Murder Ahoy! Review


Time for the final Marple movie in this era. This time we’re on a boat which is definitely the most drastic change in scenery yet. It’s a fun way to end the adventure with the commander of the ship being one of the most interesting suspects in the whole series. Mix in the solid fundamentals we’ve come to expect in this series and you’ve got a winning film on your hands.

The movie starts with a meeting of the trustees for a nearby battleship. Marple is here of course and throughout the whole meeting one of the trustees is trying to say something but nobody will listen. Finally it’s his time to speak and unfortunately he dies before he can say what was on his mind. Marple knows that it was something serious though and the answers are aboard the boat. She manages to gain access as a trustee but the crew wants her to leave immediately. Marple will have to solve this case before they throw her overboard but any one of these sailors could be the culprit.

As mentioned, I enjoyed the captain quite a bit. He is used to being king of the vessel and so having someone with her rank here diminishes that quite a bit. Additionally, he had to give her his room so now he is stuck with a smaller one. Throw in the murders aboard the ship and it seems like she is ruining his life. He needs to get her out of here but she effectively outranks him so that will be difficult as well. The Captain is in quite the jam you could say.

Meanwhile she also has to watch out for the Inspector who has never been crazier. He even wants to arrest her at one point but his boss prevents this from happening. The Inspector doesn’t even want to here her side of the story and is convinced that Marple is not going to be very helpful here. Clearly the guy doesn’t really keep track of his own adventures because that just doesn’t make any sense. His promotion was only thanks to her after all.

Still, he’s the best character as per usual here because he just makes for such a good antagonist. You know he will lose at the end but he definitely gives her a good run at times. Springer also gets to help out here in his most dangerous role yet. Having to stay up all night and evade the police isn’t exactly an easy task to do. He goes to great lengths to help Marple and ends up being a very loyal friend.

As for Marple herself, well this time she gets to put her sword skills to good use. It was a nice way to see her turn the tables here since she now has a whole lot of ways to defend herself. It was an impressive battle and while she would lose in the end, at least she wasn’t going to make things easy on the guy. She is always coming up with plans and even out smarts the captain at one point. Marple’s a very solid all around character and works well as the lead.

There are quite a few suspects here as always. You have one lady who is playing the field as she leads two guys on at once. You have the two guys who naturally dislike each other as a result and you have the 2nd in command. Any which one of them might have a secret aboard the ship but it’s hard to say who without some more evidence. Additionally, this is a boat where they are training a lot of cadets so Marple needs to be discreet or she will arouse everyone’s suspicions as she walks around.

You’ve still got the quality soundtrack here as well as the tight writing. The fun thing about the series like this back in the day were that they came out so often that each film feels really similar. All 4 films act in the same way with the only difference being the storylines. So if you liked one film then you would like them all and it was a safe bet to just check out the whole series. You don’t really see that as much now as usually a series will change things up in each installment. The Murder series is really a product of its time in that respect.

There’s something nice about seeing the characters and just enjoying a new adventure with them each time. This series really got that down to a T. There is a bit of a rushed romance subplot at the very end of the movie which comes across as odd but I suppose it gave the captain the end of his character arc. It would have been nice if he hadn’t damaged the sword in the process though. Even if it wasn’t as important as he tried to act, it was just a shame to see it go like that.

Now, while he was fun, I do think he dug most of his own troubles up. He wanted Marple to go and yet he is the one who offered her a chance to stay. I know it was just him pretending to be polite but even the rest of his team had to let him know that this was super sloppy. If he had said almost anything else then Marple would have had to force her way in and the optics would have been really different. By pulling this stunt it just made her job a lot easier.

Overall, Murder Ahoy! is a solid way to end things off. For once even Springer actually got to help in the climax which was nice. Surely this time the Inspector can’t ignore Marple but if we had gotten more sequels I’m sure he would have found a way to do so. If you like a good mystery film then this is a good one to check out as well as the first 3 films. They’re all rather stand alone with the Inspector’s promotion being the only reference to the older films. The movie is over very quickly and I have no real complaints. It’s just a pleasant mystery title to check out.

Overall 7/10

Murder, She Said Review


It’s time for my first Miss Marple film. I definitely am not too knowledgeable about her compared to the other detectives around but the film was quite solid. It has really high quality writing as you would expect from these retro mysteries and I also thought it took a rather unique take on the genre. As an elderly woman, Marple has to be careful when solving these mysteries that she isn’t put in imminent danger.

