Spoiler-Free Review of “Escape Room: Tournament of Champions” in Theaters: Welcome Back to the Game

*This is a spoiler-free review so feel free to read on!*

“Whatever you do, don’t let them win…”

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions is the sequel to 2019’s Escape Room. The film premiered in theaters on July 16th 2021. It stars Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Holland Roden, and Indya Moore, and runs for approximately an hour and thirty minutes.

After winning and surviving the escape room the first time around, Zoey and Ben are determined to take down the mastermind behind the game, bringing them to a set of coordinates in New York City. However, they quickly discover that they are back in the dangerous game along with a previous group of winners.

Here is the trailer:

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions is filled with new games and challenges to keep us on our toes, but does the second film have enough of an edge to measure up to the original film? Let’s find out…

The Pros:

Images courtesy of Sony Pictures

Exciting new setting.

Getting around New York City is basically like one big puzzle so I thought it was brilliant to have it as the new setting for the Escape Room sequel. I thought the games were really intense and I loved that we just jumped right into things. We got a little bit of set-up and some flashbacks to remind us about where we left off at the end of the first film, but once the games started back up again, it was a fast-paced roller-coaster ride of adrenaline.

Impressive twists and reveals.

I am a big fan of the first film even though I thought it went a little bit off course with the ending. However, it did set things up for a second film so I guess there’s that. I was a little bit worried that the second film would feel slightly routine since we already knew what was going on, but we were thrown several curve balls along the way and there was one major reveal that had me almost screaming in my seat.

Well played!

The Cons:

Images courtesy of Sony Pictures

Annoying use of flashbacks.

I understood the point of the recap/flashback in the beginning of the film. It reminded us about what happened and it also helped fill in the blanks for a new audience. However, the film continued to use the flashbacks later on to remind us how certain characters felt about one another. I thought this was slightly insulting to the audience (we can figure this out on our own) and unnecessary, but it didn’t take up too much time so I’m over it.

So am I in or out?

Images courtesy of Sony Pictures

I’m in!

This film was intense from start to finish. It was really entertaining and a lot of fun. I thought it was just as strong as the first film and I think fans will be happy with it. I still can’t get over that major reveal!!!!!!

I hope you enjoyed the review and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on Escape Room: Tournament of Champions in the comments section below. Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

THIS COMPETITION IS KILLER…

When former friends, Shay and Adriana team up to participate in a Halloween scavenger hunt with a cash prize, they temporarily put their differences aside to outsmart their opponents. However, they soon start to realize that a dangerous threat is playing their own version of the game, stalking them during each hunt.

Winning is now a necessity as their lives are at stake. As old wounds and memories re-surface, Shay and Adriana attempt to unmask the threat before the night is over, but soon learn that Scream Hunt is not done with them just yet…

My new young adult horror thriller comes out October 7th 2021! I hope you enjoy!

Scream Hunt is available here!

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Spoiler-Free Review of “Gossip Girl” Reboot on HBO Max: Why So Serious?

**This is a spoiler-free review so feel free to read on!**

“Been a minute…did you miss me?”

The reboot of Gossip Girl premiered on HBO Max on July 8th 2021 with the first episode. The remaining nine episodes will air weekly. Each episode runs for approximately 55 minutes. The reboot stars Jordan Alexander, Whitney Peak, Tavi Gevinson, Eli Brown, and Emily Alyn Lind.

Kristen Bell returns as the voice of Gossip Girl, but the rest of the original cast do not. The Upper East Side is back on display as we follow a new group of teenage elites and witness them go to scandalous measures to get what they want while attending Constance Billard. The original Gossip Girl website may have shut down, but a new source emerges to keep the dirt coming.

Here is the trailer:

Gossip Girl (2021) has a lot to live up to as the original series was an entertaining guilty pleasure to indulge in. Are we ready for a reboot of the series and does it do enough to find a voice of its own? Let’s find out…

The Pros:

Images courtesy of HBO Max

A more diverse cast.

Much like the Saved by the Bell and Charmed reboots, we are presented with a more diverse cast for the reboot of Gossip Girl. I think this is a step in the right direction to be more inclusive this time around.

Sibling rivalry and a new Gossip Girl.

The main plot reminded me a little bit of One Tree Hill. We have half siblings who end up in the same school and drama is high as a result. I think this is the best part of the show so far and I’m interested to find out more about the true intentions of both siblings and how far they will go to keep up appearances.

We also get a twist on the new “Gossip Girl” and learn the identity right away. This takes us away from the outrageous reveal at the end of the original series and also gives us a chance to connect with a different set of characters that may see things a little bit differently. I’m intrigued by this so far.

Images courtesy of HBO Max

A familiar voice to put us at ease.

It wouldn’t feel right with anyone else narrating the show as the infamous “Gossip Girl” and hearing Kristen Bell’s voice made me feel right at home. Sure, the dialogue is a little outrageous, but there was a much needed nostalgia present as a result, especially since the rest of the cast is absent…even though we get plenty of reminders and name drops along the way to keep us tuned in.

