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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Poirot - Hercule Poirot's Christmas
Poirot - Hercule Poirot's Christmas
Acorn Media // Unrated // September 25, 2001
List Price: $24.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Holly E. Ordway | posted September 12, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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It's Christmas, and all is well for the famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (David Suchet)... until he discovers that the heat isn't working in his apartment. Fortunately, he receives a mysterious summons from an elderly man (whose mansion is centrally heated), and dashes off to spend Christmas in a "working holiday." In Hercule Poirot's Christmas, based on the Agatha Christie novel of the same name, Poirot discovers that family get-togethers can be positively murderous. The old man knows that his children hate him, but they put up with him in hopes of inheriting his fortune. He has something up his sleeve to discomfort his scheming children... but it turns out that there may be more than one deadly scheme involved.

The movie, which runs 103 minutes, is one of a series of feature-length mysteries featuring Hercule Poirot, which in turn were inspired by the Mystery! episodes starring Suchet as Poirot.

As I was watching this mystery, I tried to decide which actor I preferred as Poirot: Suchet or Peter Ustinov, who has played Poirot in several feature film adaptations of Christie's novels. It's a tough call. Suchet does a good job, but he doesn't seem to convey the eccentricity or the "presence" of Christie's famous detective as well as Ustinov. Of course, part of this impression might be due to the fact that the script for Hercule Poirot's Christmas isn't exactly dazzling. It's workmanlike, but none of the characters really seem to come to life as individual personalities.

The mystery itself (don't worry, I won't give anything away) is interesting, but only moderately so. I haven't read this particular Christie novel, so I can't say how faithful it is to the source, but in any case the dramatization doesn't really infuse much drama into it. The various suspects don't seem terribly suspicious, and the final "revelation" scene is a bit on the weak side. That's not to say that it's not fun to watch; it's just that, unlike with other Christie adaptations, I never got involved enough in the story to start spinning my own theories about "who did it."

Picture

Originally presented on television, Hercule Poirot's Christmas is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The image quality is average at best. On the bright side, the transfer looks quite clean, with hardly any noise. However, there's a blurry look to the image, and the contrast is unsatisfactory; it's too harsh in many scenes, resulting in a loss of picture detail.

Sound

The Dolby 2.0 soundtrack is adequate for the demands put on it in this dialogue-focused movie. There were a few times that I didn't quite catch a line or two of dialogue, but overall the soundtrack was fine.

Extras

Here we have a case of rather pointless extras scrounged up for the sake of the DVD edition. A few screens of text provide some basic biographical information about David Suchet and Agatha Christie. There's also a filmographies section, a rather silly text trivia quiz about Poirot, and a few memorable quotes from other Poirot episodes. Nothing to stimulate your "little gray cells," I'm afraid.

Final thoughts

This is the kind of DVD that's perfect to check out from your local public library (assuming your local library is good enough to carry DVDs, of course), since it's not the typical blockbuster film stocked by rental chains. It's fun to watch, and I'd be sure to go back and watch the other Poirot features if I could check them out for free. However, it's not compelling enough to earn a place in my collection at home. If you've enjoyed the Mystery! series, you may well want to pick up a copy (though the suggested retail price is rather steep); otherwise, if you're interested, you might do best to suggest to your local librarian that you'd like to see it carried at the library.
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