Title – 42 (2013)
Director – Brian Helgeland (A Knight’s Tale)
Cast – Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie, Lucas Black, Alan Tudyk
Plot – 42 is set in 1946 when baseball was a white man’s sport to the exclusion of all others. Black leagues player and ex-serviceman Jackie Robinson (Boseman) is recruited by Brooklyn Dodgers team executive Branch Rickey (Ford) as the first ever black man to play Major League Baseball. 42 documents Jackie’s first years in the game and the struggles he faced on a game to game basis to fight for his people and fight to play the game he loves.
“We had a victory of fascism in Germany. It’s time we had a victory over racism at home.”
Review by Eddie on 28/08/2013
Brian Helgeland’s 42 is a very safe bet sport movie. 42 is a tale of against the odds achievements that has been seen countless times before and countless times better yet is still sure to appeal to the target audience. At the core of 42 is a story well worth telling, an inspiring true life tale that is hard not be moved by and in the end a tale that deserved to be told in a much different and better way than this movie.
First off the bat it must be said that 42 is a handsomely made film and a well-cast one, in particular in regards to relative new comer Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson who does a fine job of portraying the man and not being a mere caricature of him. That Helgeland had such a winning main focus makes it a shame that he doesn’t do a better job of making the audience really understand Jackie as a person or delve into the depths of the man and his relationships. It may sound strange for me to say this for a baseball movie but 42 just spends way to much time out on the field.
Recent baseball success Moneyball was such a fantastic sporting movie because it wasn’t afraid to have more time behind the scenes than recreating the game out on the park. 42 fells like a mere collage of game after game of baseball all the while forgoing any flashbacks to Jackie’s life and foregoing any real emotional arc off field with either his wife Rachel or even really his relationship with fellow teammates or members of the organisation including underused Lucas Black and hamming it Harrison Ford. It feels like 42 was to scared to be anything more than a safe by the numbers biopic using cued musically numbers to pull emotions, like 42 is merely aiming for TV movie of the week status not hitting the movie ball out of the park.
42 could have