Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Escape Room 2: Tournament of Champions (2021)

Summary: 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.

So what’s weird with this movie is that there’s a “theatrical” release (TR) and an “extended” version (EV) and I absolutely watched both of them. They’re almost two completely different films. This review will be of the “theatrical” version as this is the one I would have seen in theaters anyway… but I will mention the extended version at the end.

Mild Spoilers… I will warn you.

Pros:

Zoey & Ben’s Friendship. Honestly, a welcomed surprise is how much I liked Ben. I don’t remember if I liked him all that much in the first movie, or at least he grew on me. But I do attribute a lot of this to Logan Miller, who is freaking likable. But he and Taylor Russell have great chemistry and I truly believe that they care about each other, even if a lot of their connection might be trauma bonding and maybe he should realize she’s gonna get him into further trouble lol. But I liked that they worked together, that they never had a moment where they argued for the sake of the plot or argued that caused them to be mad at each other for a period of time. We didn’t have time for all that. They trusted each other and they felt each other was the other’s responsibility in the game. I can see why people might see their relationship as being romantic as well, I did get the sense that Ben might like Zoey, but she’s so narrow minded on taking down Minos, that she’s not even thinking about it. If it happens, I wouldn’t be mad but it’s also okay if it doesn’t. They have good chemistry regardless.

The Acting and characters…sometimes. I’ll talk about this in the cons too, but I think overall, the acting was good. Taylor Russell was a lot better in this than she was in the first one. I really didn’t like her in that. Logan Miller is great, he’s so likable and I really cared about Ben. Holland Roden as Rachel is great, and her character had a lot of potential and we probably got to see a lot of her personality most of the new characters. She was hardened, strong and on her toes a lot of the time. We don’t know what her job was in society to help her be like that, but I’d think she was in some sort of medical/counseling type of field. Thomas Cocquerel as Nate also had a lot of potential as well, he’s a Priest who after the games was dealing with trauma, understandably, but he still hung on to his faith almost to a fault in some instances. Interesting. Indya Moore as Briana was interesting, she’s gorgeous and we learn that she’s an influencer, but we don’t learn a lot about her personality outside of her caring about animals. Carlito Olivero as Theo, we learn a bit about his life outside of the games and maybe see that he’s quick on his feet and willing to put himself in danger to try something… so we have some nice skeletons of characters. We just needed some flesh! But this movie wasn’t about that I guess lol.

The Escape Rooms. Just like in the first one, the escape rooms are really the highlights of the film. It’s really about the creativity with these rooms. I think overall, the first one had better rooms as they had reasons behind them and they were cool, but this movie does make them larger and harder to solve. Honestly, if you’re trying to figure it out along with the characters, you’re not going to be able to, at least not until a character does something to tip you off.

  1. Train, I liked the train room the most because it was the puzzle that wasn’t the most ridiculous and could be solved lol. The added stress of being electrocuted of course is hanging over your head, but I think this puzzle was the most plausible. Plus, it looks really cool lol.
  2. The Bank, this one I normally see at the top of everyone’s list as the best one, and I do think it’s overall the best room but it’s so stressful. There are a lot of moving parts and you need many people to complete this room. Between the lasers being activated by missteps, the riddles, and the countdown, it’s super stressful.
  3. NY Street, I like this one a lot because I feel like you can solve this one, minus the killer threat that’s looming (I won’t spoil that for you lol). One person could potentially solve this one, but they’d have to really be on their toes lol. The overall design was great.
  4. Beach, this one had a lot going on. It’s also the first time in the film where another escape route is presented giving certain illusions and I liked that. The threat is very interesting, and I still want to know how someone would exactly die… do they just drown in the sand? I need to know lol.
  5. Bedroom, this is the very last room and it’s whatever. There’s more than just an escape going on here, so I wanted to include it but it’s not like the others.

Suspenseful/Good Time. Even if this film is classified as “horror”, it’s not scary but it’s thrilling and suspenseful. I had a good time watching and I was on the edge of my seat, figuratively of course, as I was sitting on my bed lol. It was stressful watching them stress out because time is running out and the time’s up ends with death or extreme pain and while I didn’t quite care that much about everyone, I cared enough that I wanted them to live lol. Each room raised the stakes of their survival and I found myself wanting to help them solve the puzzles, even though you can’t quite do that lol.

Plot Twist. I was genuinely shocked by the twist. I did not see it coming even though everything else was pretty obvious, this wasn’t. Remember, this is the theatrical release, so this ending won’t be the same as the extended ending, but I didn’t like the twist even though I was shocked lol. But it’s a good twist for shock value.

Cons:

Opening Recap. We did not need this. At all.

