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LET’S WATCH… Death on the Nile

Posted on Friday, April 22nd, 2022

Dave!IT'S LET'S WATCH A MOVIE WEEK! Where I live-blog me watching a film and comment along the way! Most of these films I watched a while back, I just wanted to hold off talking about them until more people had a chance to see them. Because of the pandemic, and all that.

Today's movie is ... Death on the Nile!

Death on the Nile Poster

If you're somebody who just wants me to summarize and not have to read through the smalltalk to see how I felt, here you go: The 1978 film, Death on the Nile, is a far, far superior adaptation in every possible way (it's one of my favorite films ever). This new version is lazy, sloppy, and makes changes for the sake of making changes so that everything is about Hercule Poroit, not because they in any way improve the story. In short... go watch the Peter Ustinov original. It's amazing in ways that this version will never be.
GRADE: C-

If you haven't seen it yet, this will obviously be a spoiler-filled entry (I TOTALLY REVEAL THE MURDERER!). And probably not make a lot of sense. You've been warned.

Spoiler Zone!

  • Okay. We're using a de-aged Kenneth Branagh to show that he has always been hyper-observant. Interesting.
  • Ah. This entire pre-story exposition... ten whole minutes of scree-time... was to explain... HOW POIROT GOT HIS MUSTACHE?!? REALLY?!? Lord. And holy shit is this special effect close-up of the side of his face bad. His ear is hyper-focused while everything else is blurry? Takes me right out of the scene.
  • They're correcting a bit of a continuity error here. In the previous movie (Murder on the Orient Express) they said he was going to solve a murder mystery in Egypt. But that couldn't have been "Death on the Nile" because it wasn't a mystery he was called to solve, it was a mystery he ended up in the middle of. So they offhand-mention a different murder in Egypt that he solved.
  • Welp. They made Salome Otterbourne a musician instead of a writer. How in the hell will this play into her being a suspect now? Her whole deal was that she was being sued for defamation by the murder victim! WHY? HOW? Note that Otterbourne was played by the incomparable Angela Lansbury in the first film. She gave it 1000% and is one of the best parts of the movie.
  • This must be the last movie from Armie Hammer before he got cancelled? I always liked him as an actor. No idea he had a canibalism fetish, allegedly.
  • Gal Gadot as Linnet Ridgeway. In the original film, she was played flawlessly by Lois Chiles (who was famous as Bond-Girl Dr. Holly Goodhead in Moonraker).
  • All of this stuff with Poirot (now it's him being impulsive-compulsive over the number of desserts on his table?) is not important to the story... so why?
  • Jackie in the original was played by Mia Farrow and she was flawless in the role. Jackie ends up being driven mad (though not really) and Farrow totally got into in.
  • They really ripped away a huge chunk of Poroit's face as an excuse as to why he has such an elaborate mustache. Except his mustache wouldn't cover that big of a wound... nor would there be hair follicles to allow it, I think. So once again, what's the point of it all?
  • The pyramids are actually right at the edge of Cairo (not out in the middle of the dessert as is often thought), which means they had to go back in time with a CGI representation here. Gorgeous.
  • So... they're going to replace Colonel Race with Bouc (from the previous movie) in some kind of wild coincidence they they both happen to be at the Great Pyramid at the same time? Well, I do like Tom Bateman, but this is a really heavy-handed way to get him into the story. And of course Bouc is friends with Linnet Ridgeway and that's why he's in Egypt. Wow. This is bad. But they did get Annette Benning to play his mom, so I guess that's something.
  • In the first movie, they transitioned from Linnet meeting Jacquie's fiancé Simon... to Linnet and Simon's wedding in a smash-cut that was brilliant in execution.
  • So the socialist is not some young idealistic man as in the first film, but Jennifer Saunders? Who is wealthy? And has Dawn French as a caregiver? In the original film, there was a casting coup by getting Bette Davis to play this character (but not as a socialist, instead she was a bitter old wealthy woman that liked to torture her caregiver WHO WAS PLAYED BY DAME MAGGIE SMITH!)
  • And here's Bouc with an absurdly stupid monologue to explain the cast (and future murder suspects). This is so lazy. The original film managed this is a much more organic way. Of course, they've gone and made the relationships between characters a hell of a lot more intricate and unnecessary this time, so I guess they pretty much had to do it this way.
  • Cousin Andrew the corrupt lawyer was played by George Kennedy in the original. Heaven only knows how they will alter the character in this film.
