Review: Bad Times At El Royale Is Worth The Early Check-In

Bad Times At El Royale pits seven strangers in a rundown hotel with plenty of secrets among them.  Over the course of one fateful night, everyone will have a last shot at redemption – before everything goes to hell. Directed and written by Drew Goddard, Bad Times At El Royale stars Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, and Dakota Johnson.

Bad Times At El Royale Trailer:

The Good:

I think one of the most intriguing and captivating aspects of this film has to be the crazy tone that it sets from the very beginning. There’s a light-hearted feel that’s blended with some subtle humor for the most part. Thankfully, the film doesn’t rely too heavily on trying to be overly funny because there are some dramatic moments as well. Director/Writer Drew Goddard found an excellent balance within both the serious and humorous tones.

As for the plot, Bad Times At El Royale takes its time to unravel the layers to the story. There are a number of twists and turns throughout the entire film, and many of them will surely be shocking. As a matter of fact, those surprising moments are exactly what makes this movie unique because just when you think you’ve figured something out, an unexpected moment will jolt you out of your seat. When you account for the ongoing mystery and the unexpected scenes that develop, you can’t help but to stay engaged until the very end.

Another thing to appreciate in this film was the grounded setting. Not only was this set in the 60’s, but the setting fed into the plot in a very complimentary way. Many of the situations or even character interactions made so much more sense given the time setting.

I would have to say that the ensemble cast drives this movie at every moment. The array of characters each have a story; and what makes this movie work is how their stories overlap in different ways.  Best of all, the individual performances from many of the actors is something to take note. My personal favorite was Jon Hamm as he was probably the most entertaining character given his natural charm and wit. Jeff Bridges’ performance was an interesting one because at various moments he may give you mixed emotions about how to feel about him. However, the star of the show is probably Cynthia Erivo. Her character, “Darlene”, was on full display when it came to her talent. I thought it was really good writing to have her talent be used in a unique way that still fit within the story.

The Bad:

As mentioned before, this movie has a bunch of interesting characters and many different shocking moments in the film. However, there are A LOT of stories and backgrounds. At some point the movie just feels like it’ll never end. Just when you think there will be some type of resolution, and then BAM!…another story. At my screening, you could hear almost a collective groan mixed with laughter because this movie just refused to complete itself. It gives off the impression that Bad Times At El Royale would’ve worked far better as a TV series rather than a feature length film.

Despite the many shocking twists and turns that the story has, when you stop to think about it, there isn’t much depth to the story. After learning about the characters, only a a few had a satisfying sense of closure to their story. So you either feel a bit cheated or unsatisfied when we have to move on to yet another person’s story as the film progresses.

Only other slight issue is that this movie felt like it was doing a bit too much pandering for certain reasons. On one hand, Chris Hemsworth’s character made sense in regards to his mentality, motivations and actions. On the other hand, he seemed like he was just there to be eye candy for those who enjoy seeing him with his shirt off. I understand some of that is marketing, because I certainly didn’t complain when Halle Berry went for a quick swim in that James Bond movie. However, this time around it felt a bit too obvious and too excessive to find any reason to show off his body.

The Verdict:

Bad Times At El Royale is a fun, mystery filled movie that’s sure to entertain you. It almost felt like a Quentin Tarantino film without as much dialogue and swearing. As a matter of fact, it kind of reminds me of The Hateful Eight. So if you enjoyed that, then this will be right up your alley. Feel free to give Bad Time at El Royale a shot in theaters and enjoy.

Genre:  Mystery, Thriller
Director: Drew Goddard
Writer: Drew Goddard
Stars: Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson

Bad Times At El Royale is in theaters now.  Be sure to follow E-Man’s Movie Reviews on Facebook, Subscribe on YouTube, or follow me on Twitter/IG @EmansReviews for even more movie news and reviews!

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About Emmanuel "E-Man" Noisette

Emmanuel is a Chicago film critic who founded Eman's Movie Reviews. He freelances as a writer and video content creator for sites such as MovieTickets.com. Be sure to join the other 33K+ fans on his Facebook Fan Page for even more movie opinions and fun. Feel free to contact him with any professional inquiries: [email protected]