3 out of 4 stars
The Cold War and Vietnam War still raged in the summer of 1972, when two men started “World War III on a chess board,” to quote a line from Ed Zwick’s Pawn Sacrifice.
U.S. chess great Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maguire) and Soviet grandmaster Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber) captured the planet’s attention as they fought for the world champion title in a series of games in Reykjavik, Iceland.
It was an unreal time, fuelled by paranoia and ambition between the two nations and between the volatile Fischer and the stoic Spassky.
The acting is solid, including Peter Sarsgaard as a coach in clerical garb.
But Zwick (Glory) and screenwriter Steven Knight (Locke) don’t have much to say about the social context of the Fischer-Spassky bout — Watergate and the incipient cult of celebrity are barely referenced. But the film gets the particulars mostly right, depicting a pre-Internet world of analog communications and superpower hostilities.
Archived news reports and a Dick Cavett interview fit seamlessly into the dramatic recreations, as do era-specific rock tunes.
Extras include a making-of featurette.
2 out of 4 stars
Delightful to look at yet baffling to contemplate, Pan is a feast for the eyes but famine for the brain.
Director Joe Wright lets his freak flag fly, in this loopy retelling of the Peter Pan story. He and screenwriter Jason Fuchs obviously didn’t feel bound by much more than the character names in their frantic imagining of a prequel to the J.M. Barrie novel classic about the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up.
Hugh Jackman’s pirate Blackbeard looks like a Mad Max villain designed by Terry Gilliam, with his shaved head and Snidely Whiplash moustache.
Rooney Mara’s warrior Tiger Lily is done up with every hue of the rainbow.
Garrett Hedlund’s James Hook is an Indiana Jones wannabe in dress and voice, missing only the whip but still retaining both hands. Aussie newcomer Levi Miller plays Peter, an energetic lad who at least is within shouting difference of Barrie’s original concept.
After driving us crazy for nearly two hours, Pan just peters out.
Extras include a director’s commentary and making-of featurettes.