Thursday, September 24, 2015

FILM REVIEW: Pawn Sacrifice

I found out about the new movie Pawn Sacrifice last week and decided to go see it over the weekend at the Pasadena Arclight Cinemas with members of the Occidental College chess club (which I serve as faculty advisor).

The film Pawn Sacrifice is a screen dramatization of the real-life story of how Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maguire) defeated Boris Spassky (Liev Schrieber) in one of the most high-profile chess matches ever in 1972. The Fischer-Spassky match was one of the key proxy battles in the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, since chess had been a game dominated by Soviet Bloc (primarily Russians) for decades. Fischer's win is one of the most extraordinary events in all of sports. He is the only American in the modern era to have won the world chess championship.

The movie does a good job of depicting Fischer's meteoric rise to the top of world chess at shockingly young age (at the time he was the youngest International Grandmaster ever at the age of 16 in the mid 1960s) as well as not shying away from showing his troubled upbringing, bizarre (anti-semitic and racist) beliefs and rather frightening (and bewildering)  mood swings.

I know that you are thinking that a movie centered around games of chess must be like watching paint dry but director Ed Zwick (who is mostly well-known  for his television programs thirtysomething and Once and Again) does an outstanding job of directing the film and telling the story in a way that would engage even people uninterested in chess.

Overall I enjoyed Pawn Sacrifice quite a bit and I'm glad that I saw it!

Title: Pawn Sacrifice.
Director: Edward Zwick.
Running Time: 1 hour, 51 minutes.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for brief strong language, some sexual content and historical smoking.
Release Date: September 16, 2015.
Viewing Date: September 19, 2015.

Writing: B+.
Acting: A-.
Visuals: C+.
Impact: B-.

Overall Grade: B (3.0/4.0).

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