Murder on the Orient Express Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Everyone’s a suspect when a murder is committed on a lavish train ride, and a brilliant detective must race against time to solve the puzzle before the killer strikes again.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )



Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )



Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox – 2017
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 114 minutes
Genre: Thriller

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.39:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1, English DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Kenneth Branash, Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench, Daisy Ridley, Willem DaFoe, Josh Gad, Leslie Odom Jr.
Directed by: Kenneth Branagh
Music by: Patrick Doyle
Written by: Michael Green – Based on the novel by Agatha Christie
Region Code: A

Release Date: February 27, 2018

“Everyone has a past. Everyone has a secret. Everyone is a suspect”

My Take:

In the most timeless of whodunits, Murder on the Orient Express follows renowned detective Hercule Poirot as he attempts to solve what would become one of the most infamous crimes in history. After a shocking murder of a wealthy businessman on the lavish European train barreling its way west in the dead of winter, private detective Poirot must use every tool of his trade to uncover which of the train’s eclectic passengers is the killer, before he or she strikes again.

Based on Agatha Christie’s classic novel, written in 1934, Murder on the Orient Express in the hands of director/co-star Kenneth Branagh and screenwriter Michael Green, ticks most of the right boxes, but favors more of a style over substance feel. The 1974 big screen adaptation resonates deeper, drawing upon its richly drawn characters, taut suspense, and elegant underplay. Having said that, I did enjoy revisiting the plot, unfolding mystery, and the bringing together of an ensemble of actors to portray the story’s characters. The all-star lineup here isn’t quite as stalwart as those from the 1974 film, but I enjoyed them, especially Branagh in the pivotal role of Poirot.

Murder on the Orient Express won’t unseat Sidney Lumet’s classic in the hearts of movie buffs, but, it’s a passable big screen telling that kept me engaged.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for violence and thematic elements.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights:
  • HDR: Bright Highlights:
  • HDR: Expanded Color:
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
  • Audio object placement: 
  • Effectiveness: 
  • Entertainment factor: 

Murder on the Orient Express comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound that has an average bitrate of 4 Mbps.

For its presentation in Ultra HD, Murder on the Orient Express was derived from a mix of high quality sources, and rendered from a 4K DI. With the limited exposure to Ultra HD sourced from 4K Digital Intermediates we are left to judge based upon what we have seen thus far.

Murder on the Orient Express is a period-based film that has a specific visual aesthetic which comes through quite naturally in this Ultra HD rendering. With a discernible increase in detail and depth, the image appears more vivid and lifelike when compared to the 1080p version, which is excellent in its own right. Primary colors such red and blue are pleasingly rich while whites appear gradational and punchy. The film contains a host of sequences that take place in low/limited lighting, and the increased dimension in blacks and shadows is appreciable.

I find the natural rendering of light via its discernible stages and incremental highlights to be one of the presentation’s big pluses. This is the case during brightly lit exteriors, in the opening sequence, or later when everyone is standing in the snow near the derailed train. On the flip side, dark elements mixed with bright highlights look terrific. The scene just before the avalanche as the train barrels along the track at night is a good example. As the train steams through the mountain pass, in the dark, its lights set against the moonlit sky and shadowy mountains create a stark contrast that was enhanced by the application of HDR.

The film has a variety of sequences that make use of close up camera angles that show off the superb rendering of detail. At times the level of minutia is excellent, as even the finest nuance in the physical features, period clothing, sets, and props is resolvable. The film incorporates quite a bit of CGI, and the differences in the rendering of effects finished at 2K against the 4K real life imagery was noticeable. Otherwise, I didn’t observe any odd-looking proportions or deleterious softening.

Murder on the Orient Express looks excellent in both 1080p and Ultra HD, however, the Ultra HD rendering is noticeably a cut above.

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the moderately active variety, which considering the source material, was a pleasant surprise. Its use of audio objects placed above is comprised of a mix of atmospherics, panning fills and occasional discrete effects. This is done to good effect when implemented and creates an enriching level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events nicely. Examples can be found during any of the camera shots featuring the train chugging down the railway. Nearfield sound placement is excellent, providing an involving listening experience. The sequence involving the avalanche is probably the presentation’s best moment. The music is subtly mixed over the platform so as to add natural depth to its orchestrated elements without drawing attention away from the thematic details of what is transpiring onscreen. While this mix doesn’t make constant use of attention grabbing audio object placement, I found myself completely involved when it mattered and found this to be an enjoyable audio presentation that complimented the source material.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to online-shashki Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Blu-ray Video:

Video: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail: 
  • Color Reproduction: 
  • Fleshtones: 
  • Compression: 

Audio: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): 

Murder on the Orient Express comes to Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 32 Mbps, and lossless DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.8 Mbps.

Murder on the Orient Express looks terrific on Blu-ray and features rewarding high definition video quality that exhibits discerning levels of detail, and excellent rendering that brings out lifelike textures captured by the camera’s lens. Dimensional perspective has a near infinite appeal that can be visually stimulating. Close ups are noticeably refined and revealing of the subtlest details within facial features and objects within the frame. The film teeters back and forth between reserved/cooler color schemes and bolder, vivid tonality that represent the storylines accompanying themes.

Where appropriate, colors are appreciably delineated with natural rendering and punchy primaries that stand out among the remaining spectrum of secondary hues. Contrast is boldly applied without overstatement as it empowers whites/grays without washing away detail. Blacks are rich, gradationally strong and dynamic which makes them pop nicely during sequences containing a mix of light and dark elements. Detail in uneven light and darkened environments reveal visible shapes and structure in backgrounds.

The DTS-HD MA soundtrack features crystal clear dialog, robust dynamics and on occasion, an engaging surround sound mix. I was impressed with the implementation of both spacial dimension, and directional effects, associated with the elements of action. This worked hand in hand with a punchy low end and Patrick Doyle’s music, which underscored the film’s thematic tone. I found this to be an engaging audio presentation that complimented the video, resulting in an involving, and evocative viewing experience that enhanced the source material.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Murder on the Orient Express Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Murder on the Orient Express Blu-ray
    • Agatha Christie: An Intimate Portrait
    • Let’s Talk About Hercule Poirot
    • Unusual Suspects (Part One, Two and Three)
    • The Art of Murder
    • All Aboard: Filming Murder on the Orient Express
    • Music of Murder
    • Deleted Scenes (with and without Commentary by Kenneth Branagh and Michael Green)
    • Director commentary by Kenneth Branagh and Michael Green
    • Theatrical Trailers
    • Gallery
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

Based on Agatha Christie’s classic novel, written in 1934, Murder on the Orient Express in the hands of director/co-star Kenneth Branagh and screenwriter Michael Green, ticks most of the right boxes, but favors more of a style over substance feel, that leaves it somewhat lacking when compared to the 1974 classic based on the same source material. It comes to Blu-ray in the Ultra HD Combo Pack from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring terrific overall video quality, entertaining lossless sound, including a complimentary Dolby Atmos immersive mix, and a fan friendly supplemental package. While Murder on the Orient Express may not resonate as well as I’d hoped, it’s still worth a visit, if for nothing else, then to check out its top notch presentation.

Ralph Potts
online-shashki Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies – 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS SB-13 Ultra (Piano Gloss finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems 

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