Bad Times at the El Royale

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Photo Source: 20th Century Fox

The El Royale is run-down hotel that sits on the border between California and Nevada. It soon becomes a seedy battleground when seven strangers — a cleric, a soul singer, a traveling salesman, two sisters, the manager and the mysterious Billy Lee — converge on a fateful night for one last shot at redemption before everything goes wrong. – 20th Century Fox

Bad Times at the El Royale was written and directed by Drew Goddard, a man who has done stuff I like. The Cabin in the Woods is my all-time favorite movie, Goddard co-wrote it and directed it. The Martian was one of my first reviews, so it’s probably trash but I really like the movie and Goddard wrote the screenplay. Goddard’s also been involved with Lost, Daredevil and, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Lots of things I like so, when I found out about this movie I was excited —especially considering the superb cast list.

This film is very much a love letter to Tarantino-esque films and by that, I mean that this is a movie with a large ensemble cast with overarching stories that bounce back and forth in time until they all intersect. I thought it would be harder to put that in words, but I feel like I did alright. It’s hard to really say anything about the plot of this film without spoiling it. Basically, six strangers and their stories intersect at a shady hotel where hell breaks loose. The story and the way everything ties together is very intricate — this a movie you need to pay attention to. Bad Times at the El Royale is two plus hours, but it didn’t feel like that at all, the whole time I was on the edge of my seat. The movie itself is very captivating and enthralling. There is a McGuffin — think Pulp Fiction — but if you pay enough attention you can figure out what it is. Once all the pieces line up the ending is a bit predictable and I’m seeing that as the most common complaint. I myself was satisfied with the ending. Whether you think the ending falls short or not, it’s a wild ride getting there.

Regardless of what you think of the plot and story itself this is a beautiful looking and sounding film, from the cast themselves to the sets and cinematography all the way down to the score and soundtrack. There is literally not one bad performance in this entire film. There are some actors who didn’t get as much to do as I would’ve liked but that’s not a fault on their acting ability. Jon Hamm and Jeff Bridges never have bad performances so, it should not come as a surprise that they are great in this movie, but they are not the standouts.

There are three standouts in this movie — at least in my opinion. Chris Hemsworth, Dakota Johnson and Cynthia Erivo. Hemsworth never gets to play a villain, he finally did in this movie. He is charismatic, creepy and oh so captivating — he does a little dance in the movie and it made me question my sexuality. You may know Dakota Johnson from 50 Shades or whatever. I haven’t seen any of those movies, but I know she’s in them. It turns out she’s a really talented actress — it was nice seeing her in a movie where she could put her acting skills on the line. You probably don’t know who Cynthia Erivo is. Don’t feel bad, I didn’t either. She’s a British stage actress/singer and Bad Time at the El Royale is her first movie. She’s got a great set of pipes on her and steals the screen when it’s on her. Like I said the acting is all high caliber.

The people are beautiful but so are the sets. The El Royale is a gorgeous looking hotel. It’s shady, mysterious and is definitely from the 60’s and 70’s. The hotel itself is a character. Goddard’s cinematography brings the hotel to another level. The idea of the movie is that people are watching you and the way Goddard uses the camera to show that was magnificent.

The story may fall flat but everything else makes up for it, the acting, the sets, the cinematography and, the list just goes on and on. You gotta see this one in theaters just to appreciate all the hard work that went in. Bad Times at the El Royale is easily one of the best-looking movies of the year — Goddard kicked it up a notch with this one.

I give Bad Times at the El Royale an 8.75 out of 10, would watch again. (I wanted to give it a 10/10 but I know it’s not perfect.)

“I’ve heard better.”

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