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Review: An All-Star Cast Makes “Hotel Artemis” Worth Checking In

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We don’t know too much about the chaotic future of Los Angeles in Hotel Artemis. We know there is a water conglomerate, a city-wide shutdown of water services, and violent riots in the streets. That’s about all Jean Thomas (Jodie Foster) knows and all she wants to know. She resides at the titular hotel on the top floor as the nurse for her secret hospital for criminals. It’s dangerous work and she finds herself overbooked on the night of the city’s most massive riot, where several unsavory people converge for hushed healthcare. It’s a recipe for disaster, but for Nurse Thomas, it’s just another Wednesday.

Sofia Boutella and Charlie Day in HOTEL ARTEMIS.
Photo credit: Matt Kennedy / Distributor: Global Road Entertainment

The rustic hotel becomes a stew of colorfully conspiring characters that will feud and toy with each other, despite the hospital rules of not killing the other patients. Sterling K. Brown plays a robber that needs some help for his brother (Brian Tyree Henry) after a botched robbery. Sofia Boutella plays a femme fatale assassin that always seems to be on the clock in her fancy dress, skilled with using coffee cups as deadly weapons. Charlie Day is a rich snob that can’t wait to get out of the city and look on the lowlifes rather than receiving the same bedside manner. And even more guests will show up including a cop (Jenny Slate), a ruthless mob boss (Jeff Goldblum), and the boss’ eager-to-kill son (Zachary Quinto). If it weren’t for the muscle-bound assistance of Everest (Dave Bautista), the Artemis wouldn’t last long with its failing power, rickety elevators, and blood-stained sheets.

Thomas is overworked and crippled with guilt and anxiety, but brushes off those questioning her with her standard response: “Busy night at the Artemis.” That’s an understatement. There is so much going on in this ensemble-filled enclosure that the various arcs wobble and topple all over each other. The trailers made the plot seem so simple with Sterling accidentally stealing a pen that contains million-dollar diamonds, belonging to Goldblum’s character that is quite strict with his punishments for pilfering. And yet that’s not the reason Goldblum stops by, as he has need of medical services and becomes intertwined in the many messy affairs. Some of the characters have contracts to kill from within the hotel, some have guilt they’re trying to get over, and some have past relationships that rekindle. The film can’t seem to settle on a central story with the same indecisiveness of the allegiances of the occupying scum.

Sterling K. Brown in HOTEL ARTEMIS.
Photo credit: Matt Kennedy / Distributor: Global Road Entertainment

There’s an all-star cast on parade for this fast and frenetic futuristic crime tale, and they become the glowing center of this decadent ride. Jodie Foster is adorable as the slick-talking nurse. She has enough experience with lawbreakers to not only enforce her domain but do so with a knowing smirk and biting commentary. In any other film, she’d be present for a few minutes before stepping aside for lukewarm heroes, but Foster is a full-timer here, hobbling between rooms in her comfy nurse outfit and continuously checking her tablet to keep tabs on patients. Brown makes for a charming robber with his straight talk and ease of swagger. Bautista is as likable as always even when he’s not showcasing his tattooed muscles. Armed with a slick and to-the-point script, all of the actors have a genuine nature to them, even for the understated performances of Jenny Slate and Jeff Goldblum.

Hotel Artemis has a bafflingly crowded assembly with too many plot irons are in the fire, an unfilled relationship between the remaining players, and an ending that I suspect may have been retooled with reshoots. But it’s firmly glued with a stellar cast in top form, dashes of dazzling sci-fi tech (including a brilliantly brutal misuse of a 3D printer), and an intoxicating atmosphere amplified by golden synth from Cliff Martinez. All of this makes the film an exhilarating original film that you certainly don’t see every Wednesday.


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“Ralph” Reigns Again on Slow Box Office Weekend

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We’re currently in the eye of the fall movie storm. All is fairly quiet this weekend. The only new release was that of a small horror film, The Possession of Hannah Grace. So small, in fact, that it only came in at #7 for the weekend with a gross of $6.5 million. As such, few films moved very far from their spots. Last weekend’s winner, the animated adventure Ralph Breaks The Internet, was once again on top, even though it wasn’t a very strong second weekend of $25 million, a 54% drop. Still, the film has made $119 million so far and is well on its way to covering its $175 million budget.