The movie starts out with Marple noticing someone get strangled on a train. She reports this to the conductor but he doesn’t believe her and the cops don’t but it either. What are the odds that she could have truly seen such a murder from a different train at high speeds? Making matters worse is the fact that she was reading a murder mystery so everyone figures she lost her mind. Her only friend Stringer believes her but what can they do about it?

Well, the two of them do some poking around the train site and manage to figure out that the main suspicious location is a nearby manor. Marple gets herself hired as a maid and now she will be able to do some sleuthing with plenty of time to spare. There was a recent death in the family so now everyone is getting ready to get the money so you can probably guess who the suspects are. Every person in this family is absolutely a suspect so Marple will have to do her best to find the right person before she is murdered. Fortunately she will have the aid of a very inquisitive kid.

Another difference with the Marple series compared to most is that she will always get herself hired or involved in the location itself. This requires actually getting a job in several instances like this so she has to find clues between shifts. As a maid she is kept quite busy but does really well even considering that she is older at this point and not very fit either.

Miss Marple is not running low on confidence though and gets a lot of good lines throughout. She isn’t intimidated by these suspects in the slightest and just keeps on going as she normally would. She’s very methodical about getting the clues as well and does a good job of slowly tightening the noose around the villains.

Then there’s the kid although I can’t find his name anywhere. Needless to say, I was quite impressed with him as the kid was actually not annoying for a change. This is very rare for a kid since they tend to drag each scene down. This guy actually had some wit about him though and also didn’t desert Marple when they were nearly caught. He’s fairly brave as well and even knows how to scare people off. This is exactly the way I’d like to see all the kids look and it’s certainly a credit to the film’s writing.

While the Inspector would go on to get much bigger roles in the next few films, this was a good debut appearance for him. He certainly doesn’t believe Marple theories much but it isn’t yet personal in this film. He just has his own way of doing things and doesn’t want to be slowed down all the time. As long as he learns his lesson in the next films then he won’t look bad but….we’ll see how that goes. He’s always entertaining to have around though.

As for Springer, he’s a lot more cautious than Marple. She really ends up causing him a lot of stress throughout because of her dangerous tasks. It’s not like he can just walk in and help her out if anything happens either so that wears him down. I like his enthusiasm though as he will always try to help out even if he has absolutely no idea what is going on. He had a fairly good job at the library too but is ready to drop everything when she needs help.

As for the actual case, it goes pretty well. There are just enough family members/suspects that it’s hard to remember just about any of their names but they’re all suitably suspicious. You could close your eyes and just pick any with how incriminating all of their dialogue is. It makes for a strong opening case to start the series out. I would say there are enough clues where you can try to complete the case on your own as well.

There are always a few extra wrinkles thrown in to trick the police so you’ll have to watch out for those as well. In a way it’s a good chance to see if your theory is right because if the inspector says that this is what happened…you know that it did not. A shame certainly but that’s just how it goes since you know Marple will be the one to bring out the right theory.

Mysteries can come in many shapes and forms. You can have a very serious one, a fast paced thriller, etc. This one is more of a slow boil mystery that’s quite light hearted and it works well. Marple wants to help make the world a better place and sure there are murders and everything so this is serious but the movie has a lot of happy music throughout which is why I’d consider it fairly cheerful. Marple even has her own theme which will continue to play in the next few films as well.

You also get to see her life around the town a bit. She sips some tea while discussing the case with her friend and it’s all rather peaceful. It’s s calming environment which likely helps her focus and collect her thoughts. You’d barely believe that a murder just happened but it’s this hybrid of serious and calm moments that really makes the series work. I wouldn’t say it matches up to Sherlock Holmes or Poirot but I would take it above Nancy Drew and most iterations of the Hardy Boys.

Overall, Murder, She Said is a good way to start things off. It’s always fun to see the opening movie in a series so you can see which characters and running gags will continue. The writing is definitely on point and the films have good pacing. You won’t be bored while this is going on and it all moves in a very brisk manner. I’ll have a review up for the first sequel shortly.

Overall 7/10

Murder on the Orient Express Review


Murder on the Orient Express is definitely a classic book turned into movie format that was a lot of fun in its original version and keeps the same level of quality in the remake. It’s a pretty faithful adaption as while it does take liberties it doesn’t do anything that drastically changes the outcome or the way that the story unfolds. If anything the first change helps legitimize Poirot as a great detective who can predict the actions of the villains pretty well. We didn’t actually see much of that in the original version and had to take their words for it. I mean, he did solve the main case so we know that he is good, but seeing him solve a real case at the beginning was a really good move.

