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SONY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Adam Robitel
Cast:
Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, James Frain
Writing Credits:
Will Honley, Maria Melnik, Daniel Tuch, Oren Uziel

Synopsis:
Six people unwillingly find themselves locked in another series of escape rooms, slowly uncovering what they have in common to survive. Joining forces with two of the original survivors, they soon discover they've all played the game before.

Box Office:
Budget
$15 million.
Opening Weekend
$8,801,391 on 2815 Screens.
Domestic Gross
$25,188,958.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13/NR.

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Audio Descriptive Service
Hungarian Dolby 5.1
Polish Dolby 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Hebrew
Hungarian
Icelandic
Polish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime:
88 min. (Theatrical)
96 min. (Extended)
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 10/5/2021

Bonus:
• Both Theatrical & Extended Versions
• “Dazzling But Deadly” Featurette
• “Game of Champions” Featurette
• “Upping the Ante” Featurette


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RELATED REVIEWS


Escape Room: Tournament of Champions [Blu-Ray] (2021)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 11, 2021)

2019’s Escape Room didn’t break box office records with its $154 million worldwide gross. However, with a mere $9 million budget, it turned a huge profit, and that leads us to 2021’s sequel, Escape Room: Tournament of Champions,

Zoey Davis (Taylor Russell) and Ben Miller (Logan Miller) managed to become the sole survivors of a deadly “escape room” contest. After their ordeal, they attempt to confront the leaders of the company that put them in such perilous conditions.

Unfortunately, these endeavors lead toward nothing but frustration – and eventually back to another series of “escape rooms”. There they find themselves stuck along with other “winners” of similar competitions and once again need to fend off crazed threats to survive.

When I went into the first Room two years ago, I did so with low expectations. Granted, I enter almost all modern-day horror flicks without high hopes, but the combination of gimmicky premise and “PG-13” rating left me less than enthused.

While I won’t call it a classic, the 2019 film at least offered a fairly entertaining tale. It managed to use its premise in a creative manner to become a tense, involving adventure.

Given that Tournament appears to offer virtually the same plot, the filmmakers need to find some kind of twist to keep the audience interested. The basic plot worked fine for one movie, but without something new involved, the sequel could come across as little more than the same old same old.

That said, the premise offers some promise. Since the story includes only players who won prior escape rooms, in theory these participants should put up more of a fight than the folks who lost in the first film.

However, that remains an intriguing notion only in theory. In reality, the presence of the “champions” doesn’t play a substantial role, as none of these winners feels all that smart or insightful.

Of course, it becomes a necessity that characters in a thriller/horror tale like this need to mix brains and idiocy. Approximately 99 percent of all genre flicks fall apart if the participants don’t make a mix of stupid choices, so the people of Tournament can’t come across as too sharp.

And they don’t. Sometimes they seem like mini-Hawkings, and other times they feel more like Forrest Gumps.

I can swallow that aspect of Tournament and would accept it more readily if the film brought us much real entertainment. Unfortunately, the story follows a fairly predictable course that never delivers much real drama or excitement.

Much of the problem stems from the plot itself, which seems wafer thin. Some of this comes from the nature of the sequel, as it wouldn’t make sense for it to offer the same kind of exposition found in the first film.

This means Tournament essentially launches into the action without much preamble. Because it focuses on two characters we already know, it digs into the “games” without a lot beyond the thrills.

Again, I get the rationale for this, but it harms the film in terms of its ability to tell an actual story. The subplot about Zoey’s desire to expose those behind the escape rooms acts as a through-line, but it seems fairly meaningless in the long haul.

Instead, Tournament just wants to throw more deadly puzzles at us. Unfortunately, because the movie skimps on character and narrative development, they lose punch, as we simply don’t invest in the participants enough to really care what happens.

Also, Tournament starts at “11” in terms of the escape rooms it delivers. Because these scenarios start out with such overheated mania, we get little room to grow, so the terror becomes fairly tedious after a while.

