Brooklyn Castle

Critics Consensus

Brooklyn Castle is a warm, engaging, and even uplifting documentary about chess-playing whiz kids.



Total Count: 51


Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,637
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Movie Info

Brooklyn Castle is the remarkable and improbable true story of I.S. 318 in Brooklyn. The school, where 65% of students live below the federal poverty level, has the highest ranked junior high chess team in the nation. The heart of the film is the engaging young students who populate the team: Rochelle, who has the goal of becoming the first female African-American chess master; Pobo, the team's charismatic leader; Justus, an entering student who must manage the high expectations that come with achieving master status at an early age; Alexis, who feels the pressure of his immigrant parents' desire for him to realize the American dream; Patrick, who uses chess to help overcome his ADHD; and James, the young rapping maestro and budding chess talent; among several others. -- (C) Official Site

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Critic Reviews for Brooklyn Castle

All Critics (51) | Top Critics (24)

  • Brooklyn Castle does a superb job of celebrating the triumph while reinforcing the relentless vigilance it requires from everyone involved.

    Oct 7, 2013 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Brooklyn Castle is inspiring stuff that grabs you by the throat and will leave you cheering - quietly of course. No shouting in a chess match.

    Mar 28, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • There's a general spirit of triumph and perseverance to "Brooklyn Castle" that's inevitably uplifting.

    Mar 1, 2013 | Rating: B | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic
  • "Brooklyn Castle" easily checkmates your inner cynic.

    Nov 15, 2012 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Katie Dellamaggiore's lively and affecting documentary introduces us to a cast of characters that's very winning (in both senses of the word).

    Nov 15, 2012 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • It's not To Sir, With Love: It's fierce ambition, the channeling of emotion, and hours of drilling.

    Nov 14, 2012

Audience Reviews for Brooklyn Castle

  • Jan 04, 2015
    One one level, "Brooklyn Castle" is an occasionally suspenseful documentary that also makes unfortunate use of stop motion effects about the dynasty of championships won by the chess teams at I.S. 318 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. That winning streak continues even though players like Rochelle graduate and seek to continue their study of the game at a higher level, because new players like Justus enter the school, even though he has to travel all the way from the Bronx on a daily basis. On a much wider and more important level, "Brooklyn Castle" makes a great case for why such extracurricular activities are important, and not just because they might keep kids off the street. What this extremely successful program also does is allow the students to travel outside New York City for tournaments, while chess exercises their brains and is an activity that prizes sportmanship.(I love the handshake before and after matches, by the way.) So while they think six moves ahead in the game, they also become prepared to do so in real life, as the documentary also provides insight into the structure of the New York City school system. All of which is threatened is by severe budget cuts after the 2008 recession. As one student says, the last thing that should be cut from any budget is education.
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Nov 09, 2012
    It's excellent. The critics are absolutely right about this movie. You do not need to know chess to enjoy it. If this movie won the best documentary Oscar this year, I would be very happy. I am afraid no one will see it, and that's a shame. These people, both students and teachers, are the kind of role models our country needs to see, and often. I hope this film makes us more likely to look at chess as part of a good education.
    Morris N Super Reviewer

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