8/10 Even though this film is not for mainstream audiences and failed to generate much heat at the box office, don’t let that fool you. “Bad Times at the El Royale” is a clever, well written and fun thrill ride. The cast is dynamic and everyone plays their part well. The soundtrack takes you back and has some really solid numbers that help set the mood. The production design and costume design expertly transports you back to the late 1960s and the era suits this film very well and adds a layer of fun to it. The biggest draw to the film is that it is an original story. Not a sequel, remake, reboot or based off of any previously existing material, this film marks Drew Goddard’s second movie that he has directed after the underrated “Cabin in the Woods” which was another twist on a familiar genre. You can definitely feel the influence of Tarantino in this film (the non-linear plot from “Pulp Fiction”, the chapters from “Kill Bill”, the contained environment of “Reservoir Dogs”, not being afraid to kill off major characters, etc.) but he doesn’t go so far as to rip him off, but rather, pay homage to, just as Tarantino does himself. The cast is having fun and unknown Cynthia Erivo, steals the show as a singer and proves that she can sing as well as she can act. I like that they went for the R rating and didn’t tone down the film for the PG-13, mass audience. The violence is realistic and well done without being over the top. There are several emotional moments and some twists and turns that leave you guessing and/or surprised. Characters are memorable and the conclusion to the film is a satisfying one. The pacing travels along at the perfect speed due to the strong editing. The only negatives this film has are very minor. You can definitely feel how it is influenced by other films, the soundtrack, although solid, almost has too much music on it, etc. The complaints are very minor as this is a fun, well written, original time that more people should check out. Give this movie a go and get ready for good times at the El Royale.
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