Shenyongo’s Movie Review: A Cure for Wellness
While I had earlier said I would do a review of this movie, I had almost hesitated to see the movie due to the negative to mixed reception the movie was getting; the movie currently holds around 40% on Rotten Tomatoes. However after some thought yesterday I decided to just go with my gut feeling and watch the movie. After having seen the movie, I can say that I have no regrets in seeing this at the theater (even though there were only a few other people in the theater room since a Cure for Wellness is bombing…..). While the movie does have its flaws, it also has some strengths that lift it up thanks to Gore Verbinski’s directing. So how does the overall movie stack up?
STORY (little spoilers)
The basic premise of the movie is as follows:
An ambitious young executive is sent to retrieve his company’s CEO from an idyllic but mysterious “wellness center” at a remote location in the Swiss Alps, but soon suspects that the spa’s treatments are not what they seem.
The movie starts off strong as we are introduced to a view of black towering skyscrapers, where we then witness an overworking employee (whom we are given some brief information about such as having family) get a heart attack and die. This employee is immediately replaced by the main character, played by Dane DeHaan, whom is an ambitious young executive that seeks to get to the top, which really does a good job at showing the heartless environment of the corporate environment and plays into some of the ideas the movie is trying to express; in fact what prompts him to try to retrieve the CEO is the board members threatening to pin unsightly business deals made by the company on him. When he arrives at the spa and is forced to stay due to a “broken leg”, he slowly begins to suspect that there might be something sinister going on in the spa, which might have some connection to the experiments of the Baron who lived in the original foundations 200 years ago as well as to a girl who has lived at the spa her whole life.
A common criticism the movie is getting from reviewers is that the story is predictable, poorly structured, and too long. While there are plot details that somewhat make me scratch my head, I honestly felt the story was overall fine. Personally I was fine with the length of the movie (2.5 hour runtime); I never felt the narrative was over staying it’s welcome. The main character, while not instantly the most likable, is understandable and he is a character that is you can root for as he tries to figure WTF is going on at this weird spa and there are moments of sympathy and humanity in him. The mystery, along with its twists and turns, while derivative is well executed, with certain details being foreshadowed throughout the film allowing the twists to have a decent pay off. If anything I would say the flaw of the story is that it juggles too many ideas. Now granted the narrative is a lot more focused than say The Lone Ranger, however on one hand it is exploring the ideas of the dangers of ambition, as well as the use of humans as merely tools (as both the corporations and the main villain are shown doing), and on another hand it is about the villain’s quest to create a “pure human breed” though incest (not making that up….). Nevertheless I can appreciate what the narrative is trying to do.
However, even with a somewhat flawed story, the performances of the actors lift the narrative, as the acting in this movie is damn superb. Dane DeHaan is fantastic as always, with his brilliant performance as the lead that is subtle when it needs to be and emotional when it needs to be. Jason Issacs, as the villain Dr. Heinrich Volmer, pulls of a very subtle yet also menacing performance as the villain.
CINEMATOGRAPHY + VISUALS
The visual representation of this movie is another strong point of this movie. Director Gore Verbinski really does pull off some damn mesmerizing shots, from a specific choice of camera angle, to where what is placed in the view of the camera, the cinematography of this movie not only looks cool but it also creates a eerie atmosphere for the movie that helps lift the narrative up even at its weakest points.
The atmosphere is also aided by a very well-done set design.
The CGI used in the film is decent enough. It is easy to know when something is done in CGI but it doesn’t take you out of the experience of the movie.
The music used in the movie does it’s job at giving the movie it’s eerie atmosphere. Each piece is well-composed and fits their respective scenes. Here is one song from the soundtrack in order to show what I mean.
Personally I think this movie could have been better, but for what it is, it is still good. While the movie does have it’s flaws, I think a Rotten Tomatoes Score of 40% is blowing those flaws out of proportions. While the narrative of the movie isn’t the best, it serves its purpose, the film-making is ambitious, and I am still thinking about the movie and its ideas. I would give this movie a 7/10 and I would recommend watching it at the theater (at night that is).
Unfortunately, it appears that A Cure for Wellness is bombing, having only grossed $ 12 million globally on a $40 million budget (not including marketing costs) globally so far. Those box office numbers likely won’t get much better considering that audiences are going to likely instead watch the newest “ground breaking” horror film from producer Jason Blum GET OUT…….
Note: Feel free to comment on your thoughts on the movie, as well as any constructive criticisms on how I can improve for futures reviews. I will likely be putting up another review pretty soon for another horror movie that I have been wanting to talk about for a while.
Sorry about the riff on Get Out. Turns out I was being paroniod and let my bias from seeing the the trailer get the better of me.
Also sorry for not having put out another review as soon as I soon as I said I would. Was busy with stuff. Will likely try to in a few days, and it will likely be a double review as I have recently saw LOGAN and plan to review that movie as well.
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