With all the death and mayhem that surrounds him, maybe Hercule Poirot shouldn’t travel? Kenneth Branagh returns as the famous mustachioed detective in the luxurious Hollywood travelog throwback whodunnit - Death on the Nile. Still a little bumpy, but a better film than the last outing. Twentieth Century Studios/Disney delivers the film to Blu-ray with a strong detailed transfer that just feels a tad too bright, an okay DTS-HD MA 7.1 audio mix, and a slim assortment of bonus features. Worth A Look
[Excerpt from our 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review]
"As I’ve covered a number of whodunits for HDD including Christie adaptations of The Mirror Crack’d, Evil Under The Sun, and Branagh’s first outing as Poirot in the 2017 Murder on the Orient Express, I have a deep love for this sort of film. In particular, I love the 1978 Death on the Nile with the ever-excellent Peter Ustinov as Poirot. I knew going into this new take not to expect the same. Branagh’s Orient Express was a warning shot to that effect that he’s going to take Christie’s creations and fiddle and play around and give his own spin. Where I had trouble with his first time out as the mustachioed detective, I found myself pleasantly surprised with what he brought to the table for this new take on Death on the Nile.
A couple more years and a couple of films later, Branagh displays a cooler and more comfortable presence as Poirot. One of my biggest criticisms of his Murder on the Orient Express - and the films he places himself as the lead - he tends to get distracted making the film about himself. It’s the key ingredient in Christie’s works that often the main detectives - Marple or Poirot - are not the main characters of the story. They’re merely observers, and Branagh shows a better hand this time around letting his cast have the bigger flashier moments until all needs to be revealed at the very end."
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Death on the Nile stabs away at Blu-ray with a single-disc Blu-ray + Digital release from 20th Century Studios/Disney. The Region Free BD-50 disc is housed in a standard case and loads to a static image main menu with traditional navigation options. The included digital copy is Movies Anywhere compatible.
Death on the Nile arrives on 1080p Blu-ray with a well-detailed, cinematic-appearing transfer, that’s hampered by being a bit too bright in places. More on that last part in a second. First, the facial features, the practical sets, and impressive costuming look amazing. Shot on 65mm there’s so much detail in the image it takes a moment to soak it all in… that is when there’s not a lot of CGI around. Part of the issue with this film as was the case for Orient Express is there’s quite a bit of CGI scenery against the large-scale practical sets. Sometimes this effect is seamless, other times it stands out like a nun at a Juggalo convention. My feel for this presentation is that it’s just a bit too bright for its own good.
Comparing the 4K disc with this 1080p transfer, the 4K disc’s HDR grading quiets things down and these CGI scene extensions aren’t quite so noticeable - as they weren't when I saw this film in theaters. Some are painfully obvious regardless but it’s more so here. There are moments where this image truly shines and it looks amazing, but for how much special effects trickery was utilized to bring this film together, a “less is more” approach would have held up under scrutiny. All in all, not a terrible transfer if you’re not rolling 4K UHD Blu-ray.
For Blu-ray, Death on the Nile is treated with a decent but somewhat frustrating DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix. In my review for the 4K UHD release, I noted how I needed to pop my levels for the Atmos track. That’s the same issue here only more so. Where I only moved the dial 3-4 points on Atmos, I had to go much higher to get the same sort of immediacy and impact. Once I found that comfortable spot the dialog was right on and the bulk of the mix worked well enough but it still sounded pinched by comparison. Imaging is effective, there’s plenty of surround activity to keep channels moving. I do miss the distinct overhead activity of the Atmos mix here and where I felt LFE was a little restrained in Atmos, it never really comes to life. Some rumble, but nothing to really make you feel the mix.
Travel agencies should have a Poirot warning system, wherever he goes death follows. Death on the Nile proves to be a clever and much-improved follow-up to Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express. Branagh appears more comfortable with the character on screen and behind the camera, as he does a much better job managing such an expansive cast of characters. Disney/20th Century Studios brings the film to Blu-ray with suitable results, but if you can roll 4K that’s the best way to go. This 1080p transfer is good and offers many visual splendors but it also appears overly bright and calls too much attention to the numerous CGI scenery extensions. To cap it off, the DTS-HD MA 7.1 audio mix is a notable step down from its Atmos counterpart. Worth A Look