BAD TIMES At The El Royale is the second film from director Drew Goddard, his first was the brilliant Cabin In The Woods, the hilariously meta horror movie from 2012.
Since then he has been relatively quiet, so I was excited to see he had a moving coming out, and one with a really great trailer. Well, like so much in life in 2018 I was disappointed. This movie is way too long. It is two and half hours but it feels like four. There is also the feeling that, since 2012, Goddard has had a lot of great ideas, but tried to use them all in this film.
El Royale has a pretty fantastic cast of character actors - Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Chris Hemsworth, and the great Jeff Bridges. The best performance though, despite all the big names is relative newcomer and star of the stage Cynthia Erivo. Their performances are the strongest aspect of the film, all the actors throw themselves into this, so it is a shame they are let down by the bloated story.
To give you an idea of how overstuffed this movie is, here is a brief overview of the storylines: A talented singer with an abusive producer who wants special favours for her big break; a Vietnam veteran with PTSD; an FBI agent investigating the JFK assassination and bribery; a bank robber trying to track down his hidden loot; and to top it all off, a full blown Manson type family cult, tracking down cult runaways. There are also passing references to domestic abuse, Alzheimers, and illegal wiretapping.
This movie is like the menu of a restaurant in the Costa del Sol. It specialises in nothing and has absolutely everything - pizza, fajitas, Irish stew, and a tikka masala with a pitiful pompadom. In my opinion this would have made a excellent mini series on Netflix or HBO. After Pulp Fiction there were a heap of Tarantino clones - Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead, 8 Heads In A Duffle Bag (one thing all these have in common are really terrible names ), etc. These were passable, but lacked the humour and polish of what they imitated. The problem is when you try to get in on this genre you are expected to have dialogue at an extremely high standard, with the plot and twists of similar quality. The other problem is, its 2018 why am I watching a Pulp Fiction lite?