"99 Homes" Vs. "Pawn Sacrifice"
This review contains spoilers.
America, let’s face it; we’ve been through two Spider-Mans. It’s been thirteen years since the release of the first “Spider-Man” movie, introducing us to Tobey Maguire’s awkward but adorable Peter Parker, and three since the release of “The Amazing Spider-Man”, featuring Andrew Garfield’s perfectly snarky Spider-Man. Tom Holland will make his debut as Spidey in May 2016, in “Captain America: Civil War”, effectively rendering the previous two franchises unnecessary to watch - unless you’re a giant fan of Spider-Man, which makes perfect sense, or if you’d like to watch two beautiful examples of franchise decay.
Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield still exist though, and their newest two movies were released way too close to each other to be a coincidence. On September 16th, “Pawn Sacrifice” was released, starring Tobey Maguire as kind-of-crazy-but-super-talented chess champion Bobby Fischer; on September 25th, “99 Homes” was released, starring Andrew Garfield as single dad Dennis Nash, who gets swept up into the terrifying world of real estate. The characters they’re playing in these movies are nothing like your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man at all, so the question is: which ex-Peter Parker did it better?
“99 Homes” is a thriller and a tragedy about the housing market, and Andrew Garfield is absolutely heartbreaking in it. After having his house foreclosed, Nash’s only job opportunity is to work for the man who took his home from him (coincidentally, he’s played by the same guy who played Zod in “Man Of Steel”, so if you’ve ever wanted to see that comic book mashup, you’re in luck). Though he ends up making the money he needs to make, it’s done through means that make him a lot of enemies, and in the end, what he’s done comes back to haunt him. For anyone who’s ever struggled to pay the bills, this movie will hit way, way close to home, and for that reason, it’s my personal favorite of the two.
While “99 Homes” takes place during the housing crisis, “Pawn Sacrifice” takes place during the Cold War, and tells the story of the 1972 World Chess Championships. Bobby Fischer was America’s hope to beat the Russian Boris Spassky (coincidentally, he’s played by the same guy who played Sabretooth in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, so if you’ve ever wanted to see that comic book mashup, you’re in luck). Though Fischer was a brilliant chess player, he was also kind of insane; when he’s having his nervous breakdowns and freak-outs, it’s like you’re right there, going through that with him. But when he’s playing chess, you’re rooting for him like you’re watching the match go on live in your living room with your family.
So which movie is better? Though “99 Homes” is winning critically, with a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes in comparison to “Pawn Sacrifice”’s 71%, it really depends on what you’re looking for. Chances are you won’t be able to relate to a racist chess champion as much as you will a single parent struggling to pay the bills, but while “99 Homes” ends with our main character broken and alone, “Pawn Sacrifice” ends with the entire country celebrating Fischer’s victories. Regardless of which one you end up preferring, you’ll end up watching a good movie - it definitely doesn’t hurt to watch both.