"fine profile of a truly gifted genius, one is almost certain to go down as one of the all-time greats"

Every sport has its iconic figures; Football has the likes of Best, Charlton and Pele; boxing has Foreman, Tyson and Ali, and so on and so forth. A sport that often finds itself ignored by the spotlight most of the times is the game of Chess.

Chess is a sport as intense as any other, played not with the body, but with the mind, with players constantly strategising, calculating and manoeuvring to beat their opponents.

This sport has produced its own hall of iconic figures. Players like Fischer, Spassky, Kasparov and most recently Magnus Carlsen, who is profiled in the subject of today's review, the documentary Magnus, which shows us how this young genius moved up the ranks to become one of the greats of this game.

The film follows the life of the Norweigan chess player Magnus Carlsen, from his beginnings as a child prodigy of the game, to his rapid rise as the new superstar of the Chess world, culminating in his match at the 2013 World Championships against the formidable world champion Viswanathan Anand.

I should begin this review by emphasising that I know relatively little about Chess. I can play it to a passable extent, but I’m light-years away from being anything close to a grandmaster.

So you can imagine my amazement, and embarrassment, when the film presents us with footage of a then 13-year-old Magnus, going toe to toe with the legendary Garry Kasparov, who is often ranked as one of greatest players of all time, and manages to play him to a draw. The match between the two is amazing to watch, with the veteran Russian master clearly straining as he plots his next moves, only to be repeatedly bested by the young upstart before him, who does so seemingly effortlessly.

The Chess matches throughout the film, as well as the general display of Magnus’s skills, are incredible to watch and are easily the film’s highlights. The main event of the film though is the showdown between Magnus and Anand, which the film gradually builds up to throughout. Spread over several days of play, the match is intense, with Magnus straining at times under the pressure, dropping pieces, or resigning matches after being bested by the Indian champion. However, he keeps coming back, and watching it I found myself rooting for the man, engrossed and amazed at the skills being displayed.

With such exhilaration coming from these moments of play, it’s just a tad disappointing that the rest of the film is a fairly conventional documentary. We have the obligatory home movie footage of Magnus as a young boy, narrated by his devoted father describing how his son was different from most children, how he was special and all the usual stuff.

I don’t wish to sound like I’m being insulting to Magnus or his family when they speak of him, but we’ve heard this stuff before in other documentaries about great figures, eventually they all sound the same. The same goes for the quick cut montage of news footage and articles, depicting Magnus in his rise to greatness, with relatively little slow down. Again, it’s well put together, but it’s nothing particularly original.

However, the film is fairly short and the pace is brisk, with the film’s 75 minute runtime flying past and I will admit despite its fairly conventional and somewhat clichéd presentation style I did enjoy it a great deal.

Magnus might not be the most original documentary in the world, but it’s still a pretty good one.  It’s fast paced, genuinely inspiring story of a young prodigy of chess who has grown up to become one of its greatest player, and intense, exciting Chess matches scattered throughout, ensure that the film is an enjoyable watch, despite it’s rather generic and clichéd presentation style.

A fine profile of a truly gifted genius, one is almost certain to go down as one of the all-time greats in the often overlooked sport.