Blu-ray & DVD Review: ‘Pawn Sacrifice’ Is a Quiet Winner as ‘Pan’ Is Strictly Kid Stuff

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Dec. 22, 2015 (Gephardt Daily) — The two films being released today couldn’t be further apart on the spectrum.

“Pawn Sacrifice” is the slow deconstruction of a genius by his own fears and excesses. “Pan” is a childhood fantasy bringing back cardboard swords and shields and backyard fun.

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Levi Miller and Garrett Hedlund
Directed by: Joe Wright
Rated: PG

Twelve-year-old orphan Peter is spirited away to the magical world of Neverland, where he finds both fun and dangers, and ultimately discovers his destiny — to become the hero who will be forever known as Peter Pan.

“Pan” is aimed at young kids mostly, with loud and over-the-top characters, lots of colorful scenery and impressive special effects.

However the story lacks a spark. There is no sense of discovery and wonder in a movie that should be bursting with wonder and discovery.

And that’s the film’s biggest flaw, because with no childlike feel and whimsy, it is as if the producers are not inviting the audience to join the fun.

“Pan” is a one-trick pony with little to offer anyone beyond the coloring book stage of life.

As a kids’ film, I am giving it a B. It carries a PG rating.

“Pawn Sacrifice”
Starring: Tobey Maguire and Liev Schreiber
Directed by: Edward Zwick
Rated: PG-13

In a gripping true story set during the height of the Cold War, American chess prodigy Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maguire) finds himself caught between two superpowers when he challenges the Soviet Empire to a game of chess.

Also starring Liev Schreiber as Russian chess champion Boris Spassky and Peter Sarsgaard as Father Bill Lombardy, “Pawn Sacrifice” chronicles Fischer’s terrifying struggles with genius and madness, and the rise and fall of a kid from Brooklyn who captured the imagination of the world. But it is his own demons that ultimately undo him as he simply can not cope with his success.

“Pawn Sacrifice” isn’t an action film. It is a character study. The film takes great pains to convey Fischer’s descent into madness over several years. With absolutely impeccable performances by Maguire and Schreiber, the film is a celebration of acting methods.

However, most audiences will steer away from the film for because it isn’t a action/thriller, and they sadly will miss out on one of the best performances of the year.

“Pawn Sacrifice” is an intelligent and methodical film and needs to be seen.

It gets a B+ and is rated PG-13.


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