The plot of the film is about the world renown detective known as Poirot who is finally on vacation after having solved a bunch of tough cases. He is interrupted though when a case pops up overseas so he quickly snags a ride on the Orient Express. Once aboard however it turns out that a new case is on the horizon and this may be the most difficult one yet. A bunch of suspicious characters are aboard this train and they all have secret agendas. They all insist on lying to Poirot directly as well which doesn’t make his job any easier. He needs to solve this case fast since the train will be up and running again within 2 hours which isn’t really all that helpful to him.

Poirot is definitely a fun main character. He definitely is very smart and I’m glad that he isn’t afraid to admit it as he even states for the record that he is the greatest detective in the entire world. That’s quite the claim and I like how bold he is. Poirot also shows that he has kept in shape despite being quite old at this point as he chases someone across the train tracks outdoors and actually manages some pretty good jumps and agility. It may be a bit of a stretch, but I guess if he uses his tactics to know where to jump and how to corner the opponent it is a little more believable. I’m guessing he found out about the money stealing himself in the original or it was just admitted instead of actually chasing the man down, but either way works pretty well.

One thing I always have to give credit to the film with is that they don’t go into the actual murder case much. It’s a pretty dark case for sure so we just need to know of its existence, not any actual details. That would certainly be a jumping the shark moment for the film so I have no qualms with this part. It also gives everyone a pretty good motive here so that makes them all good suspects. Even if the ending might be well known I won’t spoil it here in case you don’t know about it.

Now, I guess the question is how you feel about the ending? I definitely agree with Poirot’s initial response which is that there is good and evil and ultimately the guilty party made a choice. There is nothing left to do but to take this to the cops. Taking revenge is a pleasure in itself so of course it makes sense that this would come with some kind of repercussions. They may have felt justified about this in the end but it doesn’t change anything about how the action was wrong. 2 wrongs don’t make a right after all and that’s one of those facts that cannot be changed. So, my view on the ending is that the guilty party should be arrested and that’s the end of that. On that note the ending isn’t all that satisfactory, but it wouldn’t hurt the score all that much. Now, if the villains had actually destroyed a few more people or something then that would have been an issue. I also think Poirot should be holding a little more of a grudge considering that the doctor was very close to murdering him in the end. It’s fortunate that Poirot’s friend was here.

Poirot’s friend certainly was the best character in the film. He came through when it counted and really felt dependable. He got Poirot a seat on the train last minute like he said that he would and was just a great backup the whole time. It would have been extremely difficult if Poirot had been on his own so even having just one person around to help him out was absolutely crucial.

The location looks pretty good as the scenery of the mountains is quite realistic and I do like the scenery. After seeing a bunch of films take place in hot environments the cold is a great contrast. I’ve always been a bigger fan of the cold as well so naturally that appeals to me more in films as well. The actual train looks quite refined as well and while I am not a fan of taking a train overnight like this I wouldn’t mind on this one as long as the Wifi is good. The food should really be complimentary if you ask me instead of purchasing everything once aboard. Of course, I’m sure that this is how the railroad makes the bulk of their money.

Usually I would talk a bit about the suspects, but they don’t really stand out all that much. There are so many of them that each suspect only gets one scene to themselves for the most part. Of course with a train this big it makes sense that there would be a bunch of suspects. If anything I have to question how there aren’t more suspects running around. They did say that the train was filled to capacity after all and I feel like a lot more people would have fit on the train based on how large it was. Perhaps that is just how it was back in those days though as adding more people would potentially sour the experience.

Overall, Murder on the Orient Express is a solid remake. Fans of the mystery genre will certainly enjoy it even if everyone probably already knows the ending at this point. It’s fun seeing everyone try to give Poirot the run around. There is even a teaser for the sequel at the end of the movie which should be interesting since I am not familiar with any of the other Poirot books. It’ll be tough for the Nile to top this film, but maybe it can pull it off. The thing is, this film didn’t really make any actual mistakes which makes it tough for a sequel to possibly top it since not making a mistake is incredibly difficult. Of course I would still recommend you watch the original version first, but both are very close overall.

Overall 8/10

Murder on the Orient Express Review


It’s time for a mystery thriller from Agatha Christie. And Then There Were None is still her best work as it’s a perfect example of how a murder thriller should go. While this one couldn’t quite match that master piece, it’s a very solid film and one that you should add to your repertoire. With all of the suspects boxed in on the train, it’s the perfect scenario for Detective Poirot. Still, he’ll have to work fast since the snow won’t last forever.

