I saw Murder on the Orient Express with five people. Three of us would admit to at least fighting to keep our eyes open if not completely falling asleep. Not exactly a wringing endorsement!
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A star-studded event from the Hallmark Channel in the guise of The Christmas Train is essentially Murder on the Orient Express, but with more romance and petty theft instead of MURDER. Who stole the pen? And the sunglasses? And who wants Father of the Bride (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) to bang her ex (Dermot Mulroney) and why? All these questions will be answered (says in non-committal voice, “In a satisfying way…”), but then, if you’ve seen Murder on the Orient Express, you already know the answer.
You have to wonder how this movie came to exist. Although really, simple logic suggests that all you have to do is look at what’s playing at your local theater and what a coincidence! There is a new version of Murder on the Orient Express playing right now! Where do the folks at the Hallmark Channel come up with their ideas?
But the plot thickens. It turns out, The Christmas Train is a novel that the Hallmark Channel must have purchased the rights to and then adapted into a film. What a sorry state of affairs.
Now that we got that out-of-the-way, is The Christmas Train any good? Well, it’s just kind of par for the Hallmark Channel Christmas movie course. In an unusual move, you can see that most of the budget went to the cast and the sets/locations, but definitely not to digital effects. (There are some really ugly shots of the train stuck in the snow.) I get the impression that they wanted to keep up the illusion so that Dermot Mulroney, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Danny Glover and Joan Cusack wouldn’t leave the set thinking the movie was a cheap piece of crap they shouldn’t promote. It’s not till you actually watch the movie that the seams start to show.
Speaking of high-priced talent (again, on the Hallmark Channel Christmas movie scale) Dermot Mulroney, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Danny Glover and Joan Cusack aren’t exactly phoning it in, and Mulroney and Kimberly Williams-Paisley have a lot more to do, so… what I’m saying is, I wouldn’t watch this movie just because you’re a fan of these actors. This isn’t exactly a performance piece.
When it comes down to it, The Christmas Train is an adaptation of a novel that is really just a Christmas fan-fiction version of Murder on the Orient Express. What else is there to say?
Oh, I don’t especially recommend it, but it will neither ruin nor improve your life.