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Endgame (Blu-ray Review)

EndgameThe inspirational feature film Endgame, starring Rico Rodriguez (Modern Family), Ivonne Coll (Jane The Virgin), Efren Ramirez (Napoleon Dynamite) and Justina Machado (The Purge: Anarchy), will debut on DVD and Blu-ray on July 5 via Shout! Factory, and will have bonus features including Spanish-language subtitles.  Endgame is a fictional story based on true events – how an impoverished high school in the border town of Brownsville, Texas, started a chess team and went on to become state champions. The touching family-friendly film also touches on the subjects of immigration, teen drinking, being true to one’s self, and bullying. Endgame was directed by Carmen Marrón (Go For It!), a former guidance counselor with a dream of making films with positive role models for Latino kids. Shot in Brownsville in just 19 days, the film captures how a determined and caring teacher and his chess club found a way to help students rise above their challenges to meet a brighter future.

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Film 

Jose is struggling with living in the shadow of his popular soccer-star brother, who is favored at school as well as by their mother. He finds comfort in playing chess with his abuelita, who has been teaching him to play like his grandfather, a champion in Mexico.

Now as part of the Brownsville school team, Jose has the chance to use his chess skills and, for once in his life, find himself in the spotlight, as he tries to help his team make it to the Texas state finals. As their coach, Mr. Alvarado, teaches his students the meaning of perseverance and team effort in the face of adversity, Jose discovers his own strengths and uses them to bring his broken family together.

This little true story is one for all ages, but also carry with it some deep dramatic weight.  There are issues dealing with grievance and loss as well as immigration and deportation.  Some of this is handled solid and respectfully other parts feels rushed, silly and heavy handed.  All in all, I think this film was working with a clock in terms of run time so that will happen.

Performances all around are pretty solid, with a good leading turn from Rico Rodriguez.  There are some outstanding supporting turns from Justina Machado, Efren Ramirez and Jon Gries.  The cast of children is also very good and not at all apathetic like some of these movies can get.  All in all, this group of actors turns in a believable, emotional and overall upbeat performance.

Here’s an alternative sports type film for kids and families that should be appealing in life and world lessons.  Its got a surprisingly strong cast and while not setting the world ablaze with its ingenuity, its still solid entertainment for everyone.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail:  Endgame comes onto Blu-ray with a very solid looking picture.  Its nothing wow’ing, but looks decent nonetheless.  Details and textures are decent and coloring looks lively and full.  The image looks an uptick over that of an HD television broadcast.

Depth:  Depth is a above average and solid.  Spacing is good between objects, people and environment with smooth clear movements.

Black Levels:  Blacks are solid and manage to work without hiding any detail.  No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are natural with a hint of flourish in some more elaborate colors.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and lifelike with consistence throughout the film. Facial details are solid in medium and close-up shots, featuring looks at wrinkles, make-up, freckles and more.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Endgame 2

Audio

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English, Spanish

Dynamics:  Endgame features a pretty good 5.1 mix.  This isn’t an overly complicated film, and is mainly people talking and playing chess.  With those regards, its a pretty satisfying and above average experience.  There is a good balance between vocals, score and effects.

Low Frequency Extension:  Not a whole lot of bumping going on here, this is a kids movie about chess.  But when the subwoofer is put to task, rather lighter ones, it does its job respectfully.

Surround Sound Presentation:  This is a front heavy 5 channel experience.  Rear speakers come into play with some ambiance and heavily scored scenes.  Front channels give a good accurate depiction of onscreen movement and placements.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is clean and clear.

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Extras 

Audio Commentary

  • With Carmen Marron

Featurette (HD, 10:10) – A nice little fluffy behind the scenes piece with interviews from cast and crew.  Much of it focuses on how great Rico is and working with minor labor laws.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 5:28) 

Hispanic Heritage Promo (HD, 1:55) – Cast members talk about what it is to be Latino.

Trailer (HD, 2:23) 

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Summary 

Endgame is a solid family film with lessons on grievance, moving on in life, deportation and carving your own path in life.  Shout! Factory brings it to Blu-ray with a very good performance in both the audio and visual departments.  The extras are okay.  I’m not sure about the power of rewatch value on this one, but its definitely one for the family to check out if you have little ones and want something for everyone to watch.  Though, you might have to explain a bit about drunk driving among other things.

Endgame-Blu-ray

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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