Nothing about Death of the Nile is particularly groundbreaking, but Kenneth Branagh and his team do an excellent job making the film look as lavish and stylish as Linnet Ridgeway. Much like the character he plays, Kenneth Branagh crafts the film with organized and eloquent precision. The problem is that this isn’t a film that’s supposed to be all style and no substance. It’s an Agatha Christie murder mystery—there has to be a lot of meat there.
Unfortunately, the whodunnit mystery of Death on the Nile is easy to figure out. Primarily due to the lack of chemistry between Gal Gadot and Armie Hammer. Whether dancing, dining, or showing affection for each other, Gadot and Hammer are just too stiff and uneasy in each others’ arms. It made figuring out nuances in the plot that much easier. It also doesn’t help that Hammer’s performance is so over-the-top that you suspect him right from the get-go.
Needless to say, there aren’t a lot of twists, turns, and shocking moments in Death on the Nile. For the most part, Branagh’s film only half wants to be a murder mystery. Hercule Poirot spends too much of the film’s runtime tangled in the lives of these socialites instead of investigating the various murders on the Karnak. When we finally reach the investigative portion of the movie, Nile moves at a brisk pace quickly, reaching the big reveal before the audience knows it.
Overall, Death on the Nile is an all-style and no substance flick disguised as a murder mystery. The mystery is simple, the investigation swift, and the characters one-dimensional. Death on the Nile never makes you work for the reveal. Instead, it’s too interested in getting your nether regions worked up instead of amping up your cerebral deductive skills.
Movie Rating: 3/5 atoms
Death on the Nile hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a Dolby Vision/HDR10 transfer and a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. The highlights of the picture beam off the screen—something you can especially see with the light of the raging Egyptian sun. The shadows vary in blackness. It’s a wide range from an inky black to a dark gray. The daytime portions of the film showcase the beauty of Egypt in the late-30s with the green foliage and blue sky. The primary colors of costumes and the interiors of the kid’s houses look excellent. Some amber filters are applied throughout that look great as well. The detail is sharp, revealing all the textures and patterns in the clothing. The image is so clear that it accentuates some of the film’s atrocious-looking CGI.
Video Rating: 5/5 atoms
Death on the Nile hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a Dolby Atmos and a core 7.1 Dolby TrueHD Master Audio track. This review will reflect Death on the Nile‘s Dolby Atmos track. Thankfully, Nile’s release continues 20th Century Studios’ streak of having a solid or terrific Atmos track. This Atmos mix is the former, but then again, this isn’t a film that requires a dynamic track. For one thing, the vocals and sound effects move seamlessly across the soundstage. For example, as Branagh’s Poirot interviews each suspect, the camera pans or slides around the room. When it does, the voices accurately move as the camera does.
At the same time, the surround sound channels do feature some great ambiance. When it comes to the overhead channels, you accurately get effects that match what’s happening on screen—stuff such as birds flying, rocks falling, and feet moving. Also, the score subtly and dynamically fills up the soundstage. Vocals are clean and clear throughout with no issue whatsoever.
Audio Rating: 4.5/5 atoms
Death on the Nile‘s Ultra HD Blu-ray disc doesn’t have any special features on it. However, you can find the following special features on the 1080p Blu-ray disc:
- Death on the Nile: Novel to Film
- Agatha Christie: Travel Can Be Murder
- Design on the Nile
- Branagh / Poirot
- Deleted Scenes
- The Market
- Poirot’s Cabin
- Rosalie and Bouc Outside Temple
- Windlesham Jogging
- Poirot Discusses Case
- Poirot and Bouc Approach Jackie
- Confronting Bouc and the Otterbournes
- Poirot Orders Books
- Official Trailer
Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of bonus features in this release. There’s some good stuff that’ll showcase what it took to make this film, but not a lot. With “Novel to Film,” many of the film’s filmmakers and various Christie experts discuss bringing the book to life. The featurette also focuses on Branagh and screenwriter Michael Green collaborating with Christie’s estate to bring a new twist to Poirot and the book. “Travel Can Be Murder” is an informative featurette on the “Queen of Crime,” Agatha Christie, and her love of travel.
“Design of the Nile” highlights the various design departments of the movie and the effort it took to get Christie’s influence looking right for the film. “Branagh / Poirot” looks at Branagh’s ability to connect with his cast and creative team as the film’s director and star. As you can imagine, this feature is a total lovefest since there are plenty of interviews from the cast and crew about their admiration for Branagh. Finally, the deleted scenes don’t add anything of value to the theatrical cut. They are, however, interesting to watch nonetheless.
Special Features Rating: 3/5 atoms
Overall, Death on the Nile is visually stunning (except for the CGI), but the murder mystery part of the film is severely lacking. Similarly, the bonus features are lacking as well. Thankfully, the video and audio presentations are as pristine as the Tiffany’s necklace in the film.
Overall Rating: 4/5 atoms
Death on the Nile is now available in stores on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.
This Blu-ray was reviewed using a retail/advance copy/unit provided by Walt Disney Home Entertainment.