Death on the Nile (2022)

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 4/5/22;
20th Century;
Mystery;
Box Office $45.43 million;
$29.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $43.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for violence, some bloody images, and sexual material.
Stars Kenneth Branagh, Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Rose Leslie, Emma Mackey, Tom Bateman, Annette Bening, Russell Brand, Ali Fazal, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Sophie Okonedo, Letitia Wright.

The end of the 2017 adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express featured famed fictional Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) summoned to Egypt to handle another murder case, seemingly teasing Christie’s Death on the Nile as a potential sequel.

Well, Branagh does return as Poirot and as director for Death on the Nile, but it ends up not following up on that tease. Instead, it’s three years later, 1937 (the year Christie released Nile, incidentally), and Poirot is mentioned as having solved that case in Egypt, which ends up being unrelated to the new storyline.

After beginning with a flashback to World War I that depicts an origin story for Poirot’s famous mustache, the film finds the detective returning to Egypt for a bit of a vacation, where he ends up as a guest to the wedding party of Linnet and Simon (Gal Gadot and Armie Hammer). The couple have invited some friends on a swanky cruise down the Nile, and enlist the aid of Poirot in keeping an eye on Jackie (Emma Mackey), Simon’s former fiancée who has taken to stalking the couple out of jealous rage for being spurned for the wealthier Linnet.

When a string of murders do take place onboard the ship, Poirot is hard-pressed to stop them, though he is keen on solving them, which does beg the question of why the killers insist on continuing with their plans even knowing that a world-class sleuth is accompanying them and he always solves the case. Maybe they’re just masochistic for the challenge of stumping him.

Anyway, Branagh and screenwriter Michael Green have tweaked the source material a bit to give the story a more modern feel despite its period setting, swapping the race and gender of a few characters, such as making the romance novelist character from the book into a touring jazz singer and budding love interest for Poirot.

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Beautifully shot and visually exquisite on HD and Ultra HD displays, Branagh imbues the film with an impeccable sense of style, staying true to the spirit of the original novel while peaking behind the mustache at what makes Poirot tick.

The Blu-ray includes nearly 40 minutes of behind-the scenes featurettes that offer some good insights into the making of the film. The 15-and-a-half-minute “Death on the Nile: Novel to Film” examines the collaboration between the filmmakers and Christie’s estate to bring the latest adaptation of her book to life, while the six-minute “Agatha Christie: Travel Can Be Murder” takes a look at some of Christie’s inspirations for setting the book in Egypt. “Design on the Nile” is an 11-minute featurette about the creation of the costumes and sets for the film, highlighted by a tour of the river yacht at the center of the story. The five-and-a-half-minute “Branagh/Poirot” focuses on Branagh’s talents as a director while also starring in the film.

Rounding out the extras are eight deleted scenes that are pretty interesting and run about 10 minutes in total.

Christopher Robin

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 11/6/18;
Disney;
Family;
Box Office $98.87 million;
$29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘PG’ for some action.
Stars Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Bronte Carmichael, Mark Gatiss.
Voices of Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett, Nick Mohammed, Peter Capaldi, Sophie Okonedo, Toby Jones.

Disney’s live-action version of “Winnie the Pooh” takes a cue from Hook in a child revisiting a fantasy realm after he’s grown up and discovering it’s important to never let go of that childhood sense of whimsy.

The film picks up as Christopher Robin preparing to go off to boarding school and saying goodbye to Pooh and his other pals of the Hundred-Acre Wood (depicted at the conclusion of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh). Then the film gives us a taste of Christopher Robin’s life as he was growing up by cleverly presenting moments of his young adult life as new chapters in a book of his continuing adventures. He eventually marries, has a daughter and begins to forget all about Pooh.

The adult Christopher (Ewan McGregor, who’d be making an Obi-Wan Kenobi movie by now if the stubborn bosses at Lucasfilm figured out how to decipher their audience) becomes absorbed in his work as an efficiency expert at a luggage manufacturer and becomes isolated from his family. When tasked with spending a weekend finding a way to cut costs to keep the company open, he is forced to stay behind as his family goes on vacation to the family cottage of his childhood. But his daughter (Bronte Carmichael) has discovered his childhood drawings of Pooh and friends, and the old memories seem to stir Pooh from a long slumber.

Not finding any of his friends, Pooh journeys into the real world to ask Christopher Robin for help.

The live-action designs of Pooh are somewhat of a cross between how they looked in the Disney cartoons and the vintage stuffed animals that originally inspired the stories. Thanks to some terrific visual effects, they are textured and unmistakably doll-like in their appearance, but just as lifelike as they ever were in animated form.

The storyline veers into some darker tones as it establishes Christopher Robin’s grown-up troubles and how sad it makes Pooh and the others that their old friend seems to have drifted away from them. But then they find his daughter, and she whisks them off to help Christopher Robin solve his problems at work (even if the ultimate solution turns out to be rather simplistic and a bit bizarre).

There are chases and mischief and the usual laughs to be expected from transplanting these magical living dolls into a real-world setting. Really, though, the film is at its best when it’s focused on the fun times to be had in the Hundred-Acre Wood and is basically just the live-action version of the old animated shorts.

The Blu-ray is rather light on extras, including just four behind-the-scenes featurettes that run about 15 minutes in total.