Movie doesn’t live up to the hype

By Andrew McManus - Movie Review



It seems we get sequels or prequels EVERY week. This week is no different. Escape Room: Tournament of Champions is a direct sequel to Escape Room (2019.) The premise is simple. Have you seen escape rooms you can go to with friends or on a date night? You are “trapped” in a room and have to solve puzzles to escape! However, in these films the peril is real.

The rooms are actually locked and if you don’t leave you don’t survive. Que the dramatic music!!!! Onto something much more important! I said we met Megan last week from Portsmouth Cinema…..I was wrong. We met MORGAN! I am SO SORRY! So a direct quote from Morgan this week, “I’m not Megan.” She was great as always! As we saw last we had another local writer (Kasie McCreary) swing by to offer a blurb on her take on this film. I told her going in, I didn’t expect this to be good. Was I wrong with a name and at least right on this?

Onto the film.

We open with a nice recap of the previous film. I usually appreciate when a movie does this as it adds to the appeal for viewers if they’ve not seen the previous entry. I didn’t realize that this was just a small taste of how the ENTIRE MOVIE we are told exactly what is going on. Step by Step. Ben (Miller) opens that door. “Hey everyone, I just opened this door.” Congratulations Ben. We see the survivors of the first film seeing therapists and dealing with trauma from the ones lost in the last “games.”

We see our two leads Ben (Miller) and Taylor (Davis) end up at a warehouse. The SFX is immediately immersive. Is this real? Is this a dream sequence? It is the latter. Maybe the

characters won’t have to escape anything this time around besides the bad memories…..WRONG.

They end up on a subway and I knew then the games were about to begin. From there we see set pieces ranging from said subway to a lighthouse/beach, an alleyway, etc etc. I will give this film credit, each “room” is intricate and nice to look at. I feel the SFX was better overall in this film than Black Widow. How is that possible? I would like to mention that Kacie at this point said she would panic…just for the record. As chaotic as the surroundings were it was a little boring in places. We saw characters and they blatantly told their backstory.

Again going with making sure the audience knows EXACTLY what is happening. The evil organization “Minos” seems just a “big bad” with a silly name. However the cast is B+ they do make you feel some interest in their survival. At least for me anyway. Let’s see a tidbit of what Kasie thought.

“I didn’t catch the first installment of this franchise in theaters, and it turns out that while that won’t necessarily ruin a viewing of the sequel on its own, it definitely does not enhance the experience. However, those who enjoyed the first film will likely delight in the twists, references, and callbacks present in this second installment.

Despite a clearly talented cast of young actors (Indya Moore’s filmography and TV work alone warrant a deeper dive into the actor’s upcoming and ongoing projects, and I’m sure the same is true for their Escape Room costars), their talents can only carry this film so far. The dialogue plods like a pair of steel-toed boots and was written as if for the blindfolded, each actor announcing out loud exactly what is happening onscreen and removing all burden of analysis from the viewer (“oh no, that door is opening! Look at the [redacted to avoid spoilers] behind it! This must mean that [major plot point explained in one sentence, then never mentioned again]!”).

We both seem to agree with the actors announcing EVERYTHING they are doing!

“I’d advise anyone ready to see this film to appreciate it for precisely what it is: a fun, stylized, gory romp with a borderline nonsensical plot, and all handed to its audience with much of the guesswork removed. While it will not be on any Academy Awards shortlists next year, it will indeed provide fans of the franchise with exactly what is advertised: an escape. And during an immensely stressful global event such as this pandemic, many folks returning to the cinema are in need of just that.

That said, if you aren’t necessarily a fan already of the Escape Room franchise, I’ll give you the same advice I gave to my youngest daughter at the park this weekend when she’d asked to ride a very rickety-looking swing set: Seesaw [see ‘Saw’] instead. 2/5 stars.”

Kasie’s analysis is pretty spot on. It is a fun, stylized, gory romp with a nonsensical plot. I will say as someone who has seen the first film. The first film is better. Although, if you have watched the previous entry you need to see this one. It feels literally like chapter 2. However, overall the movie is mediocre at best. Even with the attempt to twist and turn you into confusion. I think we both left feeling let-down. I concur with 2 stars out of 5. That is also being very generous.


By Andrew McManus

Movie Review