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.

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.


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.

Fifty Shades Freed

With Fifty Shades Freed coming out, it makes it the second trilogy to end in 2018 already, and it is only halfway through February! The other one was of course Maze Runner: The Death Cure, which was also complete shit.

I don’t know a lot about the point of this trilogy, but looking at the ad spots online, on youtube, on Hulu, the one thing I realized is that whatever the plot was, they certainly did not want to show it to the viewer. They just wanted us to see people being rich, doing some sexy stuff, and being rich. Rich, sex, rich.

Maybe that is the main point of the movie? Maybe they expect the plot to just maintain “oh, their relationship!” and it be an okay story overall.

Is the wedding the climax, or just the beginning?

The movie begins with the saying of I do from our leads (Which is answers that question). After all, he proposed at the end of the second film, we don’t need to see them planning for it and all that shit. Let’s just see Anastasia become Anastasia Grey (Dakota Johnson) and Christian (Jamie Dornan) stays the same. Which is one of those plots about the movie, him staying the same.

Now we can watch them traveling the world, honeymooning, sexing, being rich. You know. But some guy goes and steals some data from Grey’s company, cutting it short! Oh snap! Now we have some man, or some lady, trying to do bad things to them, and he has “no idea at all why!”. Security is beefed up and some things are a little bit less sexy.

But don’t worry, we still have time to deal with other issues. Like how they never even talked about when they would want kids or if they wanted kids at all. Perfect thing to do post marriage. On that note, that weird ex mistress of his that taught him all of his kinks? You’d think that would be important, but in this movie, it is basically just dealt with in a single scene and ignored the whole way through after it. Yay!

These people are in this movie: Brant Daughtery, Bruce Altman, Eloise Mumford, Eric Johnson, Hiro Kanagawa, Kristen Alter, Luke Grimes, Marcia Gay Harden, Max Martini, and Rita Ora.

Will the SeaDoo scene be the new boat scene from the previous film?

This film is shit, and everyone knows it is shit. The people who put it out know it is shit. The reason the plot is hard to tell is because there is no discernible plot in the whole movie. Bad plot reasons for man to be bugging them. Characters act stupid and don’t understand what is being told to them, and intentionally characters put off obviously important information until it is too late. We have a couple who still doesn’t make sense together, who just get really kinky around each other I guess. Whatever happens never really looks like love.

We have a main character male who is emotionally and physically abusive at times, yes still in this movie. We have a cartoon bad guy. We have a scene where someone gets slapped twice and kicked in the stomach causing a short term coma, some how.

The infamous boat scene was recreated almost with a house they go to in Colorado. Watching the car go up the driveway, we then see several angles around the house, switch switch switch. It is still full of romantic (maybe? hard to tell when it all sounds the same) pop music, to fill any sort of space they might have for character growth.

And just in case you forgot the other films, near the end, we get to see a long montage of the first two movies, of their romance scenes and travels. Yes, we still see that damn boat again in this film. They did it just to troll me.

And then at some point the movie ends, without resolving one of the major plot issues their relationship had with his ex mistress lady he couldn’t ever stop confiding in. Hooray!

0 out of 4.

Fifty Shades Darker

Two years ago, we were finally given Fifty Shades of Grey. After years of anticipation. And we were given an R rated film that wasn’t as intense as the book, when all we wanted was an NC-17 penis showing flick.

It was bad, but it could have been worse. And strangely enough, the parody, Fifty Shades of Black was just as good as Grey. Meaning they both were bad, but just as bad as each other.

And now we have Fifty Shades Darker. Which according to my wife is a better movie, focusing less on people getting beat and more on a story. But books don’t always translate well into film, so I will note I am expecting the worst and hoping for…well, the worst as well.

His hand is in or near her vagina.

Unfortunately this movie does not begin inside the elevator as Anna (Dakota Johnson) leaves Christian (Janie Dornan) for good. No, it is some time later, maybe even months. Christian sends her gifts, she ignores them. And instead of working at a hardware store, she has a job as an assistant to a fiction editor, Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson) in Seattle.