Surprisingly jumping up a spot is Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, the latest animated film Illumination Studios based on the classic Christmas book. The film jumped up from #3 to #2, making $17 million with the domestic gross now up to $203 million. Creed II, the sequel to the Rocky spinoff, took a step down for its second weekend, grossing $16 million with a domestic total of $81 million. It’s no surprise that the biggest drop of the weekend was Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the sequel to the Harry Potter spinoff. Due to low critic ratings and poor fan reactions, the film tumbled 61% with its domestic gross sitting at $134 million.

Ivo Nandi stars as Moscow Referee and Florian Munteanu as Viktor Drago in CREED II,
a Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures film.
Credit: Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures / Warner Bros. Pictures
© 2018 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

View the full top 10 box office winner for the weekend below.

Ralph Breaks The Internet ($25,756,000)
Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch ($17,730,000)
Creed II ($16,832,863)
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald ($11,200,000)
Bohemian Rhapsody ($8,100,000)
Instant Family ($7,150,000)
The Possession of Hannah Grace ($6,500,000)
Robin Hood ($4,700,000)
Widows ($4,400,000)
Green Book ($3,900,000)

Next weekend is so sparse with new content that the biggest release is going to be an anniversary screening of Schindler’s List, hitting 1,000 screens. It’s a good time to take in some smaller releases as Mary Queen of Scots, Ben is Back, and Vox Lux will be having limited releases. So it’s safe to expect a repeat of this weekend’s trends in the box office.


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“Ralph” Breaks The Box Office, “Creed” Close Behind

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Thanksgiving week is a time for family and there were plenty out to the theater last week for an animated family picture. Ralph Breaks The Internet, the Disney-animated sequel to 2012’s video game adventure comedy Wreck-It Ralph, came in at #1 for the weekend with $55 million and $84 million since its debut on Wednesday. This puts it above the Disney studio’s previous Thanksgiving hit Moana, which had a 5-day total of $82 million.

Not too far behind is Creed II, the sequel to the Rocky spin-off starring Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone. The boxing sequel took in $35 million for the weekend and $55 million since Wednesday. This is a stronger opening than the first film which came in at $29 million for the weekend.

And it was slim leftovers for the two other debuts. Robin Hood, the latest action remake of the classic tale, came in at #7 with only $9 million for the weekend, $14 million since Wednesday. Green Book, a drama about a black singer in the racist south of America, came in at #9 for its expanded week to make $5 million for the weekend and $7 million for its domestic total.

The Crimes of Grindelwald is not fairing to well for its second weekend. The Harry Potter spin-off has dropped to #4 with a domestic weekend gross of $30 million, a 52% drop. The film still hasn’t cleared its $200 million budget with a domestic gross of $117 million and it looks like it may never cross that mark as we head into December with more genre titles. Beating it out for #3 is Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, the theatrically animated adaptation by Illumination, that is proving to have great legs coming into the holiday season. Worth noting at #10 is A Star Is Born, its domestic total now having crossed $191 million to make it one of the most profitable films of the year.

View the full top 10 box office results for the weekend below:

Ralph Breaks The Internet ($55,672,000)
Creed II ($35,293,000)
Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch ($30,210,000)
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald ($29,650,000)
Bohemian Rhapsody ($13,855,000)
Instant Family ($12,500,000)
Robin Hood ($9,125,000)
Widows ($7,955,000)
Green Book ($5,443,000)
A Star is Born ($3,005,000)

Next weekend is, well, it’s pretty dead. So dead that a ghost movie is occupying the rather blank spot. Possession of Hannah Grace, a modest horror production, will be arriving in under 2,000 theaters. So it’s fair to say you can expect Ralph to breakthrough for another weekend of success.


