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Interesting story, good characters, great acting
Posted by: kidsfirstmedia from: on
Endgame is an interesting film with some good characters and memorable performances, but the plot could use a little work. Although, at the end of the movie, I had a smile on my face.
At a very young age, Jose (Rico Rodriguez) starts to learn chess from his Abuelita (Ivonne Coll) but he has always been in his brother’s shadow. When tragedy strikes, Jose receives a calling to become a chess champion. The movie is inspired by the true story about a school in Texas that built an champion chess team.
My favorite character is Mr. Alvarado (Efren Ramirez) because he never gives up on the kids and even spends his rent money to get them to a tournament. Another character I like is Jose's grandmother because she is always giving him good advice, encouraging him to do the right thing and she teaches him to play chess. There are other performances that stand out for me. Rico Rodriguez puts a lot of effort into his role and he is very believable. So does newcomer Alina Hererra who plays Jose’s friend and is the person who gets him interested in playing chess for the school.
As much as I like the characters and the actors, the plot is uneven and I feel as if I’ve seen parts of it in other films. Some scenes are pretty inspiring, but others just feel cheesy and stylized. When the plot tries to take an emotional turn, sometimes it ends up going flat and didn’t resonate with me. I enjoyed the ending of this movie anyway because it is a pleasant surprise.
Compared to films about baseball or football, chess doesn't get much attention in the film industry, so it is nice to see it recognized in this film. I am also surprised how deep the film delves into social issues. The ending also managed to surprise me in spite of the plot problems in how it was executed. I like some of the music in this film and it really signals the right tone in some scenes.
I recommend this film for ages 12 to 16 due to some language and some crude humor. I give it 2 out of 5 stars. It's not perfect but if you like Rico Rodriguez from the TV series Modern Family or chess, you'll probably enjoy Endgame.
Reviewed by Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic. For more reviews by youth, go to kidsfirst dot org.
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