Generally favorable reviews - based on 12 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 12
  2. Negative: 0 out of 12

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Sep 17, 2011
    For those who love chess, Fischer will probably always be its premier player, a fact his mental illness cannot expunge.
  2. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Sep 15, 2011
    The result is a gripping film about a subject almost too good to be true.
  3. Reviewed by: Gary Goldstein
    Sep 22, 2011
    This expertly constructed film follows the curious and tragic life of the troubled chess icon as he went from child prodigy to global legend to paranoid recluse.
  4. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Sep 8, 2011
    Bobby Fischer Against the World does not traffic in easy explanations or medical diagnoses, but it leaves the strong impression of a continuity between the oddness Fischer displayed in early interviews and the mania so jarringly evident toward the end.
  5. Reviewed by: J. Hoberman
    Sep 6, 2011
    The sorry spectacle of the ranting codger never effaces the image of the boy concentrating his entire being over a chessboard. You have to love that kid and pity him.
  6. Reviewed by: Nev Pierce
    Sep 6, 2011
    A compelling look at the tragic and bizarre life of an enigmatic champion.
  7. Reviewed by: James Greenberg
    Sep 6, 2011
    Liz Garbus' documentary tells the compelling and powerful story of the late chess prodigy.
  8. Reviewed by: Dennis Harvey
    Sep 6, 2011
    Assembly is brisk and high-grade, allowing for the variable quality of archival materials.
  9. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Sep 6, 2011
    If this profile is marred slightly by thematic tidiness and a willingness to overglorify the champion's rise (Fischer didn't even write his best-seller, Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess), it still supplies a cracked, conflicted genius trapped in his ceaseless endgame.
  10. 75
    Beyond the knights and rooks, Bobby Fischer Against the World tells the story of a Jewish kid raised in Brooklyn who spent his final years in exile as a fulminating anti-Semite and a raving anti-American.
  11. Reviewed by: Arthur Ryel-Lindsey
    Sep 6, 2011
    Note the noticeable uptick in the cleverness of the on-screen graphics or fitfully remember the movie poster's tagline, "His Greatest Match Was in His Mind," and you'll belatedly come around to the jarring downshift into Fischer's latter-day paranoia and anti-Semitism.
  12. Reviewed by: Ray Greene
    Sep 6, 2011
    Garbus' over-reliance on interviews that state rather than dramatize Fischer's excellence makes this a portrait that too often seems more overheard than inhabited.

Awards & Rankings

User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 8 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Oct 31, 2011
    Bobby Fischer is arguably the greatest chess player of all time. Even if you do not play chess, you know his name and his accomplishments.Bobby Fischer is arguably the greatest chess player of all time. Even if you do not play chess, you know his name and his accomplishments. However, who exactly is the man who sits in front of the chess board? Director Liz Garbus tackles that subject and shines a light not only on his professional life, but a brighter one on his personal life. Bobby Fischer Against the World tells about one fascinating man who had a gift for playing the complex game of chess. Ever since he was a boy, he loved the game and it is undoubtedly safe to say he became obsessed with it. But with his genius, he paid a heavy price in the other areas of his life. Bobby Fischer thought the world was against him, but come to find out, it was him against himself the entire time. Fischer had a troubled childhood and the game of chess saved his life. It gave him something he could really apply himself to and it certainly paid off. At the age of 15, he became the U.S. Champion and became World Champion when he was just 29 years-old after defeating Boris Spassky during the height of the Cold War. After that, Fischer was seen as a hero by everyone because he was the American who beat the Russian. And the best part is finding out what occurred before and during the matchup. The realization of the destruction Fischer causes within himself while battling with his own demons starts to sink in and show its ugly face. After he becomes the Michael Phelps of his time, Fischer takes a hiatus from chess and refuses to defend his championship. It isnâ Full Review »
  2. Sep 10, 2011
    Recommended viewing for chess fans but broader appeal could be limited because the Cold War subtext seems irrelevant now and the movie doesRecommended viewing for chess fans but broader appeal could be limited because the Cold War subtext seems irrelevant now and the movie does not have a dramatic arc so much as a focal point - the 1972 Fischer-Spassky match. The treatment of the buildup to and playing of that match was adequate - particularly noteworthy is footage of Fischer engaged in exercise workouts to gird himself for the grueling intellectual contest to come. However, the film should have pushed the audience to follow more details of the key strategies used - this is ultimately a movie about chess after all. Once the movie moves past Fischer-Spassky, it seems to lose its bid for pathos, although it keeps up with the chronology of Fischer's life, patchy as it becomes due to his reclusiveness. The frequent inclusion of on-camera interviews with various people who knew Fischer or know chess proved a stylistic distraction - more voiceovers would have been better, so that the film could have kept more of its focus on its charismatic subject. Full Review »