The Cons:

Images courtesy of HBO Max

Don’t lose sight of what made the show work in the first place…

My biggest con with this reboot is that it takes itself way too seriously. The dialogue is beyond atrocious. I understand we are focusing on a new generation, but no one talks like this. While Riverdale presents us with some over-the-top dialogue as well, it still manages to keep us entertained because it knows when to lighten the mood even during some of the angst-filled melodrama.

In similar fashion, the original Gossip Girl worked because it was so outrageous and it embraced this. The cast really elevated the characters and made you care about them…even though they were horrible human beings!

Blair Waldorf is the iconic Queen Bee of television and even though Chuck Bass was beyond ridiculous, he was so entertaining to watch! The back-stabbing and twists just somehow worked because the show understood that it was meant to be a guilty pleasure teen drama.

The reboot is having an identity crisis and is taking itself too seriously, which makes the execution flat and uninspiring. I don’t care about any of the characters yet and it was honestly really difficult to watch a lot of the pilot episode, which is beyond disappointing.

So am I in or out?

Images courtesy of HBO Max

I’m 50/50 on this one…

I want to give this show a chance to get better because I am a fan of the original series. However, the majority of the pilot episode was painful to watch. I am going to give the show at least three episodes to change my mind, but it needs to really make some major changes if it wants to connect with a new generation and fans of the original series.

I hope you enjoyed the review and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on the Gossip Girl reboot in the comments section below. Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

DON’T TAKE THE JOB…

It was only supposed to be temporary…but when Olivia Crewe accepts a new position that seems too good to be true, she soon discovers that twelve other girls previously had the same job as her. Only none of them lasted for more than thirty days. No notice. Nothing…right before they mysteriously disappeared without a trace.

My supernatural thriller Girl Number Thirteen is out now! I hope you enjoy!

Girl Number Thirteen is available here!

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Spoiler-Free Review of “The Undoing” on HBO: Nicole Kidman returns to the small screen

**This is a spoiler-free review so feel free to read on!**

The Undoing is a new mystery drama limited series from Big Little Lies creator, David E. Kelley. It premiered on HBO on October 25th 2020. The series will air six weekly episodes on HBO and HBO max. It stars Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Donald Sutherland, Lily Rabe, and Matilda De Angelis.

Based on the novel, You Should Have Known, The Undoing follows Grace Fraser, (Kidman) who is a successful therapist living in New York City with her husband and son. After meeting a new mom at a school auction group, a mystery emerges and secrets begin to unravel.

Here is the trailer:

Those of us missing Big Little Lies may be extremely excited about the team-up between Kelley and Kidman once again, but comparisons are not always the best thing for a new show. Does The Undoing do enough to earn its own merit? Let’s find out…

The Pros:

The Undoing Cast Nicole Kidman HBO

Images courtesy of HBO

Incredible cast!

Much like Big Little Lies, The Undoing has an amazing cast. The acting is incredible and Nicole Kidman really shines as Grace. I am also really intrigued by Elena’s character. There is this magnetic mystery radiating from her and I want to know more! 

I can’t say enough good things about Nicole Kidman, but I need to take a moment to fully appreciate how stunning she is in that dress at the auction…wow! I have a feeling we will see elegant and timeless fashion from her over the episodes.

I want to know more! Mission accomplished.

The Undoing Nicole Kidman HBO 2

Images courtesy of HBO

There is this slow burn approach to the series, as we immerse ourselves in Grace’s life and the drama that surrounds it. The acting is so good and I was never really bored.

As soon as we got to some of the reveals later on in the pilot episode, I was hooked. I have so many questions and I need to watch the next five episodes immediately.

The mystery is a good one and I’m invested for sure.

The Cons:

The Undoing HBO 3

Images courtesy of HBO

Comparisons to Big Little Lies.

It’s hard not to make comparisons when you have the same creator and the same lead actress, but comparing this show to Big Little Lies is not doing it any favors. Rather, I think that if you take a step back from that and treat this show as something completely separate, you will enjoy it more.

This is supposed to be a psychological thriller with drama and it is succeeding so far. While I do see the similarities between the two shows, I am going to give this show the proper chance it deserves.

So am I in or out?

The Undoing Nicole Kidman HBO 4

Images courtesy of HBO

I’m in!

This show is exactly what I need right now. It presents us with a compelling mystery that hooks you right away. Nicole Kidman is incredible and I can’t wait to watch more episodes!

I hope you enjoyed the review and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on The Undoing in the comments section below. Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

DON’T TAKE THE JOB…

Girl Number Thirteen Lurking Promo

It was only supposed to be temporary…but when Olivia Crewe accepts a new position that seems too good to be true, she soon discovers that twelve other girls previously had the same job as her. Only none of them lasted for more than thirty days. No notice. Nothing…right before they mysteriously disappeared without a trace.

My new supernatural thriller Girl Number Thirteen releases on November 12th 2020! Available for pre-order! I hope you enjoy!

Girl Number Thirteen is available here!

**If you enjoyed this blog, I would love it if you would click the follow button on your way out to subscribe.  Thanks for your support!