I was blown away by how good it was. Was it perfect? No. Was it brilliant? YES.
“It wasn’t Agatha Christie’s Poirot, but it was Agatha Christie,” I summed it up to my husband afterward. Branagh was not Christie’s Poirot, not really–but he was true to the spirit of Poirot, and the story remained true to Christie’s spirit.
The acting was incredible on every level. Branagh and Pfeiffer anchored the performances (if neither of them receive Oscar nods I’m going to be Put Out), and everyone else lived up to them. (It feels weird to talk of Dame Judi Dench “living up to” anyone, but that was half her brilliance, in not stealing the show from anyone else but rather allowing others to shine–ditto Derek Jacobi). I didn’t even think of Olaf once with Josh Gad (I normally want to sink him in the nearest ocean). Daisy Ridley was not a Rey-in-the-real-world, which is a tricky task for someone coming out of Star Wars–she inhabited the character of Mary Debenhem without ever having the hint of a lightsaber around her. And so on.
Gorgeous cinematography, brilliant direction (Branagh ought to get a nod for Best Director as well), a surprisingly close following of the original plot … overall, I was impressed.
The few issues I had with it I can’t really talk about without spoilers, as they have to do with motives and the like–oh, and I was taken aback by Poirot introducing himself as “PROBABLY the greatest detective in the world.” I assume they included the “probably” to make his character more palatable to a modern audience, but that, even more than his action scenes and slight tendency toward Sherlock Holmes-level observation/deduction, jarred me. Poirot does not consider himself “probably” the world’s greatest detective. He IS the world’s greatest detective.
But really, all minor quibbles, and the good far outweighed the not-so-good. I was surprisingly satisfied with it, and I hope Branagh does more.