Bad Times At The El Royale

I have never had a bad time at a place called an El Royale. Just saying, for some sort of context. I haven’t been to any El Royales as far as I know. So neither good nor bad times have been had at any El Royales. I am an El Royale virgin. Or at least, I was before I saw this movie, Bad Times At the El Royale.

Alright, now that the nonsensical first paragraph, overall this felt like a movie that would be really enjoyable. I didn’t know what to expect, but I liked the cast of characters and thought it could have some really fun and interesting scenes.

After seeing so many duds lately, and great films, I needed something that would just be entertaining. I really wanted this to fill that genre gap in my movie watching schedule.

Dancing
It did fill a Hemsworth sized whole in my heart. And that is a very large whole.

At the El Royale? Well, it used to be a happening spot. Lively nights, plenty of guests, and a lot of raunchy shenanigans. This hotel is on the border of Nevada and California. So it has a more expensive and classy side and a gambling side. A side for all the types who may want to visit. Now the hotel is almost in rambles. The front desk is basically just one person (Lewis Pullman), who also is the cleaning man, the bartender, and everything. A one man show.

And tonight? There will be some guests. We have Darlene Sweet (Cynthia Erivo), a potential singing star who has a secret. We have Father Daniel Flynn (Jeff Bridges), who seems to be losing his mind, and a man with a secret. There is (Jon Hamm), someone who really wants the Honeymoon suite, because he has a secret. There is the vulgar and unfriendly (Dakota Johnson), who clearly has a secret.

A lot of secrets, and a lot of bad stuff coming together. How are Chris Hemsworth, Cailee Spaeny, and Nick Offerman involved in the plot? Well, that’s a secret.

Raining
I’M SORRY. DID YOU THINK THIS PICTURE SPACE WOULD BE GIVEN TO SOMETHING THAT IS NOT SHIRTLESS?

Did you know that Bad Times at the El Royale is over 140 minutes long? Shit, this might as well be a Marvel movie at this point. Now of course if a movie is engaging and fantastic, the time doesn’t matter. BT at the ER is in fact entertaining with some cool scenes. It has nice songs/soundtracks to encompass the scenes. It is told out of order from multiple perspectives to help unravel the mysteries and keep things fresh. It is really impossible to guess where it is going and how it will end. And yet, it also feels way too long.

Sure, different perspectives is fun, but that does mean we have to see some scenes multiple times. And there is a lot of backstory at times that are cool for building characters, and at the same time, not always necessary.

I really enjoyed Hamm in this film. He was a combination of some of his previous roles and it was definitely a good fit for him. Potentially it can be used as an audition for an eventual super hero! Johnson was acting like someone completely different in this film and it was refreshing. Erivo knocked it out of the park for me in the film, she was the real star, in so many talented ways. And hey, Pullman was interesting as the, well, lobby boy. I actually thought it was maybe Tom Holland pushing some boundaries for most of the movie.

BT at the ER is a fun film, a different film, a Quentin Tarantino lite film, and one that will please a lot of fans. Especially those of Hemsworth. It just needed a lot more editing and maybe a more focused outcome by the end.

2 out of 4.

Pacific Rim: Uprising

A few years ago, Oscar Winner Guillermo del Toro directed a fun little giant monster movie named Pacific Rim, that was meant with not real acclaim, but most people admitted it was at least a bit fun.

I remember going to the opening night release, a theater full of guys, and my now wife being the only (presumed) lady in the audience. It was a fun experience. It had a lot of fun characters and great actors, some of which hammed it up sure, but they put an end to the goddamn apocalypse.

This next film, Pacific Rim: Uprising, has no del Toro directing it, was put off of the line up indefinitely a year back, and is just now finally coming back. It is set later, so we can have a mostly new cast, and uhhh, I dunno. I guess it is about monsters and robot stuff still.

Battlebots
I think I will just refer to them now as battlebots.

Set ten years after the first film, the humans have won the war, no more alien sightings, and they are just living their lives. Some areas have never been rebuilt on the coast, others are back to normal. The Jaeger program is still kicking around, building a few machines and training new recruits just in case another attack comes. But for the most part, they don´t do a lot.

Jake Pentecost (John Boyega) thought about living up to his father´s legacy, but instead he would rather live in an abandoned city, stealing Jaeger parts and other items for junk food and dollar bills. Hey, YOLO and stuff.

But during a theft gone wrong, he ran into a younger girl, Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny) who built her own very tiny Jaeger on her own stolen parts, small enough to be run by a single person, not two! They get into trouble, arrested, and now Jake has a choice. Join the Jaeger Pilot program (again!) or, you know, jail. His older ¨sister¨ Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) is sort of leading the thing again, so she gave him that totally not forced option.

Long story short, this movie has a lot of cadet training, and worrying about the future of the Jaeger program. Will they switch to drones? Why waste money at all? What did the Kaiju want? And why is there a rouge Jaeger running around, kicking ass and killing people? Oh wait, what?

Also starring Burn Gorman and Charlie Day reprising their roles, along with other newcomers like Tian Jing, Jin Zhang, Adria Arjona, and a loaf of bread. I mean Scott Eastwood.

People
Well, if anything Eastwood is an incredibly attractive looking loaf of bread.

¨Hi, my name is Pacific Rim: Uprising! Allow me to make a film full of boring cliches and not a lot of fun action!¨

Boring cliches you say? Well, we got a son who doesn´t want to associate with his dad´s trade beside his knack for it. We got in general, cadet training programs of teenagers (with attitude!) who aren´t doing as well as hoped. But you know by the end, those same kids are going to have to be the ones who save the day. The band of misfits who struggled and grew together, not only learning how to be heroes, but to…love.

Other mistakes this sequel wanted to make was killing off old characters in dumb ways just so we can focus on the fun spunky youths more. It took WAY too long to get to some goddamn robot versus monster fighting action, which is what we signed up for in this film franchise. We had to see robots fight for each other for awhile, and obvious plot twists instead. Timing was very strange throughout the film, with the implication they did a lot of things fast that felt like weeks of work, despite having a huge time crunch to do it.

But hey, I won´t completely shit on it. Here are some pros. 1) The final fight was long (and really our only robot/monster battle), but entirely during the day, so you know, you could mostly understand what happened. 2) The Jaeger battle armor to control them didn´t have boob plates for the ladies. And, 3) There was a bit of talk about geology! Not a lot of it, and not necessarily accurate, but still, geology, what fun!

1 out of 4.