Pawn Sacrifice Screen 7 articles

Pawn Sacrifice

2014

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  • The first problem lies in the perceived necessity, also inherent to artist and writer portraits, of dramatizing his chair-bound exploits in real time. Steven Knight’s script withholds the nuances and deeper significance of chess, presenting it as generic indoor combat explicated through sound design (clacks on the board, ticks of the timer) and statistical abstraction.

  • Although Edward Zwick's "Pawn Sacrifice" has the great virtue of centering on expert performances by a cast including Tobey Maguire, Liev Shreiber and Peter Sarsgaard, it ends up as a sad example of the inherent difficulties of dramatizing a cerebral face-off like the 1972 battle royale between chess masters Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky.

  • The moves are none too surprising but the psychological back-and-forth still compels attention in “Pawn Sacrifice,” director Edward Zwick’s conventionally well-crafted dramatization of the life of Bobby Fischer.

  • A classically helmed biopic that brings nothing new to the genre, but benefits from handsome craftmanship and solid performances by Tobey Maguire as the Brooklyn boy wonder, and Liev Schreiber as his longtime Russian nemesis, Boris Spassky.

  • A flawed yet entertaining docudrama about an irresistible subject... The drama, directed by Edward Zwick and written by Steven Knight, takes liberties with the story and shears off some fascinating details; despite the rigid yet slapdash filmmaking, the movie conveys the outsized fascination and mystery of a tormented genius at work.

  • Maguire may be the lead, but Schreiber — whether dressed in a sober gray Soviet suit or emerging from an ocean swim like a sea god deciding he'd like to have a strut on land — takes his queen every time. Even so, Pawn Sacrifice clicks along with crisp efficiency. Zwick, the director behind movies like Glory and Blood Diamond, is old-school in his attention to craftsmanship, alive to telling details.

  • The film's thesis, that Fischer's sweeping paranoia was the product of the era's fearmongering and the kind of absolute myopia necessitated by chess, is perhaps too elegant and simplistic to be fully convincing, but director Edward Zwick's decision to present Fischer's life as a political thriller remains perversely engrossing.

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