Death on the Nile
★★☆☆☆
Since his 1996 Hamlet, Kenneth Branagh has been using the 70mm format to create some of the gaudiest, most artificial looking images ever made for the big screen. His latest overproduced, candy-colored, all-star literary adaptation is no exception. If he shot this on location in Egypt you'd never know it; it contains as many obvious green-screen shots as The Phantom Menace. Branagh brings as much empty swagger to his direction as to his interpretation of Agatha Christie’s moustachioed Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. His busy camera swoops, booms and darts around the set, even diving under the digital water to show us CGI fish and other cartoon animals.

The real joy in a Christie adaptation is spending downtime with glamourous, elaborately costumed stars playing her exaggerated characters. We need to be with them while they're just sitting around in order to appreciate their personalities, observe their behaviours, and soak up the setting. We just can't do that while flying along the side of the boat with the camera every few minutes. 

The 1978 John Guillermin/Anthony Shaffer adaptation of this novel was far from a masterpiece, but the cast was a lot more credible and enjoyable. No one in this version gives a bad performance, but neither do they persuasively inhabit their characters. The movie is all shiny surfaces with nothing of substance underneath. Oh well, at least the fake boat looks a little more plausible than the fake train in Branagh's 2017 Murder on the Orient Express.

Twitter Capsule:
Branagh's latest overproduced, all-star literary adaptation continues his grand tradition of making 70mm films in which every shot looks like a laptop screen saver. Cast inhabits the setting (and the characters) about as credibly as in a CGI superhero movie.

Directed by Kenneth Branagh
Produced by Ridley Scott, Kevin J. Walsh, Kenneth Branagh, and Judy Hofflund

Screenplay by Michael Green
Based on the novel by Agatha Christie

With: Kenneth Branagh, Tom Bateman, Annette Bening, Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Russell Brand, Ali Fazal, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Rose Leslie, Emma Mackey, Sophie Okonedo, and Letitia Wright

Cinematography: Haris Zambarloukos
Editing: Úna Ní Dhonghaíle
Music: Patrick Doyle

Runtime: 127 min
Release Date: 11 February 2022
Aspect Ratio: 2.39 : 1
Color