Jan 082019

Bad Times at the El Royale is hardly a perfect movie and it does seem like writer-director Drew Goddard channeling his inner Quentin Tarantino, yet I found this drama-thriller thoroughly entertaining ensemble, headlined with fine performances by Jeff Bridges, Chris Hemsworth and newcomer Cynthia Erivo.



Bad Times at the El Royale

Genre(s): Suspense/Thriller, Drama, Crime
Fox | R – 141 min. – $34.99 | January 1, 2019

Date Published: 01/08/2019 | Author: The Movieman

Directed by: Drew Goddard
Writer(s): Drew Goddard (written by)
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Cailee Spaeny, Chris Hemsworth, Lewis Pullman, Nick Offerman, Shea Whigham
Features: Featurette, Gallery, Trailers
Slip Cover: Yes
Digital Copy: Yes
Formats Included: Blu-ray, DVD
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 7.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.39
Subtitles: English SDH
Disc Size: 42.94 GB
Total Bitrate: 34.56 Mbps
Codecs: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A

Twentieth Century Fox Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.

THE MOVIE — 3.75/5

Note: This review contains some MAJOR PLOT SPOILERS so readers beware.

No doubt Drew Goddard is a creative filmmaker, making a splash with his debut film, The Cabin in the Woods which, for the most part, was an effective science fiction-thriller-comedy, and while it kind of lost a bit of its luster in the third act, it was still rather entertaining. Now comes his follow-up, Bad Times at the El Royale where Goddard I guess channels his inner Quentin Tarantino with an ensemble of mysterious character held in one location (similar to The Hateful Eight). El Royale was a solid thriller even with a finale that wasn’t quite as satisfying with everything that led up to it.

The year is 1969. The El Royale hotel is located right along the California-Nevada border, one side in California, the other in Nevada. In its heyday it was a hopping place, but now is pretty much a ghost hotel, managed by one man, Miles Miller (LEWIS PULLMAN). But now the place has a few new guests: Father Daniel Flynn (JEFF BRIDGES), salesman Laramie Sullivan (JON HAMM), singer Darlene Sweet (CYNTHIA ERIVO) and mystery woman Emily Summerspring (DAKOTA JOHNSON). Each of them has a secret, as does the El Royale when Sullivan discovers a hidden passageway with two-way mirrors looking into the rooms. Then enter Billy Lee (CHRIS HEMSWORTH), a Charles Manson like messiah who has come to the El Royale to reclaim something… or someone… stolen from him.

In terms of acting, no surprise Jeff Bridges is still hella full of intrigue. Though the bigger surprise was newcomer Cynthia Erivo who made her feature debut in Widows and, if it was her real voice, is an amazing singer. I also absolutely loved Chris Hemsworth in a smallish role filled with both charisma and utter terror. The others served well from Jon Hamm in an all-too-small of a role and Dakota Johnson proving indeed it was the poor writing, and likely boredom with the role for the Fifty Shades franchise, that she is actually a halfway decent actress.

On the technical front, the 1960s production design, along with the split between California and Nevada styles in the El Royale lobby, was beautiful looking as did most of the sets, to the point I wouldn’t mind seeing a real retro hotel, with the modern amenities. Beyond that, it is finely photographed by Seamus McGarvey whose extensive career included The Hours, Atonement, The Avengers, The Last Showman and… Fifty Shades of Grey (seriously, how did this get such competent people in the industry?). Like those others, even Fifty Shades, this is a gorgeous looking movie.

Bad Times at the El Royale is writer/director Drew Goddard’s ode to the film noir genre and the film’s strongest suit comes in the first half as the mystery unfolds and while the third act doesn’t exactly hold the same suspense or intrigue, I still found it wholly engaging. That said, I’m not entirely sure how much replay value this has or how it will stand the test of time but, along with The Cabin in the Woods, will revisit in the next few months.



This release comes with a semi-glossy slip cover and inside is a redemption code for the Digital HD copy.

Making Bad Times at the El Royale (28:35; HD) takes viewers behind-the-scenes with interviews by members of the cast and crew including Producer/Writer/Director Drew Goddard, Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson, Chris Hemsworth and more. Nice to see a making-of that isn’t just some short promotional featurette.

There’s also a Gallery (3:13l HD) filled with set and prop photos, Teaser Trailer (2:05; HD) and the Theatrical Trailer (2:03; HD).

PreviewWidows, Red Sparrow, Sorry to Bother You



VIDEO – 4.75/5

Bad Times at the El Royale is presented in its original 2.39 widescreen aspect ratio and given a great looking 1080p high-definition transfer. As I previously mentioned, the cinematography is absolutely amazing and it shines through here in HD. Detail is relatively sharp and colors are fairly bright and the black levels, such as the scenes “outside” at night are stark but any elements still were discernible.

AUDIO – 4.75/5

The disc comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track, and although I might be beating a dead horse on this, but no idea why Fox didn’t just use the Dolby Atmos from the 4K UHD release… In any case, this one is more than serviceable providing clear dialogue from the center channel and there is excellent depth for the gunfire, or something as simple as a rain shower.


OVERALL – 3.75/5

Overall, Bad Times at the El Royale is hardly a perfect movie and it does seem like writer-director Drew Goddard channeling his inner Quentin Tarantino, yet I found this drama-thriller thoroughly entertaining ensemble, headlined with fine performances by Jeff Bridges (no surprise), Chris Hemsworth and newcomer Cynthia Erivo. This Blu-ray release offers up great video/audio transfers and a so-so selection of bonus features.




Check out some more 1080p screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.

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