Film Review of “Bad Times at the Old Royale”

Bad-Times-at-the-El-Royale-poster

Yep, it’s been a minute.  Why?  Because I heard Venom sucked.  Because seeing Night School is for people who barely have a GED.  Because I could care less about Crazy, Rich Asians than I care about than the homeless problem in Sudan.  The best film in September-Thanksgiving is like the NL East division winner, you get a playoff spot by being the best of the worst shitbox teams.  What else besides Halloween, Creed 2, Wreck it Ralph 2 and maybe Bohemian Rhapsody look good?  Johnny English?  Another garbage sequel that no one asked for.  So when the preview BTATOR came out, I thought that this has a shot of being decent.  Early positive reviews confirmed my thoughts so I figured, time to pony up 11 bucks to a matinee.  You may be thinking, “why not wait till movie pass picks it up?”  Because I don’t feel like waiting till the next election to see this film.  

A priest, singer, bellhop, vacuum salesman, runaway and her weird sister, and cult leader all stay at hotel that is split in half by state lines.  Cute idea but wish it played more into the plot. If you’re going to see this, you’ll going to say in 10 minutes, this is similar to Pulp Fiction.  Remember, nothing will top Pulp Fiction.  Don’t argue with me as that’s an infallible argument.  The stories are told in a circular fashion and from multiple angles.  Of course, this hotel has its own secrets and no one is who they seem who they are.  

Jeff Bridges plays Father Flynn, which is a cute nod to one of his early roles as Flynn from Tron.  Time and probably cigarettes have added to that gravelly voice of his; another 3 bottles of gin and he’s right into Sam Elliot vocal territory.  Hello avalanche of voiceover roles!  I did a double take with Dakota Johnson as she looks damn near exactly like Sophie Marceau.  Last I saw of her, she was in one of the worst Bond films of all time.  “The World is Not Enough” is in “A View to a Kill” territory.  Only saving graces of that piece of shit are Sophie and Denise Richards.  Goddamn, it’s a shame her looks became as bad as her acting.  Anyway, Dakota looks fantastic and kills it as a badass with a checkered past.  Jon “Footlong Dong” Hamm plays a vacuum salesman that turns out to be an FBI agent.  Mix in Lewis Pullman expertly playing a nebbishy bellhop and Cynthia Erivo playing a “Supremes-esque” background singer and you have a pretty solid cast of characters.

The problem with my review is so much is going on that I don’t want to spoil anything. I enjoyed a few curveballs and wait till Billy Lee (Chris Hemsworth) shows up. It’s a sadistic cult leader character that we haven’t seen yet.  And we’re used to Hemsworth shooting lighting and throwing hammers so it’s nice to see some range out of him.  My biggest complaint is this film begins drag at the 2 hour mark, ending at 2:21.  I think if they would’ve trimmed 15-20 minutes off of this, it would’ve felt much more concise.  Cut a little here and there and this would be a fantastic tale.  But this is a pretty damn good tale nonetheless.  Could you wait till Netflix, sure.  But if you’re looking to see something in the theater, I highly recommend this.  Otherwise, this is going to be a long season of banal shit.  

I give it a 7 out of 10.

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