Tournament doesn’t become a total dud, as some of the challenges do offer clever thrills. Still, too much of the film feels like an uninspired rehash of its predecessor, so it fails to become especially interesting in its own right.


The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus C

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie boasted a pleasing image – one similar enough to the first film’s that I cut and pasted those comments. I’m lazy!

Overall sharpness worked well. Some wider shots veered a smidgen toward the soft side, but they remained in the minority during this largely accurate presentation.

I saw no shimmering or jaggies, and edge haloes remained absent. Print flaws also failed to become an issue.

Like most modern movies, Tournament went a lot of orange and teal, as those tones dominated the presentation. A few reds popped up as well. Predictable as the colors tended to be, the Blu-ray rendered them in an appropriate manner.

Blacks looked dark and deep, while shadows seemed smooth and concise. I felt happy with this high-quality presentation.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it added involvement to the proceedings. The five channels used music in an involving manner, and various effects also broadened the soundscape in a winning way.

While not a film packed with action, Tournament came to life enough to work the speakers well. Various horror elements related to the thrills moved around the room in a convincing pattern to contribute life to the tale.

Audio quality worked well. Speech seemed concise and distinctive, while effects appeared accurate and natural. Louder moments boasted fine punch.

Music was warm and full, with a good level of punch from percussive elements. All of this left us with a satisfactory “B+” soundtrack.

The disc presents both the film’s theatrical (1:28:03) and extended (1:35:45) cuts. According to the Blu-ray’s cover, the latter offers “over 25 minutes of all-new footage including alternate beginning and alternate ending”.

Because the Blu-ray represented my initial screening of Champions, I opted for the extended cut, and that left me unable to discern all the changes between the two. However, a look at the alternate beginning/ending revealed what I suspect becomes the major difference: the reveal of the people behind the games.

To avoid spoilers, I won’t say too much, but the extended edition comes with a prologue that gives backstory for these folks. The alternate ending offers more with them, whereas these characters play zero role in the theatrical version’s finale.

Does one work better than the other? Not really, though I’d probably opt for the theatrical cut because I’m not sure the “gamemaster” stuff truly works.

This material kind of comes out of nowhere and doesn’t mesh especially well with the rest of the tale. It can feel gratuitous and like little more than the sequel bait that it becomes by the ending.

Don’t take that as an indication that the theatrical cut doesn’t open itself up to a conclusion that also pushes toward Escape Room 3, however. Both come with endings that lurch toward another chapter, but because it concentrates on our main characters, the theatrical finale feels more organic.

At least this extended cut offers major changes from the theatrical edition. Many elongated versions make only minor changes, but we get substantial additions for the longer presentation, and that means it becomes worth a look.

Three featurettes appear, and Dazzling But Deadly runs five minutes, 50 seconds. It brings comments from director Adam Robitel, executive producer Philip Waley, production designer Edward Thomas, executive producer Karina Rahardja, special effects supervisor Brandon van der Merwe, stunt coordinator Anneli Muller, and actors Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Carlito Olivero, Indya Moore, Holland Roden and Thomas Cocquerel.

“Deadly” examines sets and escape room designs as well as stunts. We get some decent details, though much of the material just tells us how amazing the work is.

Game of Champions goes for five minutes, 10 seconds and features Robitel, Miller, Russell, Rahardja, Olivero, Roden, and Moore. “Game” discusses cast, characters and performances. It becomes fluffy and superficial.

Finally, Upping the Ante lasts three minutes, 55 seconds and delivers notes from Miller, Thomas, Russell, Robitel, Roden, van der Merwe, Rahardja, Cocquerel and Waley. “Ante” views the escape room challenges as well as Robitel’s impact on the shoot. It offers another praise-packed piece.

Though 2019’s Escape Room turned into a pretty engaging thrill ride, 2021’s sequel feels much less engaging. Escape Room: Tournament of Champions lacks real drama or development, so it becomes semi-monotonous. The Blu-ray boasts very good picture and audio along with minor bonus materials and two versions of the film. This never turns into a bad movie, but it definitely represents a step down from its predecessor.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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