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“Creed II” Gets Raw and Rickety with Rocky-isms

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Creed II, despite showing no shortage of boxing enthusiasm, falls prey to all the predictable theatrics and pitfalls of a sports sequel. It takes the character of Adonis Creed and prepares him to weather familiar territory in the Rocky franchise, pumping him up for the long haul of taking on new challenges. It’s very much a “more” sequel; more intensity in the fights, more drama stirred up outside the ring, and more theatrical music to turn the one-on-one boxing matches into towering and thunderous battles of gods. And while Creed certainly still has some of that charm in its eyes and adrenaline in its veins, there’s an unfortunate feeling one can’t shake that there’s not a lot of new tricks for this spin-off franchise.

Michael B. Jordan still has the right stuff as Adonis Creed. He’s a fierce competitor when he slips on the gloves and a fearful mess when it comes to taking the next step in his relationship with his best girl Bianca (Tessa Thompson). His mentor Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) is still in his corner to coach his many matches but there’s one fight he won’t be there for. Remember Ivan Drago from Rocky IV? He’s back, reprised by Dolph Lundgren, and has a new young Russian contender, his son Viktor (Florian Munteanu), ready to defeat Rocky’s boxing apprentice. You may recall that Drago was the one who killed Creed’s father, Apollo. Time for a revenge fight!

Michael B. Jordan stars as Adonis Creed and Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa in
CREED II, a Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures film.
Credit: Barry Wetcher / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures / Warner Bros. Pictures
© 2018 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

The story makes its intentions clear from the first scene where Creed repeats the inspiring mantra of only fighting for himself and proving nothing to nobody else. Indeed, Jordan remains the centerpiece so prominently he pushes aside all other characters and arcs. Consider how Ivan has a lot riding on this fight, not only to seek revenge but also to gain the favor of his country and his ex-wife, who apparently left him for being a loser. It sounds a little too cartoonish of a villain plot and the film almost out of mercy never draws too much attention to this plight. Also absent from the second half is Buddy Marcelle (Russell Hornsby), another villain trying to push the boxing narrative of Creed vs. Drago and keep that match on the schedule. There’s a lingering theme amid these characters about when the fight isn’t worth it, yet all that questioning evaporates when the film quickly settles into being the guaranteed crowd pleaser of Adonis winning the fight.

Purely on the aspect of boxing, the film is neat to watch. It plays up the theatrics of the matches with an epic score and gets up close and personal with the punches. You feel every blow as the soundtrack boasts the brutal slugs to the face and ribs, almost as loud and grand as the epic music trying to drive the excitement up further. And while it is thrilling to get engaged in the main events of the picture, there’s that lesser drama that hinders a bigger film. Consider how Drago’s son seems defeated before the final blow is struck, more emotionally than physically. The triumphant punch across the face with a rousing reprisal of that old Rocky theme is all but assured at that point.

Florian Munteanu stars as Viktor Drago and Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Creed in CREED II,
a Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures film.
Credit: Barry Wetcher / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures / Warner Bros. Pictures
© 2018 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

Where the film kept winning me back wasn’t so much in the fights but in the quieter drama. There’s an ease to scenes where Rocky and Creed are merely talking about family and what’s most important in life. The two of them ooze with warmth where I found myself particularly charmed at a simple departure of Creed asking if Rocky is good and he gives a relaxed assurance before strolling off to let Adonis purpose to Bianca. And while the scenes between Jordan and Thompson are rather sweet, there’s no stopping the power of Phylicia Rashad as Creed’s mother, dominating scenes where she playfully asks about kids and powerfully puts the boy in his place when it comes to choosing his battles.

While I enjoyed Creed II and have no doubt that it’ll inspire cheers in the theater, I couldn’t help but notice all the tired tropes being unearthed, properly dusted off as they may be. There’s a training montage, a fall from grace, and plenty of televised boxing decadence. The first Creed film was exciting and inspiring because it felt new and refreshing. Creed II, however, gets too comfortable with that old Rocky formula, where the film becomes more centered on the match than the character. We certainly get a rousing fight but little more than that as Creed II comes up abundant on muscle and lower on the relatable human aspects. Here’s hoping Creed III won’t feature him fighting Mr. T’s protege.


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