Bad Times at the El Royale – Blu-ray Review

Bad Times at the El Royale Poster

Bad Times at the El Royale is the second film by writer/director Drew Goddard. Even though Cabin in the Woods put a spin on the traditional horror film, Bad Times at the El Royale feels more like a Tarantino film. Much like Tarantino, Goddard uses chapters, a focus on characters, bloody violence, and a killer soundtrack to tell the mystery of the El Royale. Unfortunately, the mystery of the El Royale isn’t the edge-of-your-seat thriller that one might expect. Although the story is compelling, you start to speculate on how the film is going to play out. Whatever speculation you have is most likely what will happen in the film.

Regardless, Drew Goddard crafted a film that warrants multiple rewatches for the number of small details in the film. Each viewing will make you see details that will play a part later in the film. It’s that attention to detail will make you pay attention to every single scene in the film. In the end, you piece together the details that lead to the ending of the film.

Yet what makes the film is the cast itself. Thanks to Goddard giving each character their time to shine, the entire cast are all spectacular. Chief among them is Jeff Bridges as Father Flynn (Tron!). Bridges is able to take Goddard’s character and add more depth to it with his performance. There are nuances to his performance that’ll make you question whether he’s good or bad. In addition, he makes audiences hate him but also sympathize with him.

Similar to Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson, and Lewis Pullman all bring a ton of emotion and depth to their characters. The only difference is that Bridges’ character has more substance to his character. As for Chris Hemsworth, although his character is easily the worst one, Hemsworth is so incredibly weird and devious as Billy Lee.

Overall, Bad Times at the El Royale is a fun and entertaining film that doesn’t quite have the twists and turns of a mystery thriller. Despite that, El Royale’s cast is what makes this film so damn entertaining. It’s just a shame isn’t a wonderful surprise that Cabin in the Woods was.

Movie Rating: 3.5/5 atoms

Video
Bad Times at the El Royale - Jon Hamm, Jeff Bridges, and Cynthia Erivo

Bad Times at the El Royale hits Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG-AVC with a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. Due to the film’s natural lighting during the daytime scenes, the brightness is quite high. The brightness is so high that it washes out the dark areas. However, during the nighttime scenes (where most of the film takes place) the brightness and black levels balance out. The brightness is vibrant and pops from the screen. This is especially true for the El Royale’s outdoor neon sign. The black levels are also a deep black with a slight loss of shadow detail.

Because of the natural use of lighting in the film, the color saturation is treated in a similar fashion. The colors look natural with the only source of vividness coming from the bright neon lights. The details look incredibly clear due to the use of anamorphic lenses and celluloid film. At the same time, because of the use of film, there’s a slight film grain seen in the video transfer. Overall, this is a great video transfer.

Video Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

Audio
Bad Times at the El Royale - Dakota Johnson

Bad Times at the El Royale hits Blu-ray with a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. The level of immersion in this audio mix is so impressive to listen to. Because of the film’s dynamic camera movement, the audio accurately moves alongside the camera through the soundstage. Not to mention, the atmospherics, music, and rainfall fill up the entire soundstage to add another layer to this impressive mix. Thankfully, the dialogue can be clearly be heard despite the amount of action in the mix. Overall, this a fantastic and immersive audio mix.

Audio Rating: 5/5 atoms

Special Features
Bad Times at the El Royale - Chris Hemsworth
You can find the following special features on the Bad Times at the El Royale Blu-ray:

  • Making Bad Times at the El Royale
  • Gallery
  • Teaser Trailer
  • Theatrical Trailer

Although it’s slightly disappointing to see that the only real special feature with some substance is the “making-of” featurette, the featurette is actually quite a good one. The featurette goes all-in with providing us with a ton of information about the development of the film. One might even consider it an educational featurette because of how much you might learn about El Royale’s intricate filmmaking process. At the same time, you’ll have a larger love and appreciation for the one and only Jeff Bridges. Other than that, there isn’t anything else to see.

Special Features Rating: 3/5 atoms


Overall, Bad Times at the El Royale is an entertaining crime noir thriller that sadly lacks the twists and turns of a traditional noir film. The video and audio are both spectacular. Unfortunately, the special features are a bit lacking. Nevertheless, the making-of featurette is a great in-depth featurette that covers a ton of subjects.

Overall Rating: 4/5 atoms

This Blu-ray was reviewed using a retail/advance copy/unit provided by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1370 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.