Inconsistent Acting. I think this is mostly from Indya Moore and Carlito Olivero. I just think that in the train scene, which is where we first meet Theo (Carlito), he felt a bit too “overacting” to me. He was very inconsistent with feeling like a real person and then feeling like an actor still trying to understand their character. As for Indya Moore, it’s the overacting as well, there’s a line where she says “You’re gonna get us killed!” and I kind of laughed, the delivery wasn’t the best. The beach scene, particularly in the little shack towards the end of the level, it’s the same issue with her.

Weak Characters. So, besides Zoey and Ben, we meet new characters in this one. All the characters are previous escape room game winners and it’s kind of exciting to see that there are people who also won their games (we find out about that later) and I was interested in seeing what these people were like. Even if the first movie wasn’t great, we did get a sense of those characters mostly… we don’t get that here. It’s unfortunate because the little pieces of them that we did learn was interesting. For example, we learn the least about Theo (Olivero), they didn’t even learn his name even though he did say to himself “get it together Theo!” Brianna (Moore) was an influencer, but she travels to various animal habitats and is a travel blogger… but we know nothing else about her and honestly there’s nothing in her personality that indicates who she is either. Rachel and Nate probably had the makings of being interesting characters as we do get to see a bit more of their personalities, but the movie doesn’t really care that much about those characters, so outside of just being a human being who cares about other human beings… you don’t care about these people. Honestly, besides Zoey, the only character I truly cared about was Ben.

Weak Story/Predictable. Honestly, I figured this movie out quickly. If you saw the trailer, I think it’s quite easy to deduce what’s going to happen. SPOILERS. For example, as soon as we meet Zoey’s therapist, I knew she was going to try to manipulate Zoey into something by the end of the film. I knew the plane was a trap no matter when they got on it. I knew that them, “beating” the game at the end, was not real. I knew Ben wasn’t dead when he fell in the sand. I knew them chasing that dude at the beginning was just going to lead them into the game. It’s really not hard to just put pieces together. SPOILERS END.

Dubbing Issues. I’ve been noticing sound issues a lot with films lately. I don’t know if the panorama has really got these sound mixing people out here struggling, but it’s a struggle. There are a lot of times where the words being said are not what the actor’s mouth is saying. I noticed this particularly in the end, with Ben in the water tank, he is shouting things to Zoey but none of what he’s saying, the actor is saying. Either his mouth isn’t moving at all or it’s saying something completely different. It’s super noticeable.

The Ending. It was hard to figure out what “category” to put this in but this is a sequel that doesn’t continue the story in anyway. As far as the story goes, this is weaker than the first movie, but the problem that I have, is that there was a chance to move the story forward but they don’t take it… at least not in the theatrical version. Zoey and Ben beat the game last time, now they want to find Minos, expose them and take them down, they get lured back into the game, because it was revenge from them beating it the first time, SPOILERS we’re told that no one has ever beaten the games before them and now Minos allowed people to win so they could do this tournament, so Rachel, Brianna, Nate, and Theo won their respective games because that’s what the game makers wanted. Just to get back at Zoey, either to have her join them and make new games or to take her out for beating them. But then they “beat” this game and Zoey was manipulated by them again. SPOILERS. It just wasn’t very fulfilling as a story.

Overall, I think the theatrical cut of Escape Room: Tournament of Champions is a fun movie, it’s thrilling and suspenseful! If you’re looking for a bit of mindless, stressful fun then this is the movie just for that. I think the characters outside of Zoey and Ben, have the makings to be interesting characters, particularly Rachel and Nate. I really liked and cared about Zoey and Ben’s friendship; it was built through trauma, but you can tell that they cared about each other. The escape rooms are top tier and really cause for the characters to be on their toes, so stressful. The scale is magnified even if there wasn’t a personal connection in them as there was in the first one. While I didn’t particularly like the plot twist, it was a damn good twist, as I was genuinely shocked. On the other hand, I don’t think they allowed for the characters to truly have character past Ben and Zoey. You learn very little about them and you may not care about them because of that. The acting is also inconsistent from some of the actors. There are also some dubbing issues that I found to be very noticeable. The ending may have you going “damn” but it’s unfulfilling. Otherwise, it’s fun!

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.

Have you seen Escape Room 2: Tournament of Champions? What did you think? Which escape room featured is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!

Now, for the extended version… this really changes the film. I’m going to try and make this…not too long but it’s hard not to lol.

So, in the beginning of the TR, we have a recap of the first film, and then it turns into Zoey talking to a therapist who pretty much works hard to get Zoey to take a plane to her destination. This is of course all a rouse to get her into the escape room they were planning at the end of the first movie, it was an alternate ending I think.

