Bad Times at the El Royale – Decent at Times

Rating (3 out of 5)

A hodgepodge of characters and scenes make a decent enough film, but a movie that defeats itself trying to be cool and edgy.

Plot:  Four individuals check into the El Royale which is split between California and Nevada.  The hotel caretaker and the guests have secrets that will be revealed throughout their one night stay.

Father Daniel Flynn (Jeff Bridges)
Darlene Sweet (Cynthia Erivo)
Emily Summerspring (Dakota Johnson)
Laramie Seymour Sullivan (Jon Hamm)
Miles Miller (Lewis Pullman)

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What I Liked: When we concentrated on the current here and now, the movie was very enjoyable. Like when Emily shots one of the guests in her room, that set off another set of issues.  The scene at the roulette table near the end of the file with the psycho Billy Lee (Chris Hemsworth) is another example of a good sequence..

The introduction of the hotel and the hotel guests while a bit long was enjoyable, and gave an good introduction to the characters.

While I thought the cast as a whole did well Dakota Johnson and Chris Hemsworth both impressed.  Maybe it was just their characters, but they both lit up the screen when their characters were there.

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What I Didn’t Like:  This movie lacked a humor or quirkiness and had a serious dry tone, that didn’t match the styling.

The movie tries too hard to be quirky and cool.  The flashback for each character is overused and wasn’t  wasn’t necessary.   The backgrounds or motivations for each character could have been explored through their interactions or dialog.    For example, we didn’t need the full backdrop on Emily and her sister and Billy Lee.  All we needed was one sentence to know Emily’s sister Ruth (Cailee Spaeny) was a groupie/worshipper of the Charles Mansonesque Bille Lee.

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The director didn’t trust the audience to have the intelligence to see the characters as they were presented, the backstory was actually a little insulting.

This movie feels like an three hour trek, even though it is only 2 hours and 21 minutes.  Had the story telling been more precise and fewer backstories, this could have been a faster paced movie which would have improved the film dramatically.

The end felt out of place.  Didn’t have to show Father Daniel and Darlene at the Reno showroom.  The movie would have ended well with them driving away that night.

Conclusion: Bad Times defeats itself in trying to hard to be a Tarantino/Ritchie esque film, but the movie is there are enough good scenes that this is an entertaining movie worth watching.

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