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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Bad Times at the El Royale * * 1/2 Stars

Bad Times at the El RoyaleDirector: Drew Goddard
Year: 2018
Rated R
Rating: * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm

A few strangers check into an uninhabited hotel that sits on the border of California and Nevada. Within time, chaos ensues between said strangers in the form of stabbings, shootings, privacy invasions, and kin kidnappings. There's a kind of Twin Peaks fantasy flavor going on here. Oh and did I mention there's also a shirtless cult murderer involved? That's the overlong blueprint of the decently acted yet look-at-me personified, Bad Times at the El Royale. Yup, it's my latest review.

Image result for bad times at the el royale movie scenesStarring the likes of Jeff Bridges, Dakota Johnson, Lewis Pullman, and the slinky-strutting Chris Hemsworth, "Bad Times" equaled "mixed" times for me at the theater. I will say this though. The film gave me a new appreciation for The Mamas & the Papas ditty "Twelve Thirty" and of course, Deep Purple's "Hush".

Bad Times at the El Royale with a running time of 142 minutes, could've been trimmed down by at least a half hour. It's a fire and brimstone flick that gives the year 1970 a reason to reach its equivocated "Waterloo". Basically, "Bad Times" is part Hateful Eight, part 1985's Clue, part Death Proof, and part Pulp Fiction (look for numerous title cards, some graphic violence, 1960's restaurant signage, and skewed timelines).

Image result for bad times at the el royale movie scenesDirector Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods) becomes an effective modus operandi behind the camera. He fashions "Bad Times" as scorched noir, with a 60's/70's Rat Pack look, a forced confrontational pull, and a scintillating jukebox soundtrack comprised of timeless oldies. It's a shame however that Drew's storytelling skills and screenplay are too thinly stretched out to encapsulate such a prolonged production.

Bottom line: Bad Times at the El Royale is the ultimate exercise in style over substance or Tarantino mimicking over natural distinctiveness. It's a "Royale" with cheese that doesn't quite melt all its flavors. Rating: 2 and a half stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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