  • So Rosalie, Salome Otterbourne's daughter, was a classmate of Linnet, and is now Salome Otterbourne's niece AND manager? I guess that's one way to make the part large enough to get Leticia Wright willing to play it.
  • And they've replaced Jack Warden as Doctor Besner with Russell Brand. And made him an ex-fiancé for Linnet? Lord, this is more convoluted than the British Royal family.
  • And heeeeeere's Jacquie. They are going for more of a slow-burn crazy this time instead of the manic crazy that Mia Farrow brought to the role last time.
  • I can only guess that the reason they wanted to use the wedding honeymoon on the Nile as an excuse to get everybody on the boat was to avoid comparison to the way they got everybody onto the train in Murder on the Orient Express. BUT THAT CHANGES THE STORY! Argh. They are making everything way too complicated and silly. And that's despite the fact that they are a lot more serious than the first movie was.
  • This whole pageantry crap with Gal Gadot adds nothing to the story. So what is it for? It's like they are removing the stuff that made the mystery Mae sense for crap that doesn't matter.
  • And they're finally on the Nile. In the original Agatha Christie novel, they provide a literal map at the front that shows you how all the cabins were arranged. It was critical to understanding how the murder(s) happened. The boat was a rather small, intimate affair. Unlike the massive riverboat
  • Kids playing in the river as the boat heads out. A striking difference to the kids who moon Bette Davis with their bare asses in the first film.
  • They actually had to write a scene where Linnet has to explain to Poroit that she doesn't feel safe with anybody on the boat. Lazy as hell. In the first movie it was far more subtle, which made the murder a bit more interesting.
  • Corrupt lawyer Cousin Andrew is the same in both movies. But this time, it's Rosalie who warns her about signing the contracts IN THE MOST RANDOM WAY POSSIBLE. In the first movie it was Colonel Race, and his entire reason for being on the trip was because he was asked by Linnet's British lawyers to keep an eye on the American lawyer, who couldn't be trusted.
  • Wait. Salome Otterbourne is going to be a romantic interest for Poirot? What the hell? AND HER NIECE ROSALIE IS IN A SECRET RELATIONSHIP WITH BOUC?!? BECAUSE OF COURSE SHE IT! THIS MOVIE CAN'T FUCKING HELP ITSELF!
  • Annette Benning is missing her carmine red paint. I can already tell that they are changing yet another part of the murder. It's nuts that a critical clue would be altered like this.
  • More idiotic distraction between Poroit and Salome Otterbourne that in no way services the story in any capacity.
  • SPOILER ALERT: THE MURDERER REVEALED HERE! The entire point of the murder was for Simon to inherit Linnet's money and go back to marrying Jacquie so they can both be rich. In the first movie, the giant block that fell nearly killed both Linnet and Simon. But in this version, SIMON LITERALLY SAVES HER LIFE BY PULLING HER OUT OF THE PATH OF BEING CRUSHED? HOW DOES THIS EVEN MAKE ANY FUCKING SENSE?!? HE SAVES HER SO HE CAN MURDER HER LATER? It's like... I don't even know what to think of this any more. Why not just push her into the path of the stone? This is dumb.
  • Absolutely nothing from Russell Brand's Dr. Besner. I guess once they announced that he was engaged to Linnet, his motive has been made and that's the end of it..
  • And when it comes to Louise, there was one offhand comment about her once being engaged. But her entire motive is missing. In the original film, Linnet was shown to be an awful person. It was no wonder she was murdered. The reason her maid, Louise, hated her was because Linnet refused a dowry because she had the fiancé investigated and didn't like what she found.
  • God. Then they make Poroit a creeper who takes Rosalie's journal. Something that was not a mistake. And the only reason he would have done that was to learn more about her aunt. STALKER MUCH? And it's like... WHY?!?
  • This movie would rather spend time doing anything except advancing the murder plot along. What does Poroit's tragedy have to do with anything? Anything at all? They could have been developing characters and foreshadowing murder motives. But nope!
  • "You were the only one who never cared about the money." Which is true I think. But boy did Simon care about the money.
  • This whole performance-as-an-alibi ordeal is entirely over-the-top, and yet it's understated compared to the original movie? How did THAT happen?
  • Russell Brand gets to speak!
  • And now, half-way though the movie, the murder finally happens. Gotta get their money's worth out of Gal Gadot's paycheck, I guess. Maybe it only seemed like it happened earlier in the first movie?
  • Simon's a great actor. He's even fooling the great Hercule Poirot!
  • So here we are... panning across all the suspects... and yet there's nothing to make you believe that any of them actually did it. In the original film, you have reason to believe that all of them were capable of killing her by now. AS IT SHOULD BE! This is awful.
