Comic/Book Adaptation, Films, Four and half Star Rating, Friday Film Chat

Friday Film Chat- ‘Murder on the Orient Express’

murder orient express

I have to confess, I have only read one Agatha Christie novel. Most of my knowledge of her work has been from TV adaptations of ‘Miss Marple’ and ‘Poirot’. Weirdly enough, I have never watched an adaptation of ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, so I went into the cinema with no idea of what this was about and who the murderer would be.

Actually the main reason why I wanted to watch this film was because of the plethora of stars in it. It features some impressive stars such as Johnny Depp, Daisy Ripley, Penelope Cruz, Shakespearean actor Derek Jacobi, Kenneth Branagh, who is also the director, Josh Gad, Michelle Pfeiffer, Leslie  Odom Jr, Williem Defoe, Olivia Coleman (one of my favourite tv actresses) and finally, Dame Judy Dench.

If Judy Dench is in this,‘ I reasoned’ it has to be good.’

I’m pleased to say, that this is a very good film.

The plot of this film revolves around Detective Hercule Poirot, the best detective in the world; his words, not mine, being called to solve a crime, in some far off place. He decides to make a bit of a holiday of it and manages to land a seat on ‘The Orient Express’, one of the most luxurious trains in the world. Good gig so far, right? Wrong.

During the journey, one of the passengers is murdered in his bed and it’s up to Poirot to find the murderer, whilst the train is stuck in a snow drift.

One of the things I loved the most about this film, was the look of it. It is beautiful. From the stunning views of the mountains from the train, to the interior of train itself, this is a feast for the eye. I didn’t know a mostly motionless train could be filmed in such an interesting way!


Something that surprised me about this film, was how much humour was in it. I am used to watching David Suchet in the role of Poirot, so I wasn’t sure how I would feel watching Kenneth Branagh play the Belgian detective. He was still prim and proper, but he also had some funny one liners, which was refreshing.

I really enjoyed the way the plot of this film twisted and turned, so that I thought I knew who committed the crime, but then my mind switched to another one of the suspects. In the end, I didn’t guess the murderer and really liked the ending.

I think the fun of this film, is trying to figure out ‘whodunnit’, but I suppose if you have read the novel before watching the film, I don’t know if it would be as much fun to watch.

I can see this version of ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ becoming one of those classics that is shown every Christmas and I hope there will be more ‘Poirot’ films like this in the future.

I would recommend watching this novel, both if you are a fan of Agatha Christie or if you like a good mystery.

My Rating **** 1/2 

Have you watched this film? What did you think of it?

Also, which crime/detective would you recommend?



Action, Books, Comic/Book Adaptation, Fiction, Films, Reviewing, Stephen King, Two Star Rating

Friday Film Chat- ‘The Dark Tower’ (With Spoilers)

the dark tower


I have been a MASSIVE fan of Stephen King since I was about 14 (so a few years now…….maybe…..), but ‘The Dark Tower’ series had passed me by. That was until this summer, when I started reading these novels in preparation for the ‘Dark Tower’s’ release.

I’m now on the third novel of the series and completely hooked, so I was excited to watch this film. I had seen a few bad reviews of this, but decided to go to watch it, in order to make up my own mind about this film.

There are some good elements about this novel which I really enjoyed. The depiction of Mid-World was absolutely spot on and although Idris Elba doesn’t fit the physical description of the character in the book, I think the attitude he conveys is perfect. I also really liked Tom Taylor as Jake.

Now, for the problems. There were quite a few elements which let this film down. I didn’t think that Matthew McConaughey played a convincing role as The Man In Black AKA Walter O’Dim. In my opinion he was a generic, slightly pantomime villain, rather than really embodying the character, as Stephen King had written it.

This novel is packed with mythology and back story which mostly revolves around Roland, his family and friends and how he became a Gunslinger. There were moments in which the characters started to talk about these things during the film and I was excited to think that the film was going to get to the essence of the first novel. However, I felt frustrated that any back story or mythology which was mentioned through the film’s appalling dialogue was simply glossed over, instead of expanded on.

