Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 7/16/21

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Sexy Beasts (CREDIT: Netflix)

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

Movies
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (Theaters)
Pig (Theaters)
Space Jam: A New Legacy (Theaters and HBO Max)

TV
McCartney 3, 2, 1 (July 16 on Hulu)
Schmigadoon! Series Premiere (July 16 on Apple TV+) – All episodes directed by Barry Sonnenfeld.
Sexy Beasts Series Premiere (July 21 on Netflix) – Looks like the dating version of The Masked Singer.

‘Escape Room: Tournament of Champions’ Repeats Its Predecessor’s Formula and Keeps Hinting at a Greater Conspiracy

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Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (CREDIT: Sony Pictures)

Starring: Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Indya Moore, Holland Roden, Thomas Cocquerel, Carlito Olivero, Deborah Ann Woll

Director: Adam Robitel

Running Time: 88 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Violence That Cuts Away From the Most Graphic Parts and Profanity Including One (1) F-Bomb

Release Date: July 16, 2021 (Theaters)

I mostly enjoyed Escape Room: Tournament of Champions, but I’m a little worried about what this franchise will be like by the time we get to Escape Room 2000: Ultra Super-Duper New ‘n’ Improved XTreme Tournament of Ninja Warriors, which will arrive much sooner than we’re prepared for. I’m rooting for our plucky heroes to take down the evil cabal behind the whole game, but the dictates of horror sequelization demand that it can never quite be defeated. So subsequent entries will surely be some combination of overly repetitive or increasingly ridiculous to justify the continuation. Tournament of Champions mostly repeats the formula established by the first Escape Room, while ostensibly inching ever so closer to the Big Bad Behind It All, and also ultimately mostly being about teasing the next chapter.

I wouldn’t be going through all this fretting if I were living in a post-Escape Room Cinematic World. If I could watch all of the theoretical absurd sequels in the comfort of home one right after the other, I could easily treat it as an anthropological excursion. Instead, I’m still motivated by my genuine hope that everything will work out for the plucky Zoey (Taylor Russell) and Ben (Logan Miller), the survivors from the first go-round. Let’s call it the Nightmare on Elm Street Rule, wherein the relatively crappy latter-day sequels are mostly endearing if you watch them at least 20 years after they were released. That’s not to say that Escape Room has already reached that period with Tournament of Champions. It’s just that I can see The Inevitable, and it’s in my nature to get hung up on it.

But if I can pull myself back into the present for a moment, I can happily take in the vicarious thrills of a scrappy group puzzling out all these deadly traps. Both Escape Room flicks are basically PG-13-ified, less relentless versions of Saw. The tone is thereby one of cleverness and adrenaline, rather than gory sadism. In that vein, Escape Room also has a tendency to occasionally venture into the cheesy and overly cute, especially when Zoey and Ben miss some Major Clues that are right in front of their eyes. But that’s part of the charm! Honestly, I don’t think I would have it any other way. (Hey, maybe I’ve already learned to stop worrying and love the Silliness of It All…)

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions is Recommended If You Like: Horror movie franchise churn

Grade: 3 out of 5 Clues