Murder On The Orient Express (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

I’ve long been a fan of the works of Agatha Christie, either through actually reading one of the books or checking out an adaptation of one I hadn’t put my eyes to text with.  In terms of movie-going, when the trailer dropped for this Kenneth Branagh film, it had an interesting approach to it, but it also looked like both something we have seen in a long time and also like nothing else out there. People agreed as this one was sort of the poor man’s Greatest Showman as this was released during a time when Thor: Ragnarok, Justice League, Daddy’s Home 2, Wonder and Coco were also making some good money (Technically Justice League was making some decent money, they just spent too much on it). With solid reviews and obviously a terrific audience reception, it looks as if we’ll be moving forward with another film in the near future with classic Christie protagonist Hercule Poirot. You can check out this case on the train of his when it releases to 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray, February 27.


A lavish trip through Europe quickly unfolds into a race against time to solve a murder aboard a train. When an avalanche stops the Orient Express dead in its tracks, the world’s greatest detective — Hercule Poirot — arrives to interrogate all passengers and search for clues before the killer can strike again.

Murder On The Orient Express is a fun, swift adaptation of one of Agatha Christie’s seminal novels and characters. Its filled with a fun, recognizable cast, terrific production values and a feel of elegance in its cinematography.  Oddly, the film kinda suffers from setting expectations, living up to those expectations and not really much else. From the trailer, it gave a sense of “Eh, this looks pretty solid”. And then the film delivered on being solid, which is fine, and  that’s it. For me, I’ll call that a winner, but for many others, because it didn’t go beyond said expectation, and in our climate of BEST EVER and WORST EVER with no in between, people will hump it onto being with the latter. Which is a shame.

Branagh may not be a fit for an American agent/spy, but bringing an Agatha Christie murder mystery to life is right in her wheelhouse. And he can make a sorta franchise of bringing these books to life and have them succeed in today’s “tentpole or go home” climate, I’ll be very happy. As mentioned, he approaches the look to the film with a dark sense of grace and elegance that feels like he really has an understanding of the material and the time period with which it was written and takes place. There have been a few adaptations of this story already through film and television, but his really feels like a big screen experience.

Most appealing of all is seeing this cast that has been put together in the film. I was excited to view Daisy Ridley in her first post-The Force Awakens film release. She’s solid here and I can’t wait to see her career take off following her trilogy’s conclusion. Michelle Pfeiffer had a rather nice comeback last year with strong turns in this and mother! (She could pick up and play Catwoman again tomorrow, the ageless wonder!).  Josh Gad, who I started off on him as not caring much for as an actor has really turned me around on him in the past couple years and I think he’ll really be more than “just Olaf”. Branagh of course is the star, and does himself a terrific Poirot with a full “all-in” turn. And I know nobody wants to mention him, but I actually though Johnny Depp was the best he’d been in years in this film.

For those who don’t know this classic Christie story, you should be pretty decently engaged throughout. And if you know how it goes, I still think you’ll be finely entertained.  Branagh has brought to life a well harnessed adaptation of the mystery novel. In an era where this could have easily been something snagged by Netflix and put out there, I’m glad its proved to be a success on the big screen. If you’re selling something that people want to see, they’ll show up. This one had a unique, solid trailer, a fun cast, pandered to adults (but also wasn’t rated or made in harsher taste so that a family trip would be possible with older kids in tow) and didn’t look like everything else coming out every weekend. Overall, just a solid time at the movies. I’m looking forward to Death on the Nile.


Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Murder on the Orient Express comes to the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray format from Fox with a nice, fine, full looking picture. It was shot on 70mm film, with a 4K digital intermediate, and looks brilliant coming over to 4K. Instantly you’ll see this as a significant step up from the standard Blu-ray release (That glow from the blue credits helps). This picture features some breathtaking establishing shots and aerial snaps of the train through the mountains and boats traveling on the water, bursting with color and working like crack for your eyeballs. Details and textures via clothing, surfaces and more (Like dust or dabs of snow on the windows) look crisp almost to the touch while have a lush sense of elegance in its artistry.