For me, it actually felt like the producers and scriptwriters simply skim read the novels and then decided to make up the majority of this film. I can only think of two or three instances where any of the story from the first book, was transferred into the film. The rest, was completely untrue. These included: Jacob’s entrance into the story, the ending, the way in which The Man in Black was trying to take down the Dark Tower and Jake’s family and the list goes on.

Now I know film adaptations can’t always feature every single element of a book, but to be honest, I struggled to find ANY similarities between the book and the film.

Doing a book justice in film form is possible. A good example is Peter Jackson’s adaptations of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. You can tell by watching those films, that Peter Jackson loved the novels and wanted to do them justice. So it annoys me to think that the producers and screenwriters in charge of adapting ‘The Dark Tower’ series, simply didn’t care and were only concerned about making money. In fact I think this would have been received a bit better than it has been, if the producers had taken their time and allowed the plot to breath a bit more. Stephen King was consulted during the making of the film, so it’s also disappointing that he passed this film as acceptable.

If you haven’t read the novels, you may mildly enjoy this forgettable film. If you are a fan of the novels however, you will be sorely disappointed.

My Rating: ** 1/2

Have you watched this film? What did you think of it?

Comedy, Films, Five Star Rating, Friday Film Chat, Writing

Friday Film Chat on ‘The Lady in the Van’ DVD (May Contain Spoilers)

lady in the van


Usually I go to the cinema on Thursday’s, but this week I wasn’t able to go. So this week’s ‘Friday Film Chat’ will be about a film I saw, about a week ago.

Actually, it was the second time I had seen this film. I originally watched this film when it came out in the cinema in 2015. I enjoyed it then, but was intrigued to see if I would enjoy this more on another viewing.

The plot tells the true story of a woman named Miss Shepard, who parks her van outside of the playwright Alan Bennett’s and stays there for 15 years. Doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? I can assure you, that this film is wonderfully quirky.

As time goes on, Alan discovers more about Miss Shepard despite his attempts to rid her from his driveway. He finds out that she had once played piano in a promenade concert, had tried to train as a nun but was kicked out for playing music in the convent and also, despite appearances, that she is learned woman.

What he doesn’t know, is the real reason she lives in the van in first place. She on the run from the law.

I love the gentle humour in this film. I think Maggie Smith does a wonderful job at making this unlikeable character well, likeable and Alex Jennings is uncanny as Alan Bennett. In fact during the end credits, the real Alan Bennett makes an appearance and the likeness is quite spooky.

As a writer myself, I could totally identify the two Alans featured in this film.  A writer’s mind is often divided into two, so the film had one Alan who carried out the duties of real life, whilst the other Alan spent the day writing. I loved the interactions between the two and it gave a great insight, on how a writer’s mind works.

The neighbours added a great deal to the story. The neighbourhood in which Alan lives in is quite affluent, so the different reactions to Miss Shepard parking her van in the street were quite amusing. This film makes an interesting comment on the British class system, because some of the neighbours see Miss Shepard as an insect that needs to be squashed quickly, in order to to protect the neighbourhood’s reputation, others see her as way to prove themselves as ‘Good Samaritans’, despite Miss Shepard’s protests against their home cooked meals and their children’s recorder recitals outside of her van. Only Alan and another neighbour, Ursula, really treat her as a human being.

It’s a bit of a geeky fact, but whilst watching this film I was delighted to see that the principal cast of ‘The History Boys’ (minus Richard Griffiths), made a cameo during this film. It was a nice nod to one of Bennett’s most popular works.

You don’t have to be familiar with Alan Bennett in order to enjoy this film, though. I think it’s lack of shiny special effects and wealth of brilliant characters make this film a gem to watch. I highly recommend it.

My Rating *****

Have you watched this film? What did you think of it?