Murder On The Orient Express 4K Ultra HD

Featured In Issue 226, April 2018

WSR Score5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
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Violence and thematic elements
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-66)
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Color With B/W Sequences
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Kenneth Branagh
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Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1
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"Murder On The Orient Express" is a classic whodunit murder mystery based on the best-selling novel by Agatha Christie. Everyone is a suspect when a murder is committed on a lavish train ride, and a brilliant detective (Branagh) must race against time to solve the puzzle before the killer strikes again. (Gary Reber)

Special features include commentary by Director/Producer/Actor Kenneth Branagh and Michael Green; six featurettes: "Agatha Christie: An Intimate Portrait" (HD 19:03), "Let's Talk About Hercule Poirot" (HD 09:54), "Unusual Suspects (Part One, Two, and Three)" (HD 17:53), "The Art Of Murder" (HD 16:23), "All Aboard: Filming" HD 16:35) ,and "Music Of Murder" (HD 07:31); 11 deleted scenes with optional commentary by Director Branagh and Green (HD 16:40); a gallery; theatrical trailers; and a Movies Anywhere digital copy.

The 2.39:1 2160p HEVC/H.265 Ultra HD HDR10/Dolby Vision picture, reviewed on a Sony Bravia Z9D 4K Ultra HD HDR display, was photographed digitally using the Arri Alexa 65 (6.5K) and Panavision 65 HR camera systems, and on 65 mm Kodak film stock using the Panavision Panaflex System 65 Studio camera and sourced from a 4K master Digital Intermediate format. The picture is gorgeous, especially Cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos's shots of the Orient Express as it leaves the station in Istanbul and crosses the snow-covered mountains. Color fidelity is warmly saturated with rich, natural hues that are vivid. The wood interior of the train, the copper pots in the train's galley, and the hue highlights on clothes are all wonderfully nuanced in natural color. The wider color gamut is evident throughout. Fleshtones are naturally rendered with a strong healthy appearance. The black-and-white segments are flashbacks. HDR contrast is dramatic, with bright white snow and occasional touches of bright white on clothing, and dramatic lighting. Resolution is superb with fine detail exhibited throughout, such as in object textures within the train compartments and on the exterior of a bridge with the train derailed in the heavy snow, clothing nuances, facial features including makeup, hair, Detective Poirot's gray mustache, and skin pores and lines. Black levels nicely contrast with the whites, and shadow delineation is revealing of fine detail. Dimensionality is excellent. WOW! segments are from 20:20 to 20:55, 34:35 to 35:14, 01:02:12 to 01:04:14, and 01:27:18 to 01:28:50. This is a terrific 4K Ultra HD presentation with reference-quality segments and visuals that are stunning. (Gary Reber)

The Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtrack is well crafted though frontal focused during much of the interior train scenes. During such scenes, surround energy is rather confined to the normal 5.1 surround format, and then at a low level. Throughout, the orchestral score provides a wide and deep soundstage that extends to all four surrounds, at a decent level, to be effective. The really aggressive and dynamic passages are centered around the sounds of the locomotive, with energized surrounds and deep bass extension in the .1 LFE channel. Bass intensity also is apparent during thunder and snowstorms. As this is a dialogue-focused soundtrack, the dialogue is clean and articulate with good spatial integration. Branagh's narration at the end is nicely positioned forward. The Immersive Sound element is limited, but the orchestral score extends to provide nuanced immersion. The other elements are comprised of the train whistle, train track clacking sound as the train rolls on, thunder, lightening, snow crashing on the train at a tunnel entrance, and low-level wind and bird tweets. Unfortunately, so much more spherical surround sonics could have been created but were not realized. Except for the music, with long silent sequences in between, the other atmospheric and sound effects are extremely limited and really ineffective. Still, the ear-level soundtrack provides a good experience with excellent fidelity. (Gary Reber)