Poirot was enjoying a very peaceful train ride and was off duty for a change. He hadn’t expected to have any problems, but then a dead body is found. He quickly begins to deduce that there was something more to the victim than it would appear. Poirot also decides to interview all of the suspects and there were certainly a bunch. First is Harriet, a bold woman who loves to voice her opinions and is constantly chattering. She has something to say about everything so it is difficult to actually find out what she knows. Next is Hector, the secretary of the deceased. He is fairly mild mannered and always nervous. Then there’s Beddoes, a seemingly perfect butler who is always ready to answer politely. He was close to the deceased and delivers the nightly wine. Princess Natalia may be rather old, but that would also make it easier for her to do something while staying inconspicuous. She has a maid named Hildegarde who has served the master faithfully for many years so maybe it was all for this moment. Diplomat Rudolf and his wife Elena appear to be rather quiet for most of the journey. Rudolf does blow up whenever someone talks to him though so are his nerves cracking or are they both quiet because they know something? Mary, the teacher is around as well and her scholarly knowledge could be sinister. The Missionary Greta always seems rather timid and doesn’t know English too well, but is it all an act? There’s also Antonio, a car salesman and one of the only reasonable people here. He’s loud and bold and certainly isn’t nervous like the rest of the passengers. He’s ready to help the country and that could be suspicious. Finally, there’s the actor Cyrus. He always seems to fade into the background and that may not be an accident. We also can’t forget Poirot’s friend Signor. Sometimes friends aren’t as innocent as they appear to be. Poirot has a lot of suspects to flip through so this’ll be tough.

I love a good mystery and the whole film is about that. Poirot’s interrogation of every member is pretty fun as he grills them. Since most of the riders are either lying or hiding something, it really does make his job very difficult. The only co-operative guy was the car salesman who also happened to be the best character in the film. It’s no coincidence as I was glad to see someone being at least a little co-operative. Perhaps he was a little too eager so that makes him suspicious as well, but something to think about for sure.

The pacing is pretty tight here. The opening which shows a crime in progress is fairly short. It just gives you enough time to see each of the characters and then we are quickly taken to the train. Once at the train, it never feels like the movie is dragging on. While the mystery doesn’t start immediately, it gives you a chance to learn about each of the characters and gauge the reactions of each when things finally start. Naturally in any good thriller, you know not to pay too much attention to the reactions though. The guilty party is typically an expert and can feign any reaction somehow.

I was pretty satisfied with the ending. It’s not really a cop-out or anything like that. It’s probably not an ending I would want to see all that much as it would then start to feel like one, but done sparingly like this it works well enough. We’ll see if you can end up guessing what happened.

The underlying story in the prologue is fairly dark, but fortunately the film doesn’t go into it much. It was handled optimally as you know enough to understand the situation, but the film doesn’t go over details or try too hard for the edgy angle. It’s something that I hope the modern remake is taking notes on. The writing is quite good as you likely have suspected. I don’t know how strict of an adaption it was from the book, but I suspect that the writing is rather similar. All of the characters are sophisticated and it makes for multi layered dialogue as a characters says one thing and means the other. It results in everyone trying to manipulate one another.

If there’s one character who’s rather annoying (Aside from the guy who died rather instantly) it would be the missionary who has a hard time speaking English. Her scene dragged on for quite a while and it can be hard to get what she is saying. Moreover, it feels like what she is saying doesn’t actually matter. I’m sure it was relevant in some way as Poirot explained everything at the end and went into great detail with each member. It was probably relevant, but it didn’t feel like it was and I forget what part of it helped solve the case. I would have chopped that scene a little. Still, that’s really my only complaint with the film so you can tell that this is quite a solid one.i

Overall, The mystery genre is a tough one. I personally think it is one of the toughest ones to write and maybe it is The toughest one. Coming up with a good mystery sounds difficult and that’s probably why I enjoy reading them so much. It may be the best genre next to action, but it’s one that has to be handled delicately. Case Closed is an example of an excellent one. The only pitfall that they have is that the mystery only works once. They don’t have much replay value because when you watch it again, you already know the ending. It’s why the remake coming up should tread carefully. Granted, you won’t actually know if it’s the same ending until you’re at the end of the film so maybe it won’t matter all that much. Regardless, if you haven’t seen this film, I’d suggest changing that right away. It’s aged quite well and makes for an engaging watch.

Overall 8/10

Ten Little Indians Review

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I saw the original adaption of the novel a while back and it was pretty good. I’d say that this film was also enjoyable and at about the same level even though it was clearly not as good as the original. Just about anything that this film could do, the older one could do better. I do wonder how a more modern adaption of this film would go, no doubt it would probably not be as good. That being said, I’d love to see an ensemble cast try to tackle this film. We could have Tom Cruise, Matt Damon, Chris Pratt, Arnie, Chuck Norris, and whoever else is super popular at the moment. It would be an interesting mix of personalities, which is why ensemble films are typically so fun.

