“Escape Room: Tournament of Champions” offers popcorn entertainment right at home.

Escape Room was a cute little Saw-esque surprise of January of 2019, and while there were certainly some struggles with the screenplay, as well as its PG-13 rating feeling as if it was holding itself back from its pure potential, I was still pretty satisfied with the experience as far as January horror films go. Audiences, like myself, also surprisingly gravitated toward the film, and it became a surprise hit, grossing $155 million off of a measly $9 million budget. Naturally, with such a return on investment, Sony was eager to turn another profit with an inevitable sequel, and given how the first film ended with a serious “Are you fucking kidding me?” cliffhanger, it had to happen. Escape Room: Tournament of Champions released in July of 2021 after many COVID-related delays, to similarly middling reviews as the first film, but with a similarly positive reception from fans of the mindlessly fun series. While it only made $51 million on an increased $15 million budget, for a film releasing exclusively in theaters in the midst of a global pandemic, I’d still say it pulled its own weight enough to consider it a success. Now, Sony is bringing Escape Room: Tournament of Champions home on home media, and it might even be a more fun experience at home.

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L-R: Taylor Russell as Zoey Davis and Logan Miller as Ben Miller in ESCAPE ROOM: TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS.

Picking up almost immediately where the last film left off, Escape Room: Tournament of Champions follows Zoey (Taylor Russell) and Ben (Logan Miller) as they travel from Chicago to New York to investigate the headquarters of Minos Escape Rooms, after barely surviving their own deadly game in the first film. As they struggle to locate anything concrete about the company, they soon discover that their subway car has been rigged with a Minos trap, soon realizing that they are once again in a deadly game of survival with other previous winners of the games. An all stars game of fatal proportions then gets underway as the group traverses Minos’s sadistic game once more.

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L-R: Taylor Russell as Zoey Davis, Logan Miller as Ben Miller, Holland Roden as Rachel, Indya Moore as Brianna, and Thomas Cocquerel as Nathan in ESCAPE ROOM: TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS.

Let’s just be straight up here, Escape Room: Tournament of Champions is, in essence, the exact same film as before, and the way you felt about the first one should give you an idea of how you would enjoy this installment. When Escape Room: Tournament of Champions leans into its diet-Saw tendencies, it’s a barrel of stupid fun, which, thankfully, the film tries to do for the majority of its short 88 minutes (or 96 minutes, if watching the extended cut, which we’ll get to shortly). The major struggles with the film beyond just being mindless entertainment are that there are moments where they’re really trying to hammer into place an overarching narrative arc between Zoey and Ben that’s simply not that interesting, and in fact, really spoils the mood at times by how serious they play the whole thing. While I appreciate Russell and Miller’s presence in the film, there’s something to be sought after in just some standalone movies that get directly to the goods.

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L-R: Holland Roden as Rachel, Indya Moore as Brianna, and Thomas Cocquerel as Nathan in ESCAPE ROOM: TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS.

This being said, the extended cut included in the Blu-ray actually feels like a more complete version of the film than the theatrical cut does, leaving me to wonder what the reason was for making such ridiculous callbacks to the first film in the theatrical third act of the film, as opposed to an expansion of who exactly is doing this to these witless people. Isabelle Fuhrmann joins the cast as the daughter of a Minos game maker and adds a lot more life and emotion into the pretty standard fare thriller that is really needed, at least if they’re going to try to convince me to care for the actual story here. Fuhrmann brings an energy to her role that almost makes checking out the film a second time worth it for those who might not have even liked this to begin with, as it changes the pace and ultimate payoff of the narrative leading to the film’s insistence on being a franchise being more well-earned.

As for the Blu-ray itself, it gets the job done nicely, but I was left wanting a bit more simply in its potential. Sony has released the film only on a standard Blu-ray, neglecting a 4K release for the film, which really feels like a missed opportunity seeing as this film, particularly this specific installment, benefits greatly from an enhanced budget, as well as a really vivid color palette that would’ve been stunning in a full 4K HDR image. Don’t get me wrong, the 1080p image here is clean, colorful and bright, but in 2021, a franchise film from the pioneers of the Blu-ray format that was not a bomb at the box office should not just be available on standard Blu-ray, particularly when much larger Sony bombs (Don’t Breathe 2, Monster Hunter, Charlie’s Angels) did receive full 4K releases.

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L-R: Indya Moore as Brianna, Taylor Russell as Zoey Davis, and Holland Roden as Rachel in ESCAPE ROOM: TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS.

Also good, but lacking in its potential is the film’s DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound audio track. Again, this is a great, bass-heavy soundtrack that fills the room nicely, and I’m less angry about this omission more so than the 4K snub, but once again I wonder…how much better would a true Dolby Atmos/DTS X mix would’ve been? Seeing how good the current audio track is, I can’t imagine it could do much more other than add a bit of depth in the overhead channels, but it still feels like a bit of a snub by Sony here, especially when they pride themselves on such polish and technological advancement.

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Thomas Cocquerel as Nathan in Columbia Pictures’ ESCAPE ROOM: TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS.

The extended cut in and of itself is a fabulous special feature for the Blu-ray, and it does work out to be the most substantial supplement on the list, as the remaining special features really only scratch the barebones surface of what is to be expected from a major studio these days. These include the standard EPK material on the production design, cast, and direction, and that’s about it. The special features are:

  • Go inside the Minos escape rooms
  • Meet the players
  • Director Adam Robitel on raising the stakes

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions was a film I saw on a Sunday afternoon and nothing could explain the film more perfectly than that. It’s a harmless 90-minute matinee romp with more logical fallacies than there are numbers in the universe to count them, but…who honestly cares? It’s a polished, decently acted, if clunkily written, movie that benefits from stylish direction from Adam Robitel, helmer of the first film. Your enjoyment/tolerance of the franchise’s first installment pretty much directly affects how you’ll feel about this one, and that’s okay! The extended cut included in this release actually makes the storyline a bit more interesting as a whole, and I wish Sony had gone with this for the film’s theatrical cut so it could be a canon option going forward, but regardless, it is the ideal way to experience the film, though seeing the theatrical cut as well is useful in its own right. When it comes to mid-size horror franchises, there are far worse ways you can spend your time than in the Escape Room universe, as long as you know you’re not getting fine artisanal fare, but rather the most popcorn tasting popcorn movie you’ve ever seen. Don’t question anything you see and you should be okay. But I’d certainly wait for a sale, or a 4K release…whichever comes first.

Available on digital September 21st, 2021.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD October 5th, 2021.

For more information, head to the official Escape Room: Tournament of Champions website.

Final Score: 3 out of 5.

Escape Room 2



Categories: Home Release, Home Video, Recommendation, Reviews

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