Dark movies offer the potential for a fantastic story, filled with twists, turns, and elements that you didn’t see coming. My second review of the week is one such movie, with a trailer that teases one into taking a dive down another distorted rabbit hole to find a land of wonder and shock that will have you talking for days. With a cavalcade of stars and the hints of secrets, this drama looks to be the next big discussion to come. Does it deliver? Hi, Robbie K here with another review, this time on:
Movie: Bad Times At The El Royale (2018)
Acting: Central Pillar on this one, Bad Times At The El Royale relies heavily on the cast to bring the characters to life. Diving into the gritty roles is tough, but they nail their execution of complicate characters with plenty to hide. Their chemistry is solid, their conveying of emotions on point, and in regards to becoming one with the characters, I think they succeeded in this endeavor. One will find their involvement in these characters super.
The Details: A movie that is character centric like this one requires a lot of detail to get you invested in their lives. Mission Accomplished, because the El Royale is super focused on the background information and doing its best to describe the situations leading up to their pilgrimage to the infamous hotel. You want those dram infused plots and over the top issues, look no further my friends, because it has it all densely packed into bite sized pieces to easily digest.
The Tension: Not suspenseful, but somehow still tense, El Royale is like those exciting moments in a soap opera where a lot of things happen in a short amount of time. As a result, the tension gradually increases until the final act where it finally snaps and things really start to amp up, a great use of this technique, which when combined with the next like helps keep you into the film.
The Mystery: The trailers promised dirty, little secrets and that mystery of what is hiding in the closets of everyone also keeps you into the film. Each person has that slight little layer and it is the act of piecing this together that adds a little fun to this rather dense film.
The Twists/Turns: An even more impressive move, making some movies to really surprise me. While I didn’t necessarily jump, this movie came close to startling me a few times with the twists that it decided to take. In addition to adding a little spice to the movie, these twists helped push the story to new dynamics, further strengthening the character dynamics and keeping you on your toes. So get ready for a little bit of gasping at the decisions they make.
The Music: Yeah, I’m a sucker for a good soundtrack and El Royale’s juke box and guests contain some fun lyrics that represent the times and mood. Funk, Jazz, Soul, and a little Rock and Roll are there to tease your ears with a delightful melody that is cleverly infused into the mix. Not the high point I know, but what a great soundtrack nonetheless.
Imbalance of Characters: It’s seven detailed characters and you want them all on screen. El Royale has done this quite well with most, but there are at least two of the cast that were rather lackluster in their full involvement compared to others. The director and story team seemed to have one group to base most of the story around, and while interesting, was a little disappointing to not get more into the characters than what we got. I guess that’s where book formulations come in huh?
The Underwhelming Secret: While the individual secrets are engaging and interesting, the big secret of the hotel wasn’t quite as impressive. Perhaps it is the presentation, or maybe it is just how it gets semi lost in the characters themselves, but the big secret is only marginal in terms of surprise. I think a little more scene development or at least get some dialogue that stands out a little more in this already heavy dialogue movie.
More Suspense than Tension: Again, the tension was welcomed, but a little substitution of suspense to speed up the pace would have been my preference. A little more chasing and close calls in the pursuit of truth could have added some of the spice I think the movie needed to bring the full, mind blowing revelations to life.
The Pace: By far the movie’s big limitation for me is the length meeting the pace. You have to be ready to invest in characters, and almost like reading a book, be ready to focus more on the details and theatrics instead of the special effects and action that Hollywood loves. While I appreciate this, the movie dragged a little too much for me and sometimes got too in depth to keep me awake. In addition, there are times it crawled for me and the ending of shoving in those last bits of detail wasn’t the best the ordering for me to be super impressed. As such, I would have liked to have more excitement or thirty minutes cut from the overall time to find that happy medium.
The secret to this movie is, that the El Royale has a fantastic set of players to move around it’s weird, classic halls. With a character centric plot filled with tension, mystery and twists, the El Royale is a very close book in movie form I’ve seen. Yet, for those looking for a little more excitement and pizazz this movie is going to be tough to watch late at night because it slow and missing a little bit of flare I think it needed. So if you can handle 2.5 hours of heavy dialogue and drama, you’ve got the movie of the weekend for you, but if you need a little more Hollywood magic… you need to sit this one out.
My scores are:
Movie Overall: 6.5-7.0