Cinema Dispatch: Escape Room: Tournament of Champions

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing

Directed by Adam Robitel

I have next to no memories of the first movie other than a general sense of loathing and contempt for its central premise and absurd ending. The whole thing just got memory-holed like so many bad horror movies I saw in theaters which I guess is an interesting position to be in when watching a sequel as the lack of concrete feelings definitely gives it a lot of leeway as far as trying new things; not to mention that the overall low opinion going into it only makes the bar that much easier to clear.  It’s certainly possible that whatever negativity I felt for the first film has burned itself out and I’ll be more open for whatever this Saw Knockoff franchise wants to throw at me, but then again the trailers weren’t exactly selling me on anything beyond elaborate traps and people yelling which certainly sounds familiar to what I didn’t like last time around. Besides, we don’t NEED a Saw Knockoff anymore now that they’ve brought the series back and aimed it in a new and interesting direction!  In any case, does this latest entry in the ESCAPE ROOM UNIVERSE expand upon the original and actually give us something interesting, or will this movie double down on everything that didn’t work the first time?  Let’s find out!!

Following the events of the first film (which are helpfully summarized in a sequence that might as well have started with PREVIOUSLY ON ESCAPE ROOM), Zoey and Ben (Taylor Russell and Logan Miller) are still looking for the mysterious Minos corporation that set up the elaborate game from the first film and have seemingly set up games like this all over the place.  After some cajoling from Zoey, the two of them travel to New York which seems to be their base of operations but find nothing there except an empty alley and a purse snatcher.  Said purse snatcher grabs Zoey’s compass which I THINK was given to her by one of the characters in the first movie, and after an overly long chase through the streets of New York, they wind up on a subway car while the thief jumps out at the last second.  For reasons that are never properly explained, this subway car JUST SO HAPPENS to have four other passengers on it and they all get directed into another one of those deadly escape rooms.  ALSO as it turns out, the four other people are previous winners of one of Minos’s games which makes this (as one character helpfully says out loud) a tournament of champions.  Our previous winners are Rachel, Brianna, Nathan, and Theo (Holland Roden, Indya Moore, Thomas Cocquere, and Carlito Olivero), and all six of them have to go from room to room solving deadly puzzles for some nebulous goal and the chance to maybe not get murdered, though with Zoey and Ben hot on Minos’s heels it seems unlikely that this game is just gonna swing open the doors for them even if they manage to find the right number of keys in a fish tank or whatever.  Will Minos finally be brought down by the very champions that they’ve created, or will everyone be out for themselves in a desperate bid for survival?  Is there more to this game than they first realize, or are the Shyamalan twists in this thing easy to spot from a mile away?  Does any of it even matter when the game is apparently being run by money wizards that can literally do anything at any time with these nonsensical traps? 

“I KNOW THIS ONE! It’s a selfie challenge!” *CLICK* “Okay, maybe not.”
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Cinema Dispatch: Table 19

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Table 19 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Fox Searchlight Pictures

Directed by Jeffrey Blitz

Table what now?  Has anyone heard of this movie before like a week ago?  Hell, did anyone see a trailer of this or is its target audience people who couldn’t see Beauty and the Beast because it was sold out but made the effort to get out of the damn house anyway so are going to see something else?  I don’t know about you, but that seems like a pretty niche market to go after!  Well just because no one has heard of the damn thing doesn’t mean it’s a BAD movie.  Hell, Shawshank Redemption was a HUGE flop and now it’s one of the most beloved and overexposed films of all time!  Okay, so this probably isn’t gonna be THAT good, but maybe it’ll still manage to be rather enjoyable.  Let’s find out!!

The table in question refers to a table at the wedding reception, and the nineteenth one is the LAST table in the hierarchy of wedding guests.  While all the important people are at the first few tables and all the REAL guests are in the latter ones, the ones who were invited but weren’t expected to show up were placed at the TABLE OF INFINITE SHAME!!  The guest list includes the brides former babysitter (June Squibb) which seems kinda mean spirited, a couple who worked with the one of the dads of the married couple many years ago (Lisa Kudrow and Craig Robinson), a family member who screwed someone out of A LOT of money (Stephen Merchant), and… some teenager (Tony Revolori).  Honestly, I don’t remember why he’s even there in the first place, but his shtick is that he’s horny all the time so maybe he’s on hand to fill a cliché quota.  ANYWAY!  There’s still one more person at the table.  The best friend of the bride (Anna Kendrick)!?  SAY WHAT!?  She’s ALSO the former Maid of Honor and is personally responsible for the seating arrangements!?  As it turns out, there was a major falling out, particularly in regards to the brother of the bride (Wyatt Russel), and while she ultimately decided to still go, she’s stuck with the losers and rejects who probably resent being considered losers and rejects.  Will shenanigans inevitably ensue now that a Molotov cocktail of resentment has landed at the table with people who pretty much have nothing to lose here?   Just what exactly happened between our heroine of sorts and the happy couple’s family?  WHAT ARE THEY GONNA DO TO THE WEDDING CAKE!?

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“We’re all in agreement.  The cake had it coming, and we will never speak of this again…”

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