Movie Reviews

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (2021)

escape-room-tournament-champions-movie-reviewDirector: Adam Robitel

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Horror

Runtime: 88 Minutes

Main Cast: Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Deborah Ann Woll, Isabelle Fuhrman, James Frain, Indya Moore, Thomas Cocquerel, Holland Roden, Carlito Olivero

Plot: Following the events of the original movie, Zoey (Taylor Russell) and Ben (Logan Miller) travel to New York with the aim of exposing the terrible deeds of the mysterious company known as Minos. They find themselves caught in yet another escape room, and the fight for their lives begins once again.

My Thoughts: It is a CRIME that I missed both Escape Room movies at the cinema. The first one because I wrongly assumed it was pure horror (at the time I was avoiding horror) and the sequel because the only showing of it at my cinema was at like, 10pm and…that’s my bedtime. Rock and roll, me. When I eventually gave the original a chance, I loved it, for all it’s goofiness and dumbness. If you enjoy puzzles and/or if you’ve ever done an escape room yourself, it’s really hard to not find something to enjoy. The one thing I really hated was how it ended, I wanted it to stay a stand-alone movie but now? I’ve changed my mind.

Not every movie has to be considered for multiple awards. Some of them can exist just for enjoyment, mediocre movies that are simply fun to watch and let you forget about the real world for a while. I can see now that this is going to be a franchise that carries on for a few years at least. I’m happy with that for the meantime, now. These escape rooms are crazy, deadly without being gory (apart from that opening scene) and just about smart enough that you won’t figure them out too soon before the characters do.

I realise that within the space of 2 days I’ve hated on the classic Casablanca whilst also singing the praises of dumb movies, but you should come to expect that from me now. There’s a reason this is a hobby and not a job for me, ha! I’m sure the third installment will be worse, but in my honest opinion, the Escape Room sequel was actually better than the original.

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Best Bit: I’m struggling to decide on my favourite room. I think overall, the bank was the best one for the sheer number of puzzles it contained, but the acid rain in the city room was intense! I actually felt my whole body tense up for that.

Worst Bit: I wish I was at the cinema for the moment a character uttered a line along the lines of “What is this? A tournament of champions?” so I could have groaned aloud. But other than that, have these characters not learned yet that the rooms are designed to kill someone off each time and going back to save someone destined for their doom is a really bad idea?!

Fun Trivia: The Escape Room Company got its name after the mythological king Minos. Minos had Daedalus create a labyrinth in which the Minotaur would dwell. Seven boys and seven girls were given to the monster to be eaten every nine years.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 umbrellas that aren’t going to be of much use if you happen to find yourself caught in an acid downpour…

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Movie Reviews

Shithouse (2020)

shithouse-movie-review-poster-2020Director: Cooper Raiff

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Runtime: 100 Mminutes

Main Cast: Cooper Raiff, Dylan Gelula, Amy Landecker, Logan Miller, Olivia Welch, Abby Quinn, Joy Sunday

Plot: Alex (Cooper Raiff) is having a tough time settling in at college. He misses his family terribly and his roommate is a jerk to say the least. One night he pushes himself to try harder and attends a party at Shithouse, which is where he meets Maggie (Dylan Gelula), a girl who understands him.

My Thoughts: I might be in my 30’s with a husband, child and mortgage but I’m still a big kid deep down so let me start by saying that the title alone was enough to make me want to watch Shithouse. It won the biggest award at SXSW this year, quite the feat during a year when the festival was cancelled! In its most basic form, Shithouse is a coming of age movie, but deep down it’s so much more than that. It’s a movie for the kids who never fit in, who cried on the phone their Mum and stood awkwardly in the corner at parties.

It’s rare for a movie to show that side of college in the first place, let alone from a male perspective. Boys cry too, you know? Alex even has a stuffed toy in his room that speaks to him through the power of subtitles. When he meets Maggie it seems she has it all figured out, but the more he gets to know her it’s clear to see she’s struggling too. Even his roommate Sam (Logan Miller) is having a hard time, it’s just difficult to tell when he’s forever getting drunk and boasting about his comedic skills.

This is Cooper Raiff’s directional debut but I’d never have guessed. I’ll definitely be looking out for what he makes next. As an actor he does a great job but you can tell he doesn’t have the experience with bigger projects when he’s on screen with Dylan Gelula or Logan Miller. All in all, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy Shithouse as much as I did. It’s a low budget movie that doesn’t need to try and be bigger than it is, and I highly recommend it!

