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American chess champion Bobby Fischer prepares for a legendary match-up against Russian Boris Spassky.
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Pawn Sacrifice movie full length review - Pawn Sacrifice
Before going to see the new film, Pawn Sacrifice based on the true story of Bobby Fischer and his ultimate chess match between the then Russian champion, Boris Spassky, I enco
untered quite a bit of opposition from different people regarding the film and basing opinions on it before they had even given the film a chance and watched it. A lot of people seemed to be disenchanted by the fact that Tobey Maguire, was playing Bobby Fischer. I think a lot if not most of these criticisms were based on the fact that people did not seem to think that Maguire, neither looked, or had the same type of presence that Fischer had. Also being known as extremely temperamental (which later turned out to be a long battle with mental illness), would Maguire be able to pull off more of a complex role such as this? I think in a lot of people's minds it was kind of like the casting choice of when they got Ashton Kutcher to portray Steve Jobs in the 2013 movie about his life. I think it is safe to say that when Danny Boyle's version with Michael Fassbender opens next month that there will really be no comparison between the two performances and one will likely lead to Oscar gold whereas the original performance was nominated for a Razzie for Worst Actor for Kutcher. I will have to defend Maguire here and say that his performance throughout the film was pretty spot on. How truly it reflected the mannerisms, or real life episodes of Bobby Fischer, I do not know, but for a two hour film he captures your interest and gives what I thought was a decent and thought provoking performance. It won't win any awards, but for what it was it was good enough. Whether another actor would have portrayed and done the role more justice is something I do not know, and unless they make another biopic about Fischer, we will just have to wait and see. Another criticism was that the film should be a biography of Fischer and capture his whole life story as opposed to just covering the part of his life in the late 60's and early 70's with his chess match with Boris Spassky. While a full film covering all of those details would be absolutely fascinating, it would no doubt probably take too long to do and be a long film to watch, so I give credit to the filmmakers here who do touch also upon Fischer's early life and do a pretty good job of condensing everything into a two hour film. I would love to see a three hour biopic, or miniseries about Fischer, but who knows if that will ever happen. As the film stands though it is quite good. The film looks like it was done on more of a miniscule budget and I find that this aspect helps the film by not being overly flashy, or like a big budget Hollywood film. It feels more like a small indie film that is more concerned with storytelling and performances, which is what I generally tend to prefer anyways. The film is fascinating in several different aspects. Bobby's personality for one as one who is certainly dealing with paranoia and various forms of mental illness is riveting and fascinating to watch. You can see him further unravel as time goes by and how he makes these chess games his life and that it may also be the undoing of him. The fact that a lot of the people around Bobby including the American people and government seemed to me at least to be exploiting Bobby because of how good he was at chess and yet he certainly was a disturbed person, so should this have all been allowed to go on? And the fact that all the various world events at the time (the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the Watergate Scandal) all seemed to be put on the backburner over a game of chess between the Americans and the Russians. You can't help but feel that this was almost a clever diversion using a talented yet tormented man to bring forth this diversion whether he was mentally, or physically up to it, or not. Watching people play chess would probably turn a lot of people off because of sheer boredom, but here it is fast and slick and every bit as exciting as watching any other championship game of sports. The filmmakers have successfully managed to make chess and the playing of it interesting as well as showing all the world events at that time being wrapped up in these games and by also delaying, or ignoring the current political situations at the time. As well as Bobby's unraveling into mental illness and those trying to exploit him to better the name of America, the film does certainly leave a lot to think about. The writing is captivating here and the direction is low key but suit's the film perfectly. Maguire does a better than average job playing Fischer and the always good Michael Stuhlbarg and Peter Sarsgaard are great supporting players. The film is a look back at time at important events and makes you think even more about them, whether critically, or positively and makes a captivating time of it all. Definitively recommended viewing.