Life is good for Anna now, but she still misses Christian, just can’t handle his paddle. Anna also keeps seeing a creepy girl (Bella Heathcote) watching her every once in awhile, with bandages on her wrists. Blah blah, eventually Anna talks to Christian again, and immediately wants to hop on his dick some more. No more contract this time, just a slow relationship with immediate passionate sex and foreplay. And despite saying no rules, there are still some rules. Like he can’t just hurt her. And she can’t touch his chest. Oh okay.

Oh, plot. There is a plot. Yes. Okay, the boss of Anna’s is an obvious jerk and jealous of Christian. The creepy girl is one of Christian’s past subs still obsessed with him. And there is Elena Lincoln (Kim Basinger), the woman who taught Christian about sex, involved with his life and being a bitch too. And hey! Christian has a new security dude (Max Martini). Anna still overreacts to a lot of things, and Christian still doesn’t know how to carry on a conversation.

Oh, and of course flashbacks that imply that Christian’s fetishes are actually the results of abuse, abandonment, and things he has to change and not something Anna has to accept.

Also returning in their previous film roles, no matter how brief are: Marcia Gay Harden, Andrew Airlie, Luke Grimes, Rita Ora, Eloise Mumford, and Victor Rasuk.

Now you cannot see their shame or anxiety.

There are so many things wrong with this movie, I knew it would be an easy and fun analysis to write. First major issue is of course that it ended up being worse than the first film! How was that possible?!

Darker decided to go a different route with the story. No, there is still some level of eroticism. But in way of public acts and sex beads, versus more traditional paddling used in the first film. A film can have all of this and still be a good film, but unfortunately instead of going for a good film, they decide to just take any and all important plot points and resolve them as quickly as possible. They must have decided that these scenes only exist as a way of transitioning between soft core porn scenes. But you know, still quite softer than anything else that exists. Because it is just an R rated movie with “Some graphic nudity” (meaning no, we still don’t see penis).

Now lets go into the scenes between sex. Well, there are technically some important plot points that occur in the film. Like Anna’s boss being all rapey. And right after the threat exists, in the next scene he is already fired and then she has his job. Boom, resolved. She has to go to a meeting in his place, we then hear a stupid idea, her obvious and better idea, boom, they like it, she is great at her job.

There is a helicopter crash. And within the next three minutes, despite being in a mountain wilderness, they area not only found to be alive but hey, back at the house and just seemingly ignoring that it even happened. There is a creepy girl, who appears a few times, and boom, she is subdued, lets move on.

This means the plot of the film is just their relationship, without a viable end goal. And with our ending, it isn’t as bad as the first one, but it feels like a terrible cartoon, with returning characters looking badly menacing. Shit, it is worse than a terrible cartoon, it is more like a bad soap opera (not a good soap opera).

Obviously the acting is still bad. Anna is still annoying and overreacts to everything. Christian is a character who has no ability to express feelings, so Dornan is wooden.

Oh, and yeah, the movie begins to imply the only reason someone would be into BDSM type things is thanks to physical abuse and sexual abuse in the past. You know, instead of regular fetishes. Yay, demonizing real, mostly normal people!

0 out of 4.

A Bigger Splash

As a big man, I would like to think I was an expert on big splashes. It kind of just comes with the territory. Now, my belly flopping days are definitely over, as any attack to my stomach has me keeling over, but there is still a lot of back and ass available to turn your regular pool into a tidal pool.

That being said, I had no fucking clue what A Bigger Splash movie was about going in.

From the cast, it looked weird. From the director, it looked foreign. From the quick synopsis it looked pretentious.

However, had they told me there would be dancing, I would have watched it even sooner!

In this world, you would have heard the name Marianne Lane (Tilda Swinton). She was a big time rock superstar and world famous. Man could she sing. You just won’t hear a lot of that in this film, because she had some vocal problems and had to have some surgery. So now she is staying in a nice villa in a small island village in Italy to rest and get away from it all. She is staying with her long time boyfriend, Paul De Smedt (Matthias Schoenaerts).

This vacation is perfect for gratuitous amounts of sex and just being naked. But then they get found out. An old friend, Harry (Ralph Fiennes) figured out where they were staying. Old friend meaning producer and former boyfriend of Marianne. Despite his outgoing personality and awkward party past, they invite him to stay in their house. He also brought his 22 year old daughter, Penelope (Dakota Johnson), whom Harry just found out even existed.