  • See... and here we are finding out after the fact that people have motive to kill Linnet. And being sloppy about it. Poirot is drawing attention to Louise's story in a way that spoils a future plot point. The interrogation of Dr. Besner and his absurd past relationship with Linnet (it feels tacked-on BECAUSE IT IS).
  • WHAT. THE. FUCK? They are not doing reenactments to show how each person could have been the murderer? THAT'S THE BEST PART! It makes the viewer feel as though anybody could have been the murderer, because that's the way the story was designed! The first movie was absolutely masterful at the reenactments, which made it a truly great adaptation. This is absurd. The movie has gone from a C to a C- now.
  • Jennifer Sunders is Linnet's goddaughter? AND her servant Dawn French is her lover? How progressive to retroactively add lesbians to Agatha Christie's story.
  • So... Salome's motive for murder... is that when Linnet was a little girl she got her kicked out of the pool for being Black? At least they dismissed it immediately with the truth. If Salome Otterbourne were to kill everybody who was racist against her, she'd be a mass-murderer.
  • Gawd. In the original movie Bette Davis coveted Linnets pearl necklace, and her motivation for murder was to steal them. Her murder reenactment is LEGEND. This movie utterly fails in this. The necklace is found in in Annette Benning's stuff. In the original they were found on Linnet's corpse. SO much more dramatic!
  • Okay then. Poroit was not back in Egypt to spy on his old friend Bouc at the request of his mother Annette Benning. And that's why he took Leticia Wright's diary. Well, I suppose that's a little better. Not quite so stalkerish.
  • Louise is dead. And though her trajectory and purpose in the story is the same, they really sabotaged the impact of it by having Poroit draw attention to it before the story needed to. Yet another pity in a long line of pity.
  • Fight! Fight! Unnecessary fight! And an unnecessary flashback for Poroit. Eyeroll.
  • And now Bouc is a suspect. This is just absurd. In the original movie Colonel Race was a support system and sounding board to Poroit throughout the investigation. What we have here is just nonsense. Poroit is mad at Bouc for lying to him about finding Linnet dead and stealing the necklace and witnessing Louise's murder and not telling him about it. Which is a heck of a take given how Poroit was only there to spy on him and had been lying to him the entire time.
  • They killed Bouc! Guess that Tom Bateman won't be in any more sequels. This is just rubbish. More drama to heap on Poroit instead of focusing on the story. In the original film, it was Salome Otterbourne who witnessed Louise's murder and got shot... square in the middle of her forehead! I can't believe how utterly bonkers this version of the story is.
  • God. Overly-dramatic much? Locking everybody in the room and stopping the ship so Poroit can have his moment? This just keeps getting worse and worse.
  • They kept Cousin Andrew as the guy who pushed the giant block on Linnet... only for her to be saved by Simon. But it plays as absolute nonsense this time around.
  • In the original film, Simon used Linnet's red nail polish to fake blood from being shot. This time it was Annette Benning's paint. In the original this provided a clue. But in this movie? I have no idea. Sloppy. Why change something that works? And the bloody "J" that was left at the murder scene is absent this time around, which drops a cool point... THE ENTIRE WAY THAT THE MURDER WAS COMMITTED WAS TO THROW ALL SUSPICION ON JAQUIE SINCE SHE HAD AN AIR-TIGHT ALIBI!
  • Now making the focus of the murder reveal be... Poroit with this emotion over Bouc? This movie didn't think ANYTHING through, did it?
  • Ugh. Even the murder/suicide was handled so much better in the first movie. I've replayed the scene several times, and her arm suddenly ending up aimed at both of them through Simon's back never lines up. It all makes no sense. And would such a tiny gun/bullet even penetrate both of them like this? In the original, Jacquie shoots Simon, pays her respects to Poroit, then shoots herself. It was so much more satisfying. This was just so... meh.
  • SO AWKWARD. Everybody has to make an awkward pause while disembarking so they can have a moment with Poroit. And we're robbed of Bette Davis and her classic line "This boat is beginning to resemble a mortuary!"
  • And since this movie is all about Poroit instead of the mystery, here he is pining away over Salome Otterbourne... clean-shaven! And, yep, no way his mustache was covering that. I can only guess that Salome Otterbourne will be murdered in the next movie and drive the plot with an angsty Poroit, who grows his mustache back. Because why not? These films are all about Poroit, and the murders themselves are incidental.
  • Ugh. This movie should probably be graded a D because it's such a step down from the 1978 version... but it did have a great cast and excellent visuals, so I guess a C- it shall be.
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