad you seem to have enjoyed the book more?

  • Kelly says:

    I’ve never actually read the book. I was never much of a murder mystery reader until cosy mysteries came along actually. Michelle Pfeiffer is such an accomplished actress though, there’s only Bern one film of hers that I’ve seen that was terrible, Grease 2. It’s probably one she’d like to forget as well. I’m going to grab the audio book now, I absolutely love radio dramas! Brilliant review Verushka and sorry that the film wasn’t as great as you expected <3

  • The book is one that I have wanted to read forever! I have also been thinking about seeing the movie without reading the book (gasp!), but now maybe I will go with the book instead. It almost seems like they packed the movie with every popular actor under the sun. 😉

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