A troubled past, the vacation setting, and not really knowing everyone lead to some very awkward circumstances. Especially when characters feel the past has not yet been fully settled.

Also featuring Corrado Guzzanti as a police officer, who looks like an older Italian Michael Shannon.

Shit, even I’d be willing to eat outside if ti looked like that.

First thing I learned is that A Bigger Splash is not just some weirdly Italian original film, it is a remake of an actual Italian film from 1969, La Piscine. Typical Hollywood, always remaking shit. (This is a joke, because this is not a Hollywood movie and no one fucking knows about La Piscine.)

Secondly, look at all the naked people. There are four famous people in this movie, and you will see them all. Some more than others. I got to see Ralph Fiennes’ Lobby Boy, if you catch my drift. I feel like everything Dakota Johnson has been in lately involves her just being naked half the time. It is almost ridiculous. If you hate the site of a naked body, you will not want to see this film.

Thirdly, Fiennes danced incredibly and I wish it was more of the film.

Those are all the weird points I had to make. If I had to talk about the movie itself, I would probably mention that the cinematography is gorgeous. And by gorgeous, I of course mean the setting. But also the camera was just straight up weird and all over the place in the film, almost a fifth main character.

The acting is top notch. The situations are awkward. The soundtrack and sound effects were on top.

I think my biggest problem is that it just felt so incredibly long. It is a little over 2 hours and the last 20-30 minutes seem to drag. Based on this type of movie, after the climatic events, I expected almost every scene after it would be the last. But no, it kept going and it really brought down the film for me.

You would be hard pressed to find a weirder movie this year, that also takes place in a realistic setting with realistic circumstances.

3 out of 4.

Black Mass

Johnny Depp is the type of guy who is always working and trying out new bizarre characters. It gave him some early fame but lately people are getting tired of him. Mortdecai gets to be one of the worst films of the year, as people assumed it was just a mustache obsessed Johnny Depp playing Johnny Depp.

But then there was Black Mass. Based on trailers and word of mouth, we were told this would be Depp acting, playing a real character, and not the same old shit as before. Something new by technically making him play a more normal role! A sadistic mean and manipulative person, but a real guy nonetheless. No super annoying quirks, no autism, just a dude who didn’t mind killing people.

The acting was supposed to be so great that people were going to remember how great Depp could be when he gives a shit. I am sure he gives a lot of shit when doing his latest Burton film, but after awhile, it just looks like he has no more cares left in the world and he would rather just sit there and shit money. (Assuming they don’t flop, which they have been as well!)

That’s the face I make when I shit normal things. Can only imagine other objects.

Black Mass is the story of James ‘Whitey’ Bulger (Depp), America’s Most Wanted criminal for a long time. You may have heard about him for many reasons. Or maybe you watched the documentary (or read my review of), Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger, which was out a year or two ago on Netflix. It went over his crimes and the trial once they eventually caught the guy (spoilers), while the film version specifically only talks about his crimes for the most part until he started to hide elsewhere in the USA.

Like most crime movies, this one also takes place in the scariest city in the USA for people who like grammar, Boston. Bulger and his gang (some members played by Rory Cochrane, Jesse Plemons, and W. Earl Brown) are criming up the streets and kicking butt. They basically control all of South Boston. But there are rivals, and there are conflicts of interest.

You know, like John Connolly (Joel Edgerton), when he returns to Boston, his home, but now a member of the FBI. He is friends with Whitey, despite the mostly common knowledge of his criminal activities. Eventually he convinces Whitey that he should become an informant, because there are other bad people out there who he can rat out to get them in trouble. Doing so, that would allow him to gain even more power on the streets, having the FBI in his back pockets. Oh hey, Whitey’s actual brother (Benedict Cumberbatch) is also part of the Massachusetts State Senate. Pretty sneaky stuff.

This becomes a win win. Whitey gains gang power, and the FBI catches a lot of bad guys. It isn’t until things get more and more violent that some people out there begin to get fidgety and want to bring in Whitey as well, because something very sketch is going down with his relationship with the FBI.

Also featuring Dakota Johnson, Julianne Nicholson, Adam Scott, Kevin Bacon, David Harbour, Peter Sarsgaard and Corey Stoll.

