The first reviews for Death on the Nile are in and though the movie assuredly does a better job of adapting Agatha Christie than 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express, it seems that director Kenneth Branagh has still succumbed to quite a few pitfalls in his sequel.
Boasting a star-studded cast that includes Russell Brand, Tom Bateman, and Gal Gadot, Death on the Nile sets out to put a unique spin on the 1937’s classic novel of the same name, depicting the world-renowned detective Hercule Poirot on one of his most harrowing whodunit cases.
Days before the film’s premiere in theaters, the early critical feedback to Death on the Nile is calling it a mixed bag. Starting off with a positive take, Ross Bonaime of Collider wrote that this is “Branagh’s best directorial effort since 2015’s live-action Cinderella” and further described the film as “one of the most alluring mysteries in years.”
David Rooney of THR was more critical of this second installment, writing that “the film is satisfying enough, though more so as glossy, old-school entertainment than diabolically clever mystery.” There was also criticism of a lack of cohesion in characterization due to the huge ensemble, a sentiment that the Collider review also echoed.
Variety praised the sequel’s ambitions over the original, though noted that despite not being an Agatha Christie story, Rian Johnson’s Knives Out channels the writer in a much more impactful way, writing “Death on the Nile, decent as it is, can’t touch that film’s fusion of wit, excitement, and old-school whodunit glee.”
IGN gave the film a score of 7 out of 10, writing: “It takes Death on the Nile far longer than it should to reach its most impactful moments, but actor-director Kenneth Branagh cares deeply enough about Detective Poirot to make it work.”
All in all, it seems that Branagh’s film improves on every aspect of its original, but don’t go in expecting a whodunit masterpiece when the film comes out on Feb. 11.