I will start by saying that I didn’t want to watch Death on the Nile, but my partner did. So we compromised, and I watched it. I’m not a fan of murder mysteries or Agatha Christie, but again, it’s all about compromise. Here’s my review.
My partner has seen the original a few times, I think I have caught the tail end of it in the past, but I can’t say I’ve seen it all the way through.
This new remake is by Kenneth Branagh and stars him, Tom Bateman, Annette Bening, Russell Brand, Letitia Wright, Emma Mackey, Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Rose Leslie, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders to name just a few.
The movie starts in WWI, when a band of French troops is given the command to attack a bridge. From the start, things started to annoy me. 4k digital footage of WWI in black and white, but far too clear?
I know this sounds silly, but I also watched Belfast the other day by Branagh and that had the same thing. It was supposed to be set in Northern Ireland in the late 1960s (I think), but it was in black and white, but also in glorious 4k and looked perfect, too perfect, for a film in black and white. I found it really took me out of the movie.
Anyway, Poirot is there and he manages to save the troops and take the bridge because of some CGI birds. They are all celebrating and the captain triggers a booby-trap and there’s a big explosion. This leaves Poirot with a massive scar and we learn that some chick that loved him doesn’t anymore, but tells him to grow a mustache to cover his face.
Yes, every character we have to follow in modern movies has to have some kind of back story. A lost love, or a historical detail that comes back later in the movie.
We then move to 1937 and Poirot is a famous detective and out for an evening meal in some local club in London.
We meet Hammer and Mackey as they are basically dry humping each other on the dance floor. I kid you not. The scene was stupidly overly done. In walks Gadot, who’s good friends with Mackey, and she meets Hammer. Hammer then dry humps Gadot on the dance floor and we find that Hammer was engaged to Mackey, leaves her, and ends up marrying Gadot.
Weeks later and we are in Egypt. Poirot bumps into an old friend and then meets up with Hammer and Gadot on their honeymoon. There’s a great scene where all the characters are literally narrated, so you know who’s who and that everyone could quite happily kill Gadot for her money, or her rendition of Imagine. I lol’ed at this.
Mackey turns up and ruins everything, having been hounding the couple since they split up. This is where there is zero attention to the details. Brand’s character was engaged to Gadot at some point. So, Mackey is Hammer’s ex and a psycho who is ruining their honeymoon, but Brand is Gadot’s ex, but they have invited him on their honeymoon?
It’s an hour into Death On The Nile before the victim is killed and then we find out who killed them. The end.
I think the end was the same as the original, but while the story is based on the book a lot has been changed or added to make it not the original.
I couldn’t have cared less about the characters. As the conclusion approaches, they all seem to have done it. The cast is good, Branagh is Poirot and he is in pretty much every scene, because he is the director, probably.
I do have a thing for Emma Mackey. She’s is very hot in Sex Education and she’s OK in this, just looking hot and behaving like a crazy jilted lover.
The rest of the cast is fine. I did laugh at Russell Brand, since he doesn’t say a word for the first two acts of the movie. I know his YouTube channel is full of politics, so it was an odd choice to cast him, but he kind of works in this.
It’s also weird seeing French & Saunders in this. If you are from the UK you will know them as a great comedy duo. Seeing them play straight was odd and it was even odder to have French with a British accent, but Saunders trying to do American.
At no point in the movie did Hammer attempt to eat anyone.
Here is a list of things that made the movie not work.
The cinematography was bad. It was trying way too hard to impress you. It was as if every other shot had to be considered for an award and was very arty. This was really off-putting. I have seen “dirtier” movies (not like that!), that looked so much better.
Not a single actor in Death On The Nile set foot anywhere near Egypt. The entire movie was green screen and on-set, then all digitally composited in. So at no point in the movie did you feel like you were in Egypt.
The 4k didn’t help with the fake scenery, as you could easily see how the movie just wasn’t real. Even my partner noticed it, which is not a good sign.
It turns out that the lead singer in the band from the 1930s nightclub was Gadot’s Godmother, so they invited them all to join them on their honeymoon. I mean… really? It’s a honeymoon. You’d think they would want some alone time?
When they carry the victim’s body around on the boat, it’s carried by four women. This would never, ever happen in a million years as the staff on the boat would have been almost exclusively male back then. It felt like it was trying to ram some kind of message home here, but the message wasn’t clear.
They put the body in a freezer on the boat. I couldn’t imagine a boat, no matter how expensive, having a freezer in Egypt. I was bored so I looked it up. The freezer wasn’t invented until 6 years after the movie was set. I imagine the chef was thrilled, having a body next to all his meats.
All in all, Death On The Nile will appeal to someone like my mother. She’s likes an old fashion murder mystery. She likes all the pretty dresses and handsome men and she’ll put it on the TV on a Sunday afternoon and have a nap in the chair. She will wake up at the end and say how she thought it was good.
I do like Branagh as a director. The first Thor movie was a great watch and very well done. Death on the Nile, however, was not.
I can’t see many others like me enjoying this. It’s dull, uninteresting, a vanity project for Branagh, and just another remake where you should sit and watch the original instead. I will never watch this again in my life, unless of course it was some form of torture in Hammer’s basement.