A gangster, an FBI agent, and a David Harbour walk into a restaurant…

I had a BlackWeek on my website, and I was most upset that Black Mass came out so much later than the other Black films. I was excited to see Depp back in greatness, although I think his role from Tusk and Yoga Hosers is actually pretty sweet.

And then I watched Black Mass and it all felt unoriginal. Just because I watched a documentary about Whitey doesn’t mean I remember a lot about him. The only thing I really remember was him being a rat and getting the other gangsters in trouble while he got away for decades. Black Mass should have been a nice companion piece to the documentary, giving us intense recreations of some of his worst work and making Whitey seem like a real person.

Even though I didn’t know about his individual crimes, the reason it felt unoriginal is just that it felt like every other gangster movie before it. Sure, plot wise it had the original true element of actually working with the FBI, because the real life plot is so silly no one accept it as something plausible in a fictional film. Stylistically, it felt the same. Elements of the film seemed to be bad recreations of Goodfellas.

Yes, the acting was there. Depp, Edgerton, Sarsgaard all did wonderful jobs. Cumberbatch sounded funny and I wanted more scenes with him because of it.

But I would hope that the film didn’t feel like the gangster films of the past and tried to make a truly unique experience for this real life story. I guess I could also be biased, because I also have recently seen Animal Kingdom (with Edgerton), and it was definitely a unique gangster film.

1 out of 4.

Fifty Shades Of Grey

Let’s start with the obvious.

Literally everyone at this point knows that Fifty Shades Of Grey started out as some sort of Twilight fan fiction. People liked it, she changed the characters names a bit, gave them some new jobs and that was about it. Literally even the setting is the same. When watching, I could easily imagine Edward and Bella in each scene. The mannerisms, whatever. Yeah.

Either way. That is besides the point.

The other thing I heard about Fiddy Shades is that it is a poor portrayal of BDSM subculture and what this movie really promotes is sexual abuse and lies. Oh good. Perfect date night film then. There are also issues with the rating itself (which I will get to later) and apparently the director and book author argued a bunch on set.

Sexy Sex SexSex
I’m sorry, I can’t hear your criticisms over these chiseled abs and bare skin.

Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) met under unusual circumstances. She interviewed him at his company because he was going to be giving the commencement speech at her graduation. He is a billionaire. She is a senior English Lit major who is doing the interview for her sick roommate (Eloise Mumford). But he sees something in her and she mostly just thinks he is hot.

However, she is also very inexperienced. Despite having average looks, she is a virgin, saving herself for the one she really wants. Fuck this pretense. Christian wants to spank dat ass, and Anastasia doesn’t know what she wants, outside of the fact that she wants Christian’s body too.

So he gives her a taste. Like, a dick taste. But does that get her hooked? No, not really. She knows about what he really wants, and he makes it perfectly clear. He has a contract, things up for negotiation, everything laid out on the table. But she doesn’t want a contract, she wants their relationship instead to be confusing and “normal” where things can happen without rules. In fact, the whole film she just leads him on instead, refusing to sign the contract, not because she doesn’t want to, but because she keeps going back and forth. Not that changing your mind is bad. But refusing to come to a decision for weeks is kind of annoying.

Also featuring the Grey-clan, like Marcia Gay Harden, Max Martini, and Rita Ora. I have been told the last person is a singer.

Red Rope
Grey isn’t the only color in the movie. Unless Red is a shade of Grey. I don’t know, I don’t “see color.”

First of all, I am definitely disappointed in the R rating. Boooo. You might wonder why? The only way it can go higher is the dreaded NC-17 rating, which major movie chains refuse to show! Only indie art house theaters! Well, obviously, an erotic novel for adults only with very graphic sex scenes should be that rating in movie form. But also, this was like, our ONE chance for the major movie chains to change their opinion. They know this is going to make money. They wouldn’t refuse a film version when the book was so hyped up. They would have caved and maybe we would have gotten more NC-17 movies in theaters in the future.

But yeah, missed opportunity.

As for the abuse part? I looked very hard. Christian never does anything to Anna that she does not agree to. Never. Sometimes it takes convincing, but real adult people are allowed to discuss things. Yes he is more experienced, but like in real relationships there will usually always be someone more experienced. If convincing someone to try new things sexually is abusive behavior, then man, I’d imagine most relationships are abusive.

