Movie Reviews

Published on October 5th, 2018 | by Josh Aja

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Bad Times At The El Royale

The El Royale Hotel sit directly on the California and Nevada border just outside of Lake Tahoe. In its heyday, the novelty hotel, vibrant and bustling with activity. Even getting visits from famous actors, singers and politicians. But by the 1960s those days had gone and now it is rundown and mostly vacant. Then on one fateful day a group of random strangers meet at the El Royale. There is a minister, Father Daniel Flynn (Jeff Bridges), on his way back from Oakland visiting his brother. Singer Darlene Sweet (Cynthia Erivo) who came to the El Royale because her midday casino singing gig in Reno didn’t pay enough for her to stay anywhere else. Then there is Laramie Seymour Sullivan (John Hamm) the vacuum salesman who talks fast and loud. His company does all the hotel bookings so he was stuck with the El Royale, but he is dead set on enjoying the luxurious Honeymoon Suite given the choices. Lastly, there is Emily (Dakota Johnson) she doesn’t say much besides she wants a room far away from the other guests. The mismatched group is all greeted by the bellhop/bar tender/service manager Miles (Lewis Pullman). All seems like a chance meeting of a group of travelers. But nothing is what it seems. By the nights end all manner of secrets will come out and all the guests’ lives will be in jeopardy.

El Royale is a well-crafted and executed mystery/thriller. Writer and Director Drew Goddard (The Martian) does a great job of telling an original story. It keeps you guessing to the end. The cast for the most part is really good. Chris Hemsworth (as Billy Lee) and Cailee Spaeny (as Ruth Summersping) have more underwhelming performances compared to the rest of the cast but still good. Cynthia Erivo, for me, had a great performance. I thought her voice was amazing and how her character was developed throughout the film was interesting and well done. The pace of the movie does start out somewhat slow but rapidly builds and overall is good. The film is set in the 1960s and definitely feels like of that era with the music, news stories, overall appearance of the hotel rooms, etc.

I enjoyed this film. I thought the way the story unfolded was interesting and original. One part that really occurred to be later is that you never really knew who the hero of the film was or would wind up being. When I thought I had it figured out something would happen to change my mind. Or maybe there was not really hero. The slow build up was a little long for me but otherwise it was a great movie theater experience.

4 out of 5


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