Endgame Blu-ray Review

A solid, inspirational family film about chess

Endgame is family fare aimed at the English-speaking Hispanic market. Its safe, inoffensive story was loosely inspired by true events in Brownsville, Texas. A young boy helps his elementary school team from an impoverished school make it all the way to the state finals in chess, overcoming all odds. What could be a purely saccharine tale is laced with honesty and a tinge of sadness in director Carmen Marron’s heart-warming movie.

The best thing about Endgame is its likable cast, starting with Rico Rodriguez from television’s Modern Family. The child actor plays Jose Perez, the central character in this feel-good movie. Jose has been taught from an early age to play chess by his beloved grandmother (Ivonne Coll from Jane The Virgin). Jose’s deceased grandfather was a chess champion back in Mexico.

Jose is a normal boy for the most part, more geeky nerd than athletic achiever. That role in the family is reserved for his older brother Miguel, a star soccer player in high school with dreams of landing a college scholarship. Their mother Karla (Justina Machado) dotes over Miguel, leaving the younger Jose to develop a close relationship with his grandmother. Some level of resentment exists between Karla and her mother for teaching chess to Jose.

While its acting is fine and the smooth narrative doesn’t hit too many snags, the script feels aimed at a younger demographic.

A concerned teacher recognizes Jose’s talent at the game and forms a chess club for the students. Mr. Alvarado (Efren Ramirez) genuinely wants to make a positive contribution to the community and sees chess as an excellent teaching tool for the kids. He’s one of those teachers willing to sacrifice for his students and looks after them with a fatherly eye. Jose is pushed into the chess club by his close friend Dani (Alina Hererra) despite the emotional turmoil that hits Jose’s household. Can Jose channel the drama happening within his family into winning chess?

Endgame aspires to be an inspirational movie for Hispanic youth and succeeds. While its acting is fine and the smooth narrative doesn’t hit too many snags, the script feels aimed at a younger demographic. The story is told from Jose’s perspective, placing everything in context to how it affects his journey in chess and life. That mostly works out but makes for predictable storytelling.

Probably the sweetest thing in Endgame is the friendship between Jose and Dani. It’s cute seeing how oblivious Jose is to Dani’s affections. Without giving too much away, there is a ham-handed deportation story-line crammed into the otherwise straightforward plotting. It doesn’t derail the movie but could have been handled with more subtlety. Dani is an important part of the film and her arc is left undeveloped.

Endgame works for its intended audience very well and isn’t a bad movie. It isn’t going to win any Oscars but delivers a satisfying, if predictable, story of a young boy overcoming a difficult personal life and enjoying success. This is sweet, harmless family entertainment.

Endgame Blu-ray screen shot 7

Video

Shout Factory gives Endgame a sharp, glossy presentation on Blu-ray. Bearing all the hallmarks of the latest and great digital video cameras, the 1080P video beams with pristine clarity at all times. The 90-minute main feature is encoded in perfect AVC on a BD-25. Endgame is shown at a 1.78:1 aspect ratio.

Ignoring the steady but workman-like digital cinematography, the raw resolution and definition are top-notch stuff. Its perfect clarity reveals amazing detail in razor-sharp close-ups. This hasn’t been shot with a cinematic aesthetic in mind. Endgame looks and feels like a high-end television movie. A nice color palette and perfect contrast work together to make for impressive video.

Audio

Endgame receives a fairly strong 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack with modest surround activity. Perfect recording fidelity and active sound design create an immersive mix with clear dialogue. Occasional pieces of pop music are nicely balanced across the front soundstage with excellent imaging. I didn’t expect much from the audio of a family drama but Endgame easily surpassed those expectations.

Optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles display in a white font.

Extras

Shout Factory includes deleted scenes, a behind-the-scenes featurette, and an informative commentary in this package of special features. A slipcover is included for collectors.

Audio Commentary – Director Carmen Marron gives a very detailed, solo commentary. She’s excellent at remembering the details of filming and expounds at length on everything seen on screen.

Endgame Featurette (10:10 in HD) – A solid behind-the-scenes piece with the movie’s director and producer given prominence.

Deleted Scenes (02:21 in HD, 03:07 in HD) – Two scenes that didn’t make the cut: “Jose & Karla At the Cemetery” & “Jose Visits Dani”

Hispanic Heritage Promo (01:55 in HD) – The Hispanic cast members talk up what it means to be Hispanic.

Endgame Trailer (02:23 in HD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray disc. Images have not been altered in any way during the process. Patreon supporters were able to access these screens early, view them as .pngs, and gain access to exclusive shots.