Murder on the Orient Express appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Across the board, this became a fine transfer.
Sharpness worked well, as the movie offered excellent delineation. Virtually no softness manifested during this accurate presentation.
No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred. In addition, I saw no signs of edge haloes or print flaws either.
Even with its period setting, Express opted for a predictable teal and orange palette. While those choices felt trite, the Blu-ray reproduced them as intended.
Blacks looked deep and rich, and low-light elements boasted good clarity. All of this created a highly satisfying image.
Due to the story’s character focus, I didn’t expect much from the film’s DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack, but I found a fairly engaging mix. Most of the movie focused on music and general ambience, and those domains provided a nice sense of the material.
A few more dynamic sequences added zest to the proceedings, most of which concentrated on the movement of the train. These gave the soundscape a nice sense of place and setting, all of which brought out useful material – and the avalanche boasted a terrific impact as well.
Audio quality worked nicely. Speech seemed natural and concise, while music was warm and full.
Effects showed fine clarity and impact, with deep low-end as appropriate. I felt pleased with this well-executed soundtrack.
The disc comes with a good mix of extras, and we begin with an audio commentary from actor/director Kenneth Branagh and screenwriter Michael Green. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/characters as well as the adaptation of the source, sets and locations, cast and performances, shooting 65mm and cinematography, editing, music, and connected domains.
Expect a lively chat, as Branagh and Green deliver a spirited affair. They occasionally veer too much into happy talk, but they move along the track at a good rate and offer more than enough useful material along the way.
13 Deleted Scenes run a total of 16 minutes, 40 seconds. These tend to focus on character elements, and that makes some of them valuable, as they expand the underdeveloped roles. I don’t know how well they would’ve fit into the final product, but I could see a few as useful additions to the narrative.
We can view the scenes with or without commentary from Branagh and Green. They tell us about the sequences and usually let us know why these segments got the boot. Their notes add value.
A few featurettes fill out the set, and these open with Agatha Christie: An Intimate Portrait. It runs 19 minutes, three seconds and includes info from Green, Branagh, Christie’s grandson Mathew Prichard, historian Dr. John Curran, authors Anthony Horowitz and Sophie Hannah, executive producer James Prichard, and actor Johnny Depp. We also get some archival recordings of Christie herself.
As the title implies, we learn a little about Christie’s life and career, with an emphasis on Express. Mostly, though, “Portrait” praises Christie and her work, so it doesn’t give us a ton of real information.
During the nine-minute, 54-second Let’s Talk About Hercule Poirot, we hear from Hannah, Mathew Prichard, Curran, Branagh, Horowitz, James Prichard, Green, actor Daisy Ridley and more archival recordings of Christie. “Talk” offers data about the movie’s lead character. It proves to be reasonably engaging.
Three separate featurettes under Unusual Suspects add up to a total of 17 minutes, 53 seconds. Across these, we hear from Branagh, Depp, Ridley, Hannah, Green, executive producer Aditya Sood, and actors Derek Jacobi, Josh Gad, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sergei Polunin, Lucy Boynton, Willem Dafoe, Tom Bateman, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Marwan Kenzari, Leslie Odom Jr., and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo.
The “Suspects” clips examine cast, characters and performances. These clips offer a few insights but they mostly pursue promotional goals.
With The Art of Murder, we find a 16-minute, 23-second show that includes info from Sood, Green, Branagh, Mathew Prichard, James Prichard, Boynton, Jacobi, Dafoe, Depp, Gad, Dench, Odom, Pfeiffer, production designer Jim Clay, executive producer Matthew Jenkins, train consultant Tim Parkin, special effects supervisor David Watkins, costume designer Alexandra Byrne, key textile artist Steven Gell, and supervising costume prop modeler Naomi Critcher.
“Murder” offers some basics about the project’s path to the screen before it gets into production design, sets/locations, the recreation of the titular train and costumes. Like other shows, it comes with too much hyperbole, but it still delivers positive info about sets and costumes.
All Aboard takes up 16 minutes, 35 seconds and features Branagh, Depp, Jenkins, Gad, James Prichard, Clay, Sood, Dench, Odom, Horowitz, Hannah, Mathew Prichard, Cruz, Dafoe, Ridley, steadicam operator Stamos Triantafyllos, and stunt coordinator James O’Donnell.
This one views shooting on 65mm film, sets, various effects, stunts/action, and story elements. Much of “Aboard” works pretty well and gives us a bit more material to digest.
Finally, Music of Murder goes for seven minutes, 31 seconds and supplies remarks from composer Patrick Doyle. As expected, he delivers thoughts about his score in this short but informative reel.
In addition to two trailers, the disc completes with a Gallery that offers 36 photos from the production. Though these are pretty good images, the presentation loses points as the “windowboxed” pictures don’t fill the screen’s available space.
A strong cast adds life to Murder on the Orient Express, but the end product comes across as too somber. The film lacks much to make its inherent mystery compelling, so it tends to drag. The Blu-ray offers excellent visuals along with strong audio and a largely positive package of bonus features. I want to like Express more than I do, as it delivers a lackluster murder mystery.