disclosure: I was provided with a Digital copy of Death on the Nile in order to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own. No other compensation was received.
Death on the Nile, a 1937 mystery novel by Agatha Christie, was first on the big screen in 1978. I remember the hype when this film hit the theaters and eventually cable tv. The attraction of this film was the use of many top-name movie stars – all in the same movie! Now, Kenneth Branagh brings Death on the Nile to life for a new generation. Death on the Nile is available on Digital, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD now.
But is it as good as the original? I know exactly what you are thinking – is anything ever? My teenager (NDK) and I watched the original a few years ago and loved it, so we were very curious to see how this played out. Read on to see what we thought and if you should watch this version!
About the movie
Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot’s (Kenneth Branagh) spectacular Egyptian vacation aboard a river boat becomes a terrifying search for a murderer after a picture-perfect couple’s honeymoon is cut tragically short. Based on Agatha Christie’s novel, this tale of passion and jealousy is filled with wicked twists and turns until its shocking finale.
The original 70s movies based on Agatha Christie’s books were known for the star-studded casting. This version does not disappoint when it comes to casting. Death on the Nile features Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot, Tom Bateman as Bouc, Annette Bening as Euphemia Bouc, Russell Brand as Dr. Bessner, Ali Fazal as Andrew Katchadourian, Dawn French as Bowers, Gal Gadot as Linnet Ridgeway Doyle, Armie Hammer as Simon Doyle, Rose Leslie as Louise Bourget, Emma Mackey as Jacqueline de Bellefort, Sophie Okonedo as Salome Otterbourne, Jennifer Saunders as Marie Van Schuyler & Letitia Wright as Rosalie Otterbourne.
Nothing is ever as good as the original. With that said, the Egyptian visuals were stunning, but the acting was not so convincing. If only the storyline had not strayed. This version of Death on the Nile offers a glimpse into the backstory of Poirot, which did lead to a bit of confusion on our end. The movie opens with a World War I scene, delving into the younger, pre-detective life of Poirot – we actually stopped the movie to make sure we were watching the correct film. Eventually the story started to become familiar, only for it to drift again. The characters did not make the effort for me to feel they were all connected in some manner. The Nile trip was part of a wedding party, so one would assume the guests would have some sort of relationship. I kept having to remind myself how everyone was connected in this version.
It took almost an hour for the movie to start picking up speed and become interesting. This version of the movie was 2 hours 7 minutes, which was 13 minutes shorter than the original, and yet it felt much longer than the original. I feel that if this version had stayed true to the original storyline, we would have liked it better. Many little things were changed that just seemed unnecessary. The movie still conveyed the same result, I just felt it was not as impactful.
Is this a movie for the family?
Death on the Nile is rated PG-13 for violence, some bloody images, and sexual material. There are quite a few murders in this version. It is not too violent, but there are quite a few scenes that depict blood or imply violence. The dancing scene is a bit much in the beginning, and honestly, seemed very unnecessary. I would say this movie is heavy on the sexual material, although it is mostly implied.
Sometimes watching the bonus features are better than watching the movie itself. These bonus features are definitely not to be missed. We really enjoyed the deleted scenes – especially the ones that were not edited. Seeing the “boat” on set was very interesting!
- Death on the Nile: Novel to Film – Explore the new vision for Agatha Christie’s classic novel DEATH ON THE NILE, and how Kenneth Branagh and screenwriter Michael Green collaborated with Christie’s estate to bring a new twist to this story of love and murder.
- Agatha Christie: Travel Can Be Murder – The story behind the book connects with Christie’s own love of travel, and especially Egypt and its secrets. Her legacy continues through her family and new generations of filmmakers and actors, all at once contributing to the immortality of her novels.
- Design on the Nile – The setting, the costumes, the photography, all contribute to the Agatha Christie touch. We take a fun tour of this “ship of suspects” and learn details about the overall look and design of everything from the characters to the environment.
- Branagh/Poirot – Kenneth Branagh is a one-of-a-kind artist who can switch hats with exceptional skill, playing Poirot one moment and directing the next. This piece pays tribute to Branagh’s ability to stay connected to his cast and creative team through it all.
- Deleted Scenes
- The Market
- Poirot’s Cabin
- Rosalie and Bouc Outside Temple
- Windlesham Jogging
- Poirot Discusses Case
- Poirot and Bouc Approach Jackie
- Confronting Bouc and the Otterbournes
- Poirot Orders Books
Death on the Nile is worth watching at least once, but if we had to choose, we would choose the original 1978 version. Death on the Nile is available on Digital, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD now.
A Disney blooded, crafty, fun-lovin’ wife/mom/organizer/planner, etc who is obsessed with all things Disney 🙂 Maria grew up with the Magic Kingdom and has loved watching WDW evolve into what it is today. A firm believer in the Power of Pixie Dust, she is the owner of The Disney Driven Life – A Community for Neurotic Disney People & a d.i.y. crafty blog, Carousel of Projects – create~inspire~share.