Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Critical Thinking * Incredible, fleshed out Characters, Emotional Story

The true story of the Miami Jackson High School chess team which was the first inner city team to win the U.S. National Chess Championship. Directed by John Leguizamo, starring John Leguizamo, Rachel Bay Jones, Michael Kenneth Williams and more. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Rohan F. comments, “Critical Thinking is a film with incredible, fleshed out characters in an emotional story, which surprises you at every turn. It gets you to connect with the characters quickly and made me actually feel bad for them when things went wrong.” See his full review below.

Critical Thinking
Reviewed by Rohan F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Critical Thinking is a film with incredible, fleshed out characters in an emotional story, which surprises you at every turn. It gets you to connect with the characters quickly and made me actually feel bad for them when things went wrong.

Critical Thinking tells the true story of the lives of members of the Miami Jackson High School chess team during the U.S. National Chess Championship. It goes into the motivations behind the members and their team supervisor, Mr. Martinez, as they struggle to get out of a system that doesn’t value them via the chess tournament. It follows the journey of them starting out, raising money to get to the tournaments, and the events that occur during the tournaments, As well as all the problems throughout. The film also goes into the specific details of the members personal lives to show their daily struggle.

The characters are developed incredibly. The film makes you feel like you know the characters. It makes even the most insignificant characters interesting. They are all real people who make real choices about their lives for better or worse. I really enjoy the way they showed the players develop during the competitions. They play like real people and make mistakes like them too. There are very complicated relationships between characters that help them develop their abilities and personalities.

The score is subtle and matches the film. There was never a point where I noticed that the score was practically good or bad, but it fit the themes and changed when necessary.

My favorite scene was the final chess match. Marcel took risks which made sense for his character. The other members of his team appear genuinely nervous because they don’t know who is going to win. They put Marcel under a lot of pressure, and it is unclear if he is going to break because of it. There is one point where an offer is made to him and it is unclear if he would be willing to abandon his team for personal gain.

The film has a message that people who come from different places can still accomplish incredible things. As well as the problems with the school systems view on people of color.

Overall, I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 13- to 18, plus adults because it covers some very mature topics.

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