Checkmate (2011)


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Not Totally Tops

If you have ever seen a movie that had anything to do with chess as a main plotline, then you probably understand how the films typically play out. Dramatic to the tenth degree, intense music while playing chess, huge close-up shots of the chess pieces (as if you ARE the chess piece), and let’s not forget the super slow-motion shots every time the pieces move. Okay, that may be over-exaggerating the truth, but you get the drift. Most of the time, these movies are also pretty tense…something in the editors desk was done right for those movies…because when you think about it…it’s just a board game. Checkmate is one of those rare films where everything was done hilariously, and impossibly bad.

Enter Aaron Carlson, a high school lawyer wannabe who just isn’t making the cut when it came to grades. Not to mention…his aspirations of one day becoming a lawyer are shot down so bad from everyone that he has ever known. Somebody seems to like his style, and invites him to a secret society that allows him to enter the University of his choice…simply by winning a chess tournament…that’s right. You heard that right. If he wins a chess tournament, that will somehow win him acceptance into a LAW SCHOOL.

Let’s go ahead and dive right into the facts. This was a movie made by Pure Flix, the Christian capital in the movie industry. That’s not why it’s bad however, in fact, you can barely even tell this is even Christian in the first place. This movie is bad because if you went ahead and drew up the full cast and crew to this film, and researched their role in the making of this movie…you could tell that they weren’t doing their job properly, because each individual part was so…so…bad. There was terrible lighting, terrible acting, terrible writing, terrible music, the quality didn’t even seem to be filmed on an HD camera, in fact…everything about this movie screamed high school video project. The plot was terrible, it made no sense…why is chess a secret society? How does winning chess win you a scholarship…to ANY UNIVERSITY OF YOUR CHOICE? The chess moves were lame, there was nothing that made a lick of sense, and they decided to create a catchphrase, and seemingly wanted it to catch on (“That’s totally tops!”). They say it so often, and it sounds so stupid that you can create a drinking game based solely on that catchphrase.

On the upside…the movie is hysterical…because it was trying to be serious. With a plot so absurd and acting so bad…almost every scene in the movie is hilarious. Yes, you are making fun of every second of it, but at the same time…how can anyone be so bad at making a movie? Did anyone actually watch this before they produced it? When I watched this movie, I laughed so hard I cried, I choked on my pop, and it came out of my nose. Don’t get me wrong…this movie sucks. Bad. But it ranges in that territory of “so bad it’s good”.

What’s the moral of the story? Well it would seem to be to never give up on your hopes and dreams, but what it ends up sounding more like…hey, here’s a way to get into a top Law School while failing high school! What sorcery is this? Chess! DUN DUN DUN! It’s absurd. That’s pretty sad, considering Christian movies, whether they seem Christian or not, are always focused on the moral of the story…this time it wasn’t there.

Be warned, this is on Netflix Instant Steaming. It may be recommended to you if you like any type of legal thriller or movie based off of a board game (like Battleship). Stay away from it. You’re welcome. I just saved an hour and a half of your life.

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