A Haunting in Venice Review Round-up: Dazzling but Wasted Adaptation

A Haunting in Venice has been hailed by several foreign critics as Kenneth Branagh’s best Hercule Poirot picture, while others have criticized the film for wasting its superb cast.

On September 15, Kenneth Branagh’s third performance as Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot will be released in theaters. The sequel to Murder on the Orient Express (2017) and Death on the Nile from the previous year is A Haunting in Venice. International critics have criticized the most recent installment for wasting its brilliant ensemble cast while still being visually opulent.

A good Agatha Christie retelling

According to The Wrap’s review, “A Haunting in Venice” is more influenced by Christie’s novel “Halloween Party” than it is an adaptation, unlike Branagh’s previous two Poirot films that were based on Christie’s novels.

A Haunting in Venice is unquestionably the greatest of Branagh’s three big-screen Christie adaptations, in large part because it is also the most blatantly dishonest, according to the Los Angeles Times, which expressed the same sentiment. Empire continues, “This new strategy of wildly rewriting obscure Christie novels shows real promise.”

Astounding in appearance

In the words of The New York Times review, “What’s consistent is the elegant visuals — striking cinematography by Haris Zambarloukos — which mark this movie’s real genre as lavish old-fashioned Hollywood entertainment.”

A Haunting in Venice is compared to Death on the Nile in The Guardian, which also notes that this movie “does at least look better than its predecessor, which used cheesy digital effects and back-projections to suggest Egypt and the Nile.”

Yet alas!

According to the Guardian review, the film wastes its stellar cast. With every new Branagh/Poirot film, I’ve sat down for a little guilty-pleasure enjoyment, and he always brings a fundamental level of vivacious energy to the role. But each time, the plodding inertia that develops has left me unimpressed. In this case, it was the false-ending and fake-reveal moments that the film rushed through, as well as the criminal waste of the supporting characters.

According to the NYT review, horror fans may be let down by the movie. It’s a little depressing as a mystery but tame as horror. One problem is that they talk too much. The article claims that Branagh, who experimented with gothic dread early in his career with Frankenstein, has a better sense for actorly grand guignol than the speed of cinematic scene scenes.

A Haunting in Venice is directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also stars as the film’s protagonist. 20th Century Studios’ ensemble cast includes Jamie Dornan, Michelle Yeoh, and Tina Fey.

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