But in the extended version, we have a timestamp, 2003 I think, and we meet Claire, Henry and Sonya. Henry is a game master for Minos and he’s making escape rooms. Sonya tells him that she’s going to leave him and take Claire, he gets angry and tells her they’ll talk when he’s finished his work. She goes into a steam room, and I was like “girl, you dumb, you about to die” lol and just so, she gets trapped in the sauna. She bargains with her husband, hoping he’ll hear her through their wealthy technology but she starts on the puzzle, while the steam is getting more and more excessive and hot. She was so close to escaping but passes out before she could get the last metal bar open. So she dies. So, when we saw Claire and Sonya, I immediately went “Oh my goodness!” Because throughout the games, we see hints at someone named “Sonya”, and in the beach room, we see a mannequin of a blond woman and a little girl with long dark hair and a red ribbon. I realized that those were the characters we’ve just been introduced to! So, I was thinking that Henry was working on the games that our heroes were in and added in those tidbits with his daughter and wife. So, after Sonya dies, we go right into the film as normal, just without the whole thing of the therapist. Zoey and Ben are about to get on a plane, but Zoey was a panic attack, remembering her experience on the plane crash and they end up driving.

Everything plays out as it did before. I feel like we find out that Claire, older and played by Isabelle Furhman, was working with her father, “against her will”, as she was being held in a giant glass box, and she’s making the games. We find out that she’s the one making the games they’re currently in and that she created a game similar to the sauna one, her mother died in. So I’m thinking, she’s upset with her dad for killing her mom. Not to mention, a lot of the tidbits we saw throughout the game that our heroes had to use, like the bag in the train, were all little things from Claire’s childhood, that we see moments of in the EV opening. So, after Rachel and Brianna die, Zoey instead of appearing in the bedroom, wakes up in the large room Claire’s box is in, a guard is giving Zoey a drug and basically Claire is asking Zoey to help her escape her prison, as her dad made it an escape room that she can’t complete on her own. If she gets the code wrong three times, then all of the air will be sucked out of her room and she’ll die. So, because Zoey beat the games the first time, and we learn that she and Ben were the first ones to do so, and the others in these games were only allowed to win to get a champions circle going on for these games, all this was for Zoey. Also that she saved Ben from dying in the beach room and that he was in a waiting room. Meanwhile, Henry, saw the sauna room and had a reaction to it, he figures out that Claire is involved, his men finds Ben and puts him into the sauna room. So Zoey is even more against the clock to save Ben. They manage to figure out Claire’s puzzle as it required two people. She escapes just as her dad comes to the house and attempts to stop them. He ends up shot, Claire puts him into her glass box room and she and Zoey run to her dad’s study to let Ben out of the sauna escape room, where he’s currently dying in. Ben is saved, Claire tells Zoey that in helping her, she’s going to take down Minos since they’re reason her mom is dead, and she had to make those rooms and leave those hints. So Zoey goes to Ben and they think everything is finished. In the theatrical cut, Ben says “it’s over” and Zoey didn’t quite feel that way, but it obviously wasn’t because they got on the plane and it was an escape room. In the extended cut, Zoey says “it’s over”, which indicates that she really thinks it’s over because of Claire.

We then go back to Claire, who goes to her father, reveals that she knew her mom wanted to leave her dad, and that her mom wanted to get her “help” because Claire was cruel and psychotic. Claire was angry and she was the one who created the sauna escape room that killed her mother. She tells her dad that she’ll be an even better game master than he was, and she’s still mad at him for locking her in that glass room and so she sets off the trap and he basically dies in her room.

Now, THIS ending, unlike the theatrical release, leaves room for the story to continue to grow and expand. We didn’t need a sequel, even though the first film ended in both the theatrical release AND in the alternate ending, but it wasn’t necessary personally. BUT the theatrical release of ER2 doesn’t propel the story forward, whereas this one does. I prefer the extended version because it actually adds more to the story AND those clues about Sonya and the mannequins make so much more sense than what we got in the theatrical release. In the TR, Amanda from the first movie, was saved from her death and is now working with Minos because they kidnapped her daughter Sonya. So, she made these games and Zoey was meant to be the sole survivor, with Ben as their prisoner to make her be the next game master. I thought this was so dumb because for one, the mannequin pair in the beach room, looked nothing like Amanda and why would they choose her? She’s suddenly an engineer? A game designer? She was in the military, like frontlines lol. If anything, Danny should have been the one to survive as he loved escape rooms. Amanda had nothing to do with stuff like that at all. I guess because they were trying to retcon Zoey and Amanda becoming close in the first movie, but even still, it’s not the same.

But anyway, as you can see, drastically changes the movie and I prefer the extended version. It makes the story better lol and I would probably give the extended version a 2.8 out of 5.

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