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Best Bit: There’s no stand out moment for me, per-say, but I just loved how real it all felt. That’s the joy with indie movies I guess, they don’t have to pander to a wide audience so it’s easier to find something that really resonates with me. There’s no magical click of the fingers to solve a problem for Alex, he has to work at it.

Worst Bit: Again, no specific moments jump to mind but the middle section REALLY drags. It’s important to the story but it slows the whole movie down to a snail pace and my mind started to drift.

Fun Trivia: The film was set to have its world premiere at South by Southwest in March 2020, but the festival was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The South by Southwest film competition nevertheless went ahead, and Shithouse won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative Feature.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 goldfish that, should you ever go on holiday, you shouldn’t leave in the care of Maggie.

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Movie Reviews

Escape Room (2019)

escape-room-movie-review-2019-posterDirector: Adam Robitel

Genre: Thriller, Drama, Mystery

Runtime: 99 Minutes

Main Cast: Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Jay Ellis, Tyler Labine, Deborah Ann Woll, Nik Dodani, Yorick van Wageningen

Plot: Six strangers find themselves locked inside a series of deadly escape rooms, filled with dangers and clues specifically relevant to their pasts.

My Thoughts: I misjudged this movie completely. I don’t know why but from the name and the poster, I assumed it was a terrible modern horror movie filled with jump scares, taking full advantage of the popularity of escape rooms. I don’t think I’ve ever even seen a trailer, but it was only when I discovered my brother had dragged my poor scaredy cat mum to see it that I find out what kind of movie it was.

It’s not a horror at all, in fact it’s an absolutely fascinating little thriller movie with an unfortunately awful ending. It feels low budget for all the right reasons, with a cast of lesser-known actors giving it their all. Yes, the acting is a little dodgy in places, but I found it easily forgivable. I love a good puzzle and it was actually a lot of fun trying to solve the clues with this bunch of characters.

There’s a specific reason these people have been brought together, and clues within the rooms as well as glimpses of their backstories tell us why, and it’s enough to make you actually care about them – which I find rare in movies like this. It’s no masterpiece but it’s certainly another surprise of 2019. It’s a running theme this year, movies that I thought would be mediocre have turned out really quite good.

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The let down of Escape Room is the ending. I won’t ruin it for you of course but it needed to end 10 minutes earlier than it did. Not because it felt long, but because it had a satisfying enough ending that was left open slightly, and then it just gets out of hand. It’s like telling someone a joke, them finding it hilarious, and then you explain the punchline to them in such detail that the joke ends up not being funny anymore. A shame, really!

Best Bit: I just loved solving the puzzles. I’ve only done 1 escape room myself – it was Sherlock Holmes themed and unlike this movie, we weren’t in any real danger but it was just so much fun!

Worst Bit: There’s a bit in the second room where the group needs to find the name of the reindeer. It was so obvious it was Rudolph and it took them so long to work it out! I have no idea what went through my husband’s mind when he found me sat on the sofa shouting, Rudolph. Rudolph! RUDOLPH! OH MY GOD IT’S RUDOLPH YOU IDIOTS.

Fun Trivia: An alternate ending was filmed in which Zoe receives a clue hidden in a Sudoku magazine that leads her back to her professor’s classroom. Once there she discovers a check from Minos for $10,000 hidden in a compartment where her classroom seat is. She destroys it, but underneath it is her dead mother’s compass. A camera/microphone device then rises from her professor’s podium and a distorted voice speaks to her as the classroom door shuts, telling her a new game has started and she has 90 minutes.
Are you kidding me right now? This ending would have been amazing!

My Rating: 3 and a half winter coats, which still isn’t enough to keep the whole group warm!

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Movie Reviews

Review: Love, Simon (2018)

love-simon-movie-review-2018-posterWho has two thumbs and went to the cinema twice in two weeks? This gal! No, I can’t believe it either. Thanks to my amazing husband for pushing me to actually leave the house and my bestie for being my date! This week was a movie we’d both been really looking forward to and the rave reviews just made us even more excited. Love, Simon might just be the best Rom-Com of 2018 and we’re not even halfway there yet.

