Film Reviews: ‘Roma’ compels, ‘Escape Room’ bores

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An award-winning, critically-acclaimed masterpiece by Alfonso Cuaron (“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” “Gravity,” Children of Men”) and a low-budget horror film by first-time feature director Adam Robitel are among the new (and new-ish) choices facing movie-watchers this week.

“Roma,” which just captured the Golden Globes for Best Foreign Language Film, Best Screenplay and Best Director, was co-produced by Netflix, where it’s now streaming after a short run in movie theaters.

The puzzle-themed fear-and-slaughter flick “Escape Room,” which opened last weekend, is proving attractive to horror fans, having nearly doubled its $9 million dollar budget in just one weekend at the box office.

But is it good enough to bring a sequel?

Here’s what a pair of writers from our pool of young, local movie critics have to say about these two films.


Anderson Templeton

Seeing “Roma” feels more like people-watching than movie-watching.

Not once did it feel like I was watching a contrived plot enacted by actors, but more like experiencing a living and breathing national geographic photobook featuring captured moments in time. There were so many small sequences in “Roma” that I’m simply not used to seeing on screen, and that’s one of the things that makes this movie so compelling to me.

This includes everything from the single shot of Cleo, our housekeeping “protagonist,” going from bedroom to bedroom, waking up each child in the home, to the wide shot of Cleo waiting for her boyfriend on a curb while the hustle and bustle of the street carries on around her. The high level of realism is all is very poignant. It brings to light how much is truly happening under the surface of what appears to be mundane.

In “Roma,” each small moment, each kiss, each sibling argument, overheard phone call, a trip to the furniture store, each everyday moment has the potential to shape the characters.

That’s pretty much how real-life works.

So anyone who is compelled by day-to-day life, black-and-white photography, and has the patience to sit still and “people-watch” for a couple of hours, “Roma” is definitely worth the experience.

[Suggested emojis: Smiling Face, Thumbs Up]


Alexa Chipman

In a botched attempt to profit from the popularity of escape rooms, this film suffers from cartoonish overacting and unimaginative writing. With self-conscious special effects and blaring sound design, each potentially surprising moment was telegraphed long before it occurred, rendering the horror elements entirely toothless.

Other than physical dangers in each room, the puzzles were mediocre at best.

A well-crafted game is intellectually challenging and forces players to rely on communication to survive, whereas this film tossed out a few easy - albeit sadistic - puzzles that individuals could solve on their own.

The erratic pacing of scenes gave me whiplash. Characters are screaming while climbing through flame-filled ducts one minute, then calmly discussing details from their past a few seconds later.

Save your ticket money and go enjoy an actual escape room.

[Suggested Emojis: Poop emoji, Sleeping emoji]

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