Plot: What’s it about?
What so many movies do to us today is appealing and appauling both. Movies have the ability to shape our opinions of different events, change history and leave a lasting impression long after we walk out of the (home) theater. It seems to be a more and more common or recurrant theme to alienate little kids. By this, I mean that in so many movies, most recently in “My Dog Skip” and “The Sixth Sense”, we see that they treat the main character as somewhat of an outcast. We see these kids who are either going through something extra-ordinary or life-changing and on top of all that, they are bullied and made fun of. My question is why? In the case of “My Dog Skip” it’s a true story, so that’s a bit self-explanatory, but it’s an isolated case. Not all kids were bullied or picked on and sat at home with nothing to do all the time. Others were like Josh Waitzkin (Max Pomeranc) who was an everyday average, normal kid. Josh does possess an unusual ability to play the game of chess…and aside from that, he’s normal. He plays little league, he has friends and does well in school. Maybe he’s a bit shy, but aside from that, nothing sets him apart from any other boy hig age…and that was something nice to see, even if the movie is seven years old now!
Aside from the fact that this movie is about chess, it’s not at all like you might expect. Some people would rather watch paint dry than either watch or play a game of it. What this movie does, if anything, is help the viewer gain and understand, if even accept, the game of chess as more of an art form than just a game. Of course, the title is called “Searching for Bobby Fischer”, so there’s a little explaining to do. Bobby Fischer was, and apparently still is, the reigning world champion chess player. Born with a natural talent for the game, he was a child prodigy. Fischer couldn’t get enough of the game and studied it until the wee hours of the morning. He ate, slept and drank it, he loved it so much. It so happened that about 20 years ago, he promptly won a match and then disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again. This brings us to the present when Josh discovers that he has a natural knack for the game as well. Josh is an prodigy in his own right and feels more content down at Washington Square (the movie takes place in New York City) than constantly studying the game with his teacher (played by Ben Kingsley).
Josh’s father, Fred (Joe Mantegna) isn’t at all like the stereo typical father either. He is a bit overbearing and wants Josh to suceed. Josh’s natural gift and talent of chess give him an opportunity to make life a little better for Josh…but does Josh want that opportunity? Searching for Bobby Fischer is more than a movie about chess, that’s obvioius. It’s always amazing to me how good a movie can be if it’s got the right chemistry of talent, directing and storytelling and this movie has all three. In addition to the already great cast, that includes an underused Lawrence Fishburne, look for early “before they were stars” appearances by William H. Macy and Laura Linney.
Video: How does it look?
Shot and presented in it’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, the image is enhanced for widescreen TV’s, as is consistent with most all of Paramount’s titles now. The image looks, for the most part, very good and clean except for a few spots that look a bit overexposed and some have a purposely “muted” look. No digital artifacting to speak of, and the black levels are right on target. While the whole color palette that composes this movie is sort of a soft feel, there are a few outdoor shots that have a very bright look to it, that really brings out the picture. For the most part, it’s shot in parks and indoors, so those outdoor scenes are few and far between.
Audio: How does it sound?
If ever there was an dialogue driven movie, it’s this one. The sound is a remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that does have a depth and feeling about it, but it’s still a movie that could pass for a mono. Don’t let that distract you, there are some surround effects that sound quite good and the constant slapping of the chess clock (I guess that’s what it’s called) even sounds pretty good sometimes. It’s also nice to see that the 5.1 soundtracks keep coming out, as this could easily have been a Dolby Surround mix.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Aside from the 16:9 transfer and 5.1 sound, no extras are on the disc.