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So many wasted opportunities


By Spalding Today Columnist


BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE (15) (4818781)
BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE (15) (4818781)

FILM REVIEW:

BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE (15)

SHOWCASE CINEMA DE LUX PETERBOROUGH, OUT NOW

CAST: JEFF BRIDGES, CYNTHIA ERIVO, DAKOTA JOHNSON, CAILEE SPAENY, LEWIS PULLMAN, JON HAMM, NICK OFFERMAN, SHEA WHIGHAM & CHRIS HEMSWORTH

RUNNING TIME: 2 HRS 21 MINS

DIRECTOR: DREW GODDARD

Is Bad Times at the El Royale any good? Unfortunately, I’m afraid the clue is in the title.

Okay, that may be a rather harsh opening statement. The film is actually quite good. It was simply frustrating to see so many wasted opportunities.

I'll go into more detail on that soon.

Before that, the story focuses around a hotel and the guests – with a past – staying in it.

Lake Tahoe’s El Royale straddles the state line between California and Nevada, with visitors getting to choose which state they’d prefer to stay in. In this case, we have a vacuum cleaner salesman played by Jon Hamm, a priest (Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges), a singer (Cynthia Erivo), and a ‘hippy’ (Fifty Shades’ Dakota Johnson).

There’s also the hotel bellboy (played by Lewis Pullman), and I’m sure I noticed Chris ‘Thor’ Hemsworth all over the marketing – though I should warn you, he mostly features in the third act. If Hemsworth is the reason you’re watching this movie, you’ll likely be disappointed.

Now, as it turns out none of the hotel guests are who they first appear to be, and via multiple flashbacks, we slowly learn who they are and what brought them to this particular hotel.

The trailer intrigued me. It didn't give too much away, and the mystery surrounding the place reminded me of a classic X-Files episode, pointing towards a big conspiracy, maybe even something paranormal – after all this is from the writer/director of The Cabin in the Woods.

The start of the film was everything I hoped it would be. It was mysterious and I was excited to see how things would unravel. Sadly though, with every ‘big reveal’ I became increasingly underwhelmed.

I've seen a lot of people comparing this film to the works of Quentin Tarantino. I kind of agree to that. The cinematography was very Tarantino-esque, and the way the movie weaved between characters and their backstories reminded me of Pulp Fiction. If only the side stories were half as interesting as the ones in Pulp Fiction – this would have received a much superior review.

Fortunately there is just about enough good to outweigh the bad – but my negative tone simply comes from the frustration of knowing this should have been so much more prolific.

Rating: 3/5

Mikey Clarke



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