Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Tom Bateman, Armie Hammer, Gal Gadot,Emma Mackey, Leticia Wright, Sophie Okenedo, Annette Bening, Rose Leslie, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, and Russell Brand.
Directed By: Kenneth Branagh
Where I Watched it: HBO MAX (without audio description), On Demand (with audio description), it’s also on Hulu (without audio description).
English Audio Description Available?: If you’re willing to pay for it, instead of relying on your existing streaming subscriptions.
Narration Provided By: Deluxe
Narrated By: Matthew Vickers
The Plot: Based on Agatha Christie’s best selling novel of the same name, we once again find Poiroit (Branagh) investigating a death. This time, it’s on the Nile. When a woman of means (Gadot) finds her true love in. A man who has no means (Hammer), who also just happens to be formerly engaged to her best friend turned stalker (Mackey), the best thing to do is to invite several people with you on your honeymoon, and make sure at least one of them is the world’s greatest detective. After all, if he can find the murderer on a train, surely he can find one on a boat, right?
What Works: Having seen this film a second time with audio description, after relentlessly pursuing HBO MAX and Hulu to upload something that already exists to no avail, I’m grateful that i did. I actually originally wrote a review for this film based on my first experience with the film being unwatchable, and it was up for about five minutes before I felt bad for giving it a failing grade. It’s not the cast and crew’s fault that HBO MAX and Hulu suck.
While I have many strong beliefs that we should have accessibility and equality with regards to having titles audio described, and that audio description being attached to the title regardless of where it goes (on demand, DVD, streaming, cable, etc.) so everyone always has access to the originally produced audio description that was created by the film studio responsible for the film, that’s just my Never Neverland.
Instead, i have to track it down, despite paying a combined 30 dollars a month for the two services that could have just made this title watchable for me. Trust me, it’s not. There are a lot of clues you miss without audio description, visual cues that aren’t always explained in the dialogue. The beginning and end of the film actually hold a very special significance that you would only get if you could see, or had audio description.
As far as the film itself, it’s alright. The strongest parts are that the actors all do their best, despite most not being given much to do. This cast is too expansive to ever be attached to one person, but the acting is always on point. There’s just no standout performance here.
I also appreciate the attempt at building to something, by having the death not actually start until close to halfway through the movie, so we have time to meet all the characters at least a little, and know who is involved. Ultimately, I didn’t care about any of their fates, and the reveal at the end surprised me not. But, there were some choices made, and I’ll acknowledge that.
What Didn’t Work: Like I said, the large cast makes it hard to find your favorite, and Branagh takes up a lot of the screen time. He’s fine. He was fine in Orient Express too. it’s hard for me to jump up and down about this right after Belfast, which was terrific. But this is OK, if not at times mediocre. If he had hired lesser actors, the whole film wouldn’t work.
Like I said, don’t bother watching this without audio description. Too many visual cues missed.
The Blind Perspective: Honestly, after my experience the first time around, i was just so happy to have audio description that i was paying more attention to all of the things I missed, and less to the overall experience. I was very much able to follow the film more than the first time, so it must be solid description, and a British voice really helped this film with a cast full of accents.
Final Thoughts: Considering that you could just watch it likely as part of your subscriptions, it’s not good enough for me to say pay for it. But if you lack subscriptions anyway, and you are interested, maybe you’ll find enjoyment in it. It’s OK, but I doubt I’ll remember it a few years from now, despite now having seen this twice.
FINAL GRADE: C+