Bad Times at the El Royale had such an amazing trailer. The impact it made on audiences early last summer made me think that we were going to have a major cult hit on our hands. Then, it hit and played a little too long. Fans of Goddard digged the style, while others wondered why we didn’t get more questions answered. Honestly, I felt it was a perfectly balanced crime film about the seedier aspects of the 1960s.
Drew Goddard has a style, but I’ve grown accustomed to it. Whether it’s Cloverfield, Cabin the Woods or The Martian…the man has held my focus for the better part of a decade. Now that he’s delving hard into 60s crime and aesthetic, of course I was going to love it. The music was a little too spot-on and the film has a little trouble knowing how to split its focus. That being said, when Bad Times at the El Royale shines…it shines like nothing else.
Lewis Pullman’s arc doesn’t get enough credit, but that’s because so much gets stolen from it to save the big reveal. What I enjoyed about the film has seemingly become a sweeping touchstone for the cinema of 2018. Futility will always overcome the most noble of attention. If you break from operational protocol, if you try to cheat your way to the top…something will always come back to snap you in the ass. It’s not karma, but something else. If I had to put a label on it, the best thing would be to call it hubris.
Jon Hamm gets whacked because he can’t stick to his job, Chris Hemsworth loses because his quirks overwhelm his control and Dakota Johnson fails because she can’t see her sister for who she is now. While the finale ends on a happy note, it still works. The spectre of Bridges’ problems still looms over him, as well as Cynthia Ervio. Even if you escape the El Royale, you just delayed your problems a little longer.
What you do next is up to you.
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