Simon (Nick Robinson) is your average teenager. He has two loving parents, a sister who he actually gets on with but wouldn’t dream of telling her and, well actually Simon does a pretty good job of explaining his life in the opening narrative so I won’t take that away from him. Thing is, Simon has a huge secret that no one knows – he’s gay.

Simon’s school has a gossip blog and one day a confession post is published by an author titled as Blue. Blue reveals that he is, in fact, gay, and so Simon creates an anonymous email profile to contact Blue and strike up a friendship which eventually leads to love. That’s the basic plot here, with plenty of other High School drama and antics thrown in here and there. It was so much fun trying to work out who Blue actually was and it was an amazing reveal at the end! I don’t know if it was obvious to anyone else but I never see these things coming.

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It’s the characters that drive movies like these forward and separate the mediocre from the ones you’ll never forget, and the characters in Love, Simon are great. Even the ‘bad guy’ has lovable qualities and you can’t help but find him funny. I absolutely loved Tony Hale as the hilarious Vice Principal, in my favourite role of his since Arrested Development.

In fact, I think my only gripe with the entire movie was that it wasn’t quite angsty enough – but that’s just my own personal preference. There are sad moments for sure but everything still feels a bit sugar coated. Having said that though I think Love, Simon is a really important movie. I was reading through a few reviews on Letterboxd after seeing the movie and some movie fans were using their reviews as their own chance to come out, and I think if a movie can have that kind of positive effect on people then that’s an amazing thing.

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What else I think is great is that it’s a movie for all to enjoy. It doesn’t feel like a movie made for the LGBT community, is accessible for all. If two married women approaching their 30’s (sorry Steph if you’re reading this) can enjoy it, then so can you! Love, Simon gets 4 and a half Halloween Oreos from me and gosh darn it I wish they were available in the UK, they sound delicious.

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Movie Reviews

Review: A Dog’s Purpose (2017)

a-dogs-purpose-movie-review-2017As a movie blogger, I feel the need to have a ‘never say never’ kind of attitude when it comes to actually watching movies. I tell all my friends and family “If there’s ever something you want to see at the cinema and no-one will go with you, I will!”. That’s how I found myself watching Fast & Furious 5 with Jenna (having watched none in the series prior) and The Monuments Men with my husband (still haven’t forgiven him). It’s also how I wound up at the cinema last week with my Mum to see A Dog’s Purpose.

Why do we do this to ourselves? That’s what we asked each other while queuing for a cup of tea. We know this movie is going to make us cry, and yet we just can’t help ourselves. I don’t know whether to be thankful for the fact that the screen was fairly busy (more people crying to make me feel better) or full of shame because my Mum likes to choose the quiet moment to blow her nose.

If you don’t know already, A Dog’s Purpose is one dog’s story about trying to find meaning in his life. Or should I say lives, because in this world, when a dog dies he is brought back to life as a new born puppy. Say it with me now, ‘awww’.

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The dog we get to follow is called Bailey, and we hear his thoughts through the ever entertaining Olaf LeFou Josh Gad. I’ve got to admit, anyone with a deep love for their own pet will find a lot of humour in Bailey’s commentary, especially if you’ve ever had an actual conversation with your dog, cat, parrot, or whatever you have.

Of course it made me cry. It would make even those with the coldest hearts tear up just slightly. I wasn’t timing it or anything, but I’m fairly sure there were 2 dog deaths within the first 10 minutes of the movie. If that’s not enough to get you, there’s a healthy dose of angst, domestic abuse and alcoholism that might tug on those heartstrings instead.

If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen the whole movie, sadly. Bailey has a few other lives that are saved for the big screen itself, but the middle section of the movie is all just filler, leaving you waiting for the big reunion moment that you know is coming. It’s not a masterpiece movie, but it knows what it wants from it’s audience and it succeeds in that, so what more can you say!

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I’ll tell you one last thing though, I’m fairly certain my Mum and I both went home and hugged our pets extra tight that night. It didn’t stop me from cursing my cats with every bad word invented when they hid a live bird from me of course, but for that evening, they were my favourite things in the world. In fact, can we have A Cat’s Purpose next year? Just follow the same principle, but make it an hour and a half of cats being a******s instead. I’ll watch that.

3 out of 5 bottles of Baileys from me. It’s clever, because that’s the dog’s name, but it also makes me sad because I haven’t touched alcohol since Christmas.

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