Death on the Nile

It’s tempting to comment on the stunning cinematography in Death on the Nile, with shots in Egypt of the Sphinx, Pyramids of Giza and the Abu Simbel temples, but in reality the entire film was shot in studios in England.

Based on the 1937 Agatha Christie novel of the same name, fans of the obsessive compulsive but brilliant detective Hercule Poirot will enjoy this dramatic recreation of her written work. Here he is played by Kenneth Branagh, who also directs the film.

 

The Christie recipe for murder mysteries requires the initial introduction of the cast of characters. This can feel a bit contrived, rushed, and not unlike weekly episodes of The Love Boat. But once assembled, the story begins to gel and each person on a luxury river cruise down the Nile appears to have motive and opportunity to commit the crime.

 

The steam driven paddle-wheeler Karnak evokes feelings of the Titanic. There are plenty of private cabins, hiding places and corridors through which chases can take place. On board is an electric guitar strumming female singer whose daughter becomes romantically involved with Poirot’s friend Bouc. But wait, were Gibson guitars around in 1937? In fact, they were introduced in 1936. That would have been a glaring mistake. Phwew!

 

Armie Hammer plays Simon Doyle, newly-wed husband of wealthy Linnet Ridgeway, played by Gal Godot. Her performance here, as in other films, seems flat. She lacks screen charisma. Maybe you don’t need that to play Wonder Woman, but it would have been welcome here.

Jacqueline de Bellefort (Emma Mackey) is the bitter fiancé left behind by Doyle, and she keeps showing up in all the wrong places, with a gun.

 

Poirot’s patented interviews with guests lead you astray, and guessing “who done it” all the way to the story’s end. This film earned a “That was okay” upon leaving the theater.

 

 

Death on the Nile (2022) runs 2 hours, 8 minutes and is rated PG-13

Spider-man: No Way Home

Spider-man fans can’t get enough of their high-flying hero. And the Marvel Universe is taking full advantage of that addiction. This latest film features Tom Holland, considered to be the best Spider-man alongside real-life girlfriend Zendaya (Zendaya Maree Stoermer Coleman) as the latest “M.J.” in the franchise.

There’s really no way to discuss this movie without spoiling certain elements, so be warned. 

 

At times the presence of Doctor Strange threatened to overshadow the main character in Spider-man: No Way Home. I feel that Benedict Cumberbatch is too powerful an actor to portray this character, but that train has left the station. That Strange acquired his skills after spending time studying mystic arts in Tibet, casting spells and opening portals with flaming hand motions lacks the fictional credibility of genuine super powers.

 

Other favorites from the Spidey franchise return, most notably Otto Octavius, Doctor Octopus. A rupture in the multiverse allows a multitude of past villains to join the cast. Willem Dafoe is welcome in any capacity, but please tell me why two previous Spider-men show up as the actors who played them, Tobey McGuire and Andrew Garfield. We all know that’s not how the Multiverse works, right? But it did allow for some inter-character banter that was amusing for a while. “You mean your web comes out of your wrists?” the other two Peters ask McGuire.

The gag got a bit old, but is fun for fans.

 

So, chaos ensues, battles rage, M.J. is saved by a team effort of heroes, and ultimately Peter Parker must make the decision to be completely forgotten by everyone who has ever known him in order to heal the crack in the Multiverse with Doctor Strange’s help.

 

Two hours would have sufficed, but once again, this is a movie for the fans. And as usual, closing credits entice us with a future crossover between the Venom series and this one.

 

Great action and effects, but I’m just tired of this arm of Marvel.

 

 

Spider-man: No Way Home (2021) runs 2 hours, 28 minutes and is rated PG-13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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