“Death on the Nile:” Another fun murder mystery

The sequel to 2017’s “Murder on the Orient Express” finally arrives

Even as films come out in 2022, effects stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic continue to play a pivotal role in their release. This goes for “Death on the Nile,” whose release date was changed six times before finally releasing on Feb. 11.

A sequel to 2017’s “Murder on the Orient Express,” the latest Agatha Christie adaptation boasts a completely new cast, with the exceptions of director/lead star Kenneth Branagh as detective Hercule Poirot, and Tom Bateman as Bouc. Meanwhile, some of the newcomers include Gal Gadot, Russell Brand, Armie Hammer, Letitia Wright and Emma Mackey. The plot centers on a murder taking place on a cruise ship, with each passenger becoming a suspect for Poirot to investigate.

This type of story naturally springs Branagh, who I thought was brilliant, into the spotlight. However, “Death on the Nile” outperforms its predecessor in developing the other characters. Emma Mackey, in particular, turns in a great performance, though her screen time does not meet the levels of her co-stars.

Murder mysteries can become risky projects for filmmakers if the plot strays toward predicability. Despite this, the film does not suffer from this issue and will leave all of its viewers satisfied. Though I cannot comment on its accuracy compared to the 1937 novel of the same name, having watched both “Death on the Nile” and “Murder on the Orient Express,” I would most certainly recommend this genre to anyone interested in both film and print.

But alas, Kenneth Branagh’s project is nowhere near a flawless masterpiece. The film’s special effects were comically bad during the first 45 minutes, which consists of many landscape shots of Egypt. The problem with this? “Death on the Nile” was shot in its entirety in England, creating the issue of requiring so much post-production work. This would not be such an issue, but these efforts were heavily altered by the pandemic.

COVID-19 was not the sole factor that hurt this film, however. The sale of the 20th Century Studios to Disney put “Death on the Nile” in even further limbo, with the film being completely shelved at one point for over a month.

It is fair to suspect that if not for the timing of the pandemic, as well as Disney’s lack of investment upon acquiring it, these special effects flaws would have been resolved. For most moviegoers, however, this is not a make-or-break issue for the film and is only prominent in the beginning stages of the story.

Overall, I enjoyed “Death on the Nile” just as much as “Murder on the Orient Express.” Though some critics contend that much of the first film’s fun is lost in this second murder mystery, the new cast of characters and the unique setting change things dramatically, making for a fun trip to the theater.

“Death on the Nile” is now showing in theaters nationwide. Additionally, its 2017 precursor “Murder on the Orient Express” can be rented online through various platforms.