REview: Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (2021) | Sequels Are Hard

If you’ve ever wanted to see movies like Saw (2004) – or it’s numerous spin-offs – or Hostel (2005), but were turned off by the violence, then maybe the Escape Room movies are for you.

They take the puzzle solving of the former movies, the sense of conspiracy from the latter but with only implied violence.

The first movie, released in 2019, was a massive success, costing ‘only’ $9 million to produce, and earning just over $155 million worldwide.

So it goes without saying that there was going to be a sequel. Though sequels are hard in the sense that you want to make them similar enough to the original that you get as much of that audience back as possible, and new viewers; which by definition means it’s not going to be so different that you’re alienating them.

Which brings another problem: If the sequel is that similar to the original, then why would anyone watch it when they could just rewatch the first one?

And Escape Room (2019) was fascinating because of the elaborateness of its traps, which are lovingly – and for the most part practically – created. And sure, there were people in the movie, but the real stars were the traps themselves.

The sequel, Escape Room: Tournament of Champions learned that lesson well, so the traps are upgraded in terms of their elaborateness, though they’re oftentimes so elaborate that it’s hard to justify them (the first movie said that all the contestants were survivors of near-death experiences, which doesn’t at all clarify why things are unfolding).

We’re given more information in the sequel about why things are happening, but as far as explanations goes. it’s also pretty weak because the elaborateness of these traps implies they cost millions to create, and while billionaires have been proven to be chimerical in terms of what they choose to spend their money on, I’m not sure they’d be too interested in paying to build traps they could get for free watching Survivor (or numerous other shows, minus the deaths).

And speaking of which, the movie reminded me of nothing else than Arcade, the villain from Marvel Comics who ran Murderworld.

Unfortunately, the elaborateness of the traps, the expense and effort that likely went into them undermines the movie pretty quickly though combined with a particularly weak explanation as to why things were happening, it just gets really irritating.

Escape Room: Tournaments of Champions isn’t a great movie and is way too similar to the original for it to particularly matter – which is reflected in it’s box office, which earned $55 million worldwide, a huge decline from the first movie – though if all that matters to you are elaborate traps, then give it a watch.

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