‘Escape Room: Tournament of Champions’
Out of the sequels Sony has come out with this year, you couldn’t get me to have any interest in Escape Room: Tournament of Champions since the original from 2019 wasn’t very good. Maybe it wasn’t as terrible as most movies that open in January, and it was considered a hit at the box office. But all it was is a tamed version of Saw with a dumb cliffhanger ending to sequel bait us, so here we care.
After surviving their escape room experience, Zoey (Taylor Russell) and Ben (Logan Miller) plan to expose the Minos Corporation based on their headquarters in New York City. But, unfortunately, what should’ve been easy for them turns out to be a new series of deadly escape rooms along with four other people who’ve also won their respective games alive.
Those who actually liked the original are more than likely to be the only ones who’ll care about watching this sequel. Just from watching the trailer, I already knew how everything will play out in what’s essentially a more deadly tale of The Hunger Games now. Though it doesn’t do much to give this needed to exist. You probably won’t find yourself bored since it’s a pretty short runtime. Even when it doesn’t pull much entertainment as before, these strangers conveniently ended up together in the same subway to begin a new game. They have been in this situation before where they’re smart enough to work with each other and solve these puzzles without losing with each room. Does it leave tension-filled moments? I didn’t think so.
Seeing Taylor Russell and Logan Miller back again is certainly a welcome return since they still do a reasonably good job with how their characters present themselves with PTSD with their phobias and their horrific experience from before. Because of that, Zoey and Ben are the only two I cared for the entire time. The others in this tournament are pointless to watch for when they have this feeling they could bite the dust at any time. As much as Holland Roden, Indaya Moore, and Thomas Concquerel tried here, their performances aren’t much to get out of, and it doesn’t help when one of them makes the dumbest decisions.
With the new escape rooms themselves, they were hit-or-miss like last time. Sometimes it works with their designs, while it doesn’t take long to realize it would be impossible to make it through them because how they designed are too much and almost impossible. However, there’s a connecting mystery behind each of them. You don’t have fun with these traps when it comes to being a little predictable or how they can figure these rooms out. Now I watched the extended version where there’s an alternative opening and ending from what I read. Reading what the original third act was, I can understand how it doesn’t make sense. The one I got came as a surprise, yet it set itself up for a third movie that shouldn’t be forced.
I was not expecting a fantastic sequel or anything, but director Adam Robitel and his team of writers couldn’t improve to make this even a watchable psychological thriller m. If you missed the first l, there’s literally a “previously on” at the very beginning, which is enough to say don’t waste your time on either. There just needs to be more creativity in these to make these movies work.
Final Thoughts: Escape Room: Tournament of Champions is more of the same as its predecessor, which I also didn’t like. Some inventive traps here and there, but it’s too predictable to find it fun, making this thriller sequel less than interesting.
The last movie to talk about is another recent one, which happens to be Cinderella, writer-director Kay Cannon’s modern take of the classic princess story that made its way on Amazon Prime Video. It stars artist Camila Cabello as Cinderella, who lives with her stepmother Vivian (Idina Menzel) and her two daughters. She has dreams of becoming a dressmaker and not just cleaning up after her family. But, once it is announced Prince Robert (Nicholas Galitzine) is hosting a ball for the entire kingdom, Cinderella has help from her Fab Godmother (Billy Porter) to make her dreams come true.
You can say my anticipation before watching Cinderella was low, and that was before that video of the cast in LA traffic hit the Internet. Just the thought of having another movie centered around the fairytale princess didn’t carry attention, mainly when I just reviewed the Disney remake a few months ago. Cannon’s involvement was positive since this is her second feature following Blockers, which I find an underrated comedy in the past three years. A movie meant for young girls, I thought it would put me in an awful mood while watching, and it wasn’t terrible. Though I can’t find people feeling this new version of Cinderella will be anyone’s favorite. How surprising?
To be fair, there were some changes to the typical story that probably hasn’t been explored yet to where jr gives us a protagonist wanting to be independent for herself to make it feel modern enough. But does it come together nicely? I didn’t think so when I had a hard time figuring out why I couldn’t have fun. Cannon tries her hardest here, but she couldn’t find a spark to make it more lively. From the look at the trailer alone, it’s more like a Disney Channel original with a bigger budget, and it still fails to make a connection.
So many actresses have played Cinderella that every person has their favorite. Finally, Camila Cabello made her acting debut, and I was willing to give her a chance despite never caring too much for her music. Verdict: She’s not as bad as others that have made their way to film, but it’s an underwhelming performance from her. She tries her best, but it’s what to expect with those ambitions the character gives off. And if you want to fall for the chemistry with her and Galitzine, it’s about so-so when they came across as underdeveloped, not feeling anything romantic between them.
Everybody else is kind of wasted here in the supporting cast. Billy Porter’s brief appearance as the new twist on the Fairy Godmother was the energy needed, and I did want more from him since he serves as the narrator and when Cinderella needs to look her best for the ball. Pierce Brosnan and Minnie Driver and the King and Queen could’ve given more to do. But Broadway legend Idina Menzel does a better job here since I wasn’t expecting a backstory from her stepmother character where she doesn’t appear as evil as one would think.
Adding the element of a jukebox musical in the mix, a blend of popular pop and contemporary songs for the characters to sing wasn’t working for me. I like musicals, but those with non-original pieces usually can’t please me, and I’m someone who doesn’t love Moulin Rogue!. It has songs I love, from Queen’s “Somebody to Love” to Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” that doesn’t feel special when even the singing was the best. I never thought a mash-up of “Whatta Man” and “Seven Nation Army” would happen during a dance at the ball, but here we are. And since Cannon’s responsible for writing the Pitch Perfect trilogy, that helps explains it. The problem is it doesn’t make you want to dance and sing since the musical numbers don’t boast enough engagement. Probably the one song that got a second listen from me was called “Dream Girl,” sung by Menzel. But when Camello first sang “Million to One,” the most boring musical number of them all, was this the first time I’ve noticed she’s not a good singer? That would explain why I laughed when she sang to herself, and the harmonizing was awful.
Cannon’s script really doesn’t work in its terrible dialogue and constant need to be funny when it wasn’t. It’s not a Cinderella story that needed this type of modern touch where I would’ve liked to have a vibe similar to the series Dickinson, but it didn’t do there to reach that goal. And it’s not funny, especially when James Corden shows up. No joke, I yelled “shut up” at my computer screen when he was singing; that shows my hatred for him when he’s in a musical. If the classic troupes we usually know by now where the clock strikes at midnight, the beautiful dress, and the girl with the kind heart. The results came back as flat. Like many, I didn’t get much out of Cinderella, and as someone who loves Blockers, Cannon’s sophomore effort didn’t work besides being rather mediocre.
Final Thoughts: Cinderella wasn’t the complete trainwreck I feared it would be. However, it’s still a modern re-telling that comes across as mediocre that is honestly missing something creative to make this come alive. It doesn’t work as an amusing jukebox musical either.