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Pawn Sacrifice 2015

PG-13 CC
Available on Prime

In a gripping true story, American chess prodigy Bobby Fischer finds himself caught between two superpowers and his own struggles as he challenges the Soviet Empire.

Starring:
Tobey Maguire, Peter Sarsgaard, Liev Schreiber
Runtime:
1 hour, 56 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Thriller, Mystery
Director Edward Zwick
Starring Tobey Maguire, Peter Sarsgaard, Liev Schreiber, Michael Stuhlbarg
Supporting actors Lily Rabe, Robin Weigert
Studio Bleecker Street
MPAA rating PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
It’s impossible for a moviegoer to find out precisely how much of a biopic is true to life, but online history-checking articles help a lot. The subject of this movie, Bobby Fischer, was extraordinary for being as young as he was to become a world-renowned chess champion, and for creating a milestone in the Cold War by defeating the Soviet Union’s greatest chess player, Boris Spassky, in a world championship. As a psychologically motivated biopic (biographical picture), Pawn Sacrifice first shows Bobby as the young prodigy who grew up without a father figure and whose mother may have cared more about participating in communist activities than about him and his sister. The movie rushes through Fischer’s childhood rather quickly. Then it becomes the purview of Tobey Maguire, the adult Bobby Fischer. I read that he immersed himself in everything he could find about Bobby Fischer. His eyes are the most important facial feature he uses in expressing Fischer’s personality, as they convey dedication, inhibition, disinterest, suspicion, and explosive chaos. All of Maguire’s energy goes into creating this neurotic who becomes more psychotic over time. It is a good thing that the movie stops after he wins the World Chess Championship in Iceland in 1972, as his mental health deteriorated yet further afterward. It would have taken away some of the enjoyment of the movie to have to watch that process; the epilogue/end credits is sad enough.

It’s not very clear why Fischer became anti-Semitic, an undesirable quality which is addressed at several points in the movie. He became unhinged emotionally and had ongoing uneasiness about his mother, paranoia that the Soviet government wanted to kill him, and a conspiracy theory belief that the Jews wanted to control the world and must be stopped.
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Format: Amazon Video
This review concerns itself mostly with historical accuracy and the reasons for the lack of it here and there in the film. I question some of the accuracy of the way Bobby Fischer is depicted throughout the film, some of the events (not the obvious fictional liberties taken for various reasons that really make no difference, e.g. the prostitute, if that’s what she was supposed to be), and the historical accuracy of the behavior of the Russians before and during “The Match of the Century.”
The acting, and in fact the entire production, is first rate. This is no simple minded biopic and it couldn't be since 43+ years have passed since the events depicted, the USSR no longer exists, and no one cares about chess, so the emotional component is largely missing. The audience is more dispassionate. The script is pretty good, and reasonably true to the public events described. I’m less certain about the “behind the scenes” goings on because what we see is Fischer’s madness and little else. Was he that far gone in 1972? We don’t know. Some people might know, but nearly all of the participants in that drama are now dead or at least very old. The film production did not fully grasp the profound significance of Fischer’s accomplishments and, sadly, today’s chess players’ fears were realized; there is some really stupid stuff about the way chess played. At least the boards were properly placed.
Fischer’s mother did not take him to a chess club in order to rid him of his obsession. She may have taken him in order to get him to socialize. She was proud of what her son could do, and in fact lobbied politicians to obtain money so he could compete overseas.
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4 Comments 85 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
If Hollywood is intent on making movies based on board games, can there be more chess and less Battleship? In the same way that boxing films shine on the big screen, chess is a man-on-man clash of wills with keen strategy in place of right hooks. It rewards brutal precision, forward thinking, and knowledge of the opponent even better than oneself. It's no wonder the very best start practically right out of the womb, and all other concerns pale against the deep commitment it takes to become a master. Not everybody can hack it; many crack under the intense pressure. Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maguire) is one of those who understood chess like few others ever have, and that level of genius inspires a kind of madness that is depicted in Ed Zwick's efficient chess drama, Pawn Sacrifice.

Ever since his days as Spider-Man ended, Maguire has been choosy about the roles he takes. Pawn Sacrifice is a passion project he's been developing for a while, and it's clear the devotion he has to the material. He plays Fischer, the Brooklyn kid who challenged the Russian chess champion Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber) in the 1972 world championships in Reykjavik. That would be enough pressure for a couple of men, but there were bigger concerns than that; geopolitical concerns Fischer didn't give a care about but was part of nonetheless. With the Cold War at its peak, both America and the Soviet Union saw the match as a show of intellectual and ideological strength. It was up to Fischer to bring America the victory it sorely needed, the only question was whether his fragile psyche would survive the stress.

A game of speed chess can be lightning fast and hard to follow, but Pawn Sacrifice plays Fischer's story with calculated precision, at least initially.
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