At the same time, this doesn’t really put a good spotlight on the BDSM community, known for being very high on communication. Why not? Christian follows their rules pretty well it seems (despite Anna’s best attempts to muck things up), but they also made him an abused figure in his past who came from a crackhead mom. So they are also painting the picture that BDSM is “not right” and clearly it is due to bad experiences in his youth. Shit, looks like they are also trying to burn all bridges here.

Anyways, Dakota Johnson was very believable in her role, I guess, even if she is stupidly annoying the entire time. The character’s actions rarely make sense to me, but she acted great in it. Dornan had the serial killer look down I guess, but I thought he overacted his part.

In all reality, I thought the movie was okay for the most part. But the ending was down right terrible. Terrible in a “Hey, fuck you guys, you don’t get a complete story in this one, you have to watch two more movies to get a complete story.”

Cliffhangers are one thing. They can work well for a series. But if that series can’t even complete a fucking basic arc, then it is just filler pointlessness. I don’t know anything about how the rest of this story goes, but if it is like the first one, then I can safely assume it probably should have just been one movie and not fucking three.

Also, there were no dicks in the movie. Some bush on both ends, and maybe the start of a shaft once. This is what I assume you all really wanted to know.

1 out of 4.

Need For Speed

Need For Speed as a movie? Originally, I thought the idea was terrible. After all, most video games turned into movies are terrible. Although, with something as vague as a racing game with non-important plots, the only thing they really need to keep consistent is the race aspect.

Then they added Aaron Paul to the project. America’s sweetheart after his stint on Breaking Bad, ready to make his mark on the movie world. Now with his voice narrating the trailer, channeling his apparent inner Batman, this becomes a movie about more than racing. It becomes a movie about revenge.

And of course a rag tag group of friends overcoming the odds.

Tobey Marshall (Paul) is a small New York city mechanic and amateur racer. There was a falling out between him and Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper), who was able to leave the town and become a professional racer, even driving in the Indy 500. What happened? Well, it wasn’t ever really said, but it must have involved Anita (Dakota Johnson).

Needless to say, everyone is on edge when he comes to town. But he just wants them to fix up a very fancy car for him, offering them a quarter of the selling price. After fixing it up, they get into an argument, and agree to race for the entire profit of the car. Pete (Harrison Gilbertson) joins them too and they use very fancy European future cars! Well, Dino starts losing near the end, clips Pete, and Pete begins one of the longest craziest crashes I have ever seen. Seriously, the crash is more ridiculous than anything on The Blues Brothers.

Dino doesn’t go back to the crash, though. Tobey goes to jail, wrongfully accused of manslaughter. Once he gets out, two years later, he has two days to drive to LA to get accepted into a secret big time car race. During that race, he will enact his revenge on Dino, while hopefully also proving his innocence. How? Good question.

He has his crew with him (Scott MescudiRami MalekRamon Rodriguez), and Julia (Imogen Poots), a British car enthusiast. Also starring Michael Keaton as the mysterious Monarch who runs the mysterious race and a car racing internet show.

Also, some shit gets fucked up.

Need For Speed clocks in at 130 minutes, which is over two hours for you anti-math people out there. It features arguably four races. You know, your standard intro race, your plot causing race, your race across the country, and your secret invite only race. The largest one is of course the cross country one, featuring drivers trying to stop Tobey from getting to California thanks to Dino putting out a hit on him. Kind of ridiculous to publicly do it, being an “innocent” man and all.

Despite the long run time, it didn’t feel like it dragged on. It felt good for the characters to actually have passion and drive for something other than just racing. That’s right. There is a plot that matters in this racing movie. It is what Fast & Furious 7 has the potential to be (but looks like the screen writers are messing that up too).

I would say Need For Speed is a step in the right direction for the racing movie genre. It wasn’t secretly disguised as a super hero movie with cars. It was about racing and revenge. That is all. The chemistry between the actors was pretty good, and honestly, a lot of the plot felt unpredictable. Except for the cool helicopter scene in the trailer. I wish they didn’t spoil that, that would have been epic if I didn’t know it was about to happen the entire time.

Yeah, I liked it overall. Definitely made me want to “floor it” as I left the theater. I even considered for the first time in my life to buy a non-Mario Kart racing game, which is presumably what EA is hoping for with this movie.

3 out of 4.