Depth:  Spacing of foreground and background are quite good here. Any time they are outdoors and inside the big train station at the opening, there is almost a three dimensional feel to the image. Movements are rather smooth and natural with no distortions.

Black Levels: This is a terrific film for the use of blacks on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray. Its a rather dark set film on a train and the saturation of blacks shines through. Textures, details and more hold strong through clothes, hair and surfaces. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: The colors here are very natural but rich in their appearance. Whites via eggshell, snow or paper are quite impressive in tint and texture. HDR comes into play with some gorgeous sky shots, fire and the blue credit text to name a few things.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and maintain a consistent appearance for the entire duration of the film. Facial features like stubble, blemishes, makeup, lip texture, scars and more are visible clear as day from any given distance.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean


Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible), English 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio Description, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 DTS

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Dynamics: Fox brings Murder On The Orient Express to the Atmos realm with terrific precision. While its not some overt action joint, it truly has some fine dynamics on display. The effects, the environments, are all well rounded, layered and very much invite you onto the train. There is a terrific balance here between the vocals, effects and score which all get opportunities to shine and never overlap onto one another.

Height: Steam coming from the train engine, snow avalanching from above, ambiance and many other appropriate sounds emanate from the ceiling speakers.

Low Frequency Extension: Doors slamming, gunfire, the train roaring, the avalanche and other rumbles and tumbles get a bump from the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: Every environment in the film, outdoors or inside different rooms of the train feels lived in and accurate. All speakers are active and emote a strong ambiance as well as great movement and unique contributions based on direction.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp. Everyone’s diction is well captured and presented in this fine mix.


Murder On The Orient Express comes with the standard Blu-ray edition and a digital copy of the film. Aside from the commentary, all bonus materials are found on the standard Blu-ray disc.

4K Ultra-HD Disc

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Kenneth Branagh and Screenwriter Michael Green

Blu-ray Disc

Agatha Christie: An Intimate Portrait (HD, 19:03) – Starting with an audio clip of Agatha Christie discussing her skills, this is an appreciation segment with her grandson, great grandson, biography authors, authors continuing her work, Kenneth Branagh and Johnny Depp. They go over a bit of her personal history and the books she wrote.

Let’s Talk About Hercule Poirot (HD, 9:54) – Featuring audio clips of Christie, this tells the tale of one of her most famous detectives and how he was originally meant for one book.  Many of the same talking heads from the previous featurette discuss the characters in a solid overview.

Unusual Suspects – A three part featurette series focusing on the cast of the film.

  • Part One (HD, 5:08) 
  • Part Two (HD, 5:56) 
  • Part Three (HD, 6:49) 

The Art of Murder (HD, 16:23) – This segment focuses on grabbing the rights, getting Branagh on board and bringing the book to life with its set and costume design through research and attention to accurate details which Johnny Depp (Having traveled on the real life Orient Express) was impressed with.

All Aboard: Filming Murder on the Orient Express (HD, 16:35) – Here we go over shooting the film, working with Branagh, the special effects and vision on bringing the film to life. There were some really fun, old school special effects put to use on the film as well as some good digital work as well. Lots of discussion happens on making this movie a “full experience”.

Music of Murder (HD, 7:31) – The film’s composer goes over his work on the film and gets down to some scene specifics, inspirations and ideas in his process on the movie.

Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary (HD, 16:40)

Theatrical Trailers (HD, 3:36) 

Gallery (HD, 3:03)


Murder on the Orient Express delivers exactly what is sets out to do in being a solid adult murder mystery film.  Fox’s 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray release of the film showcases a very nice bump up from the standard Blu-ray edition. Both the video and audio on the film are of top notch quality for the format. Via the Blu-ray disc included, you also receive all bonus material, which proves to be quite breezy and fun.  Fans of the film and Agatha Christie are getting a strong release with this 4K Ultra-HD title.

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