As you may expect, ten people are invited to a mysterious place over on a mountain. The host invited everyone over on false pretenses, but once the ten arrive at the mansion he is nowhere to be seen. Instead they listen to a recording which exposes their previous murders and the characters start to die off one by one in ways that are very similar to how the 10 little Indians went out in a poem. Can they figure out which person among them is actually the nefarious host or are they all doomed to simply fade away into oblivion?

I quickly have to mention one big change from the first film which wasn’t cool. The original adaption had a fisherman who drove everyone to the island. The first adaption ended with him walking up slowly to the mansion while eating a sandwich. It was a humorous way to end the murder thriller and you could tell that this was someone that you didn’t mess with. Even the murderer wanted nothing to do with him. Unfortunately, this version took place on a mountain so there was no boat ride to begin with. A bit of a missed opportunity if you ask me.

As I mentioned earlier, there are other aspects where this film isn’t as good. For starters, we have Mike. He was a decent character in the first film and a music guy who may not have had much of a personality, but it wasn’t a bad one. Here, he’s only interested in romance and just staring at another character who rejects him. It’s a negative change that just doesn’t work for me here. It’s not like most of the characters are that good anyway though. I’m not a fan of any character in particular at this point, but better to be a non character than a bad one right?

This film was slightly modernized though, which wasn’t a good thing. The romance isn’t handled as well as in the first film where it was pretty much nonexistence. Here, the characters are very quick to forget the danger and engage in their romance, but it’s not fitting considering the situation. As such, Ann and Hugh aren’t very likable characters. Hugh is the James Bond kind of guy who talks a good game and even has a gun for most of the film. It’s simply not enough to make him a cool character since this isn’t the time to flirt. Likewise, Ann is just as guilty and makes the situation harder for everyone by being very cryptic about her backstory. Just saying it would have saved the characters some time and the way that she gets scared by everything is a bit much as well.

The actress is all right I suppose, but she doesn’t add much to the story either. She’s probably also the least apologetic about her backstory, which came across as a little drastic. The main characters who were pretty likable where the old folks. It’s not too surprising as they engage in most of the witty banter and try to keep each other from making any hasty moves. The detective also keeps everyone in check as he does have some useful professional experience at his disposal.

Ultimately, it’s pretty intriguing to see all of the characters go down one by one. Granted, you have to suspend your disbelief as the film goes on. Why does nobody think to simply stake out the room where the Indian figures keep disappearing? Even once the culprit is found out…or to be more precise, the fact that the culprit is revealed to be just one person makes it a little harder to swallow. This person shouldn’t be able to move so quickly and evade everyone with such precision. I’m just not sure that I buy that. Of course, you don’t need to buy it to enjoy the film.

Another change from the first film is an extended fight scene where one of the butlers goes into a frenzy and attacks Hugh. It’s pretty interesting as this pretty much came out of nowhere. Unfortunately, the fight scene isn’t that good, but you will be surprised at how many times the fight stops and then starts again. The cheap shots just won’t stop, but there is a winner in the end so that’s good. The other characters (for the most part) talk tough about how they shouldn’t have fought, but Hugh wasn’t exactly given a choice so it’s good that he took the win. The butler then decided to leave the mountain on his own, which was probably one of the worst decisions that he could have made.

I will give the ending props for still coming across as fairly realistic. The plan was sound and I actually wouldn’t call it out for being unrealistic or full of plot hax. When you think about it, this film was thought out fairly well and while some plot hax is inevitable, it was a fun mystery from start to finish with no real cop outs. You just have to choose which character you think is guilty and then go on from there. I always like films like that since you can just make your pick and enjoy the film. If you were right, then it’s time to buy a snack afterwards. Of course, I knew who it was this time since I saw the original, but I imagine that a lot of people will only see one version of the film.

Overall, Ten Little Indians isn’t quite as good as the original adaption. The increased romance, the characters being less likable, and the fight scene actually being sub par kept it from reaching the same status as the original. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a good film, but it’s just not as good. It follows the original quite closely even down to the script aside from these changes so it is still a good movie, but why not watch the original instead right? These classic mystery thrillers are definitely intense and black and white does fit in quite nicely for it. You can tell that this film is retro even though it was a little modernized. I’d be interested to see a 2010 or later remake, but I can tell that it probably wouldn’t be great. Something to think about though and this plot is certainly one that can easily be reused in a completely different context while still being effective. Make it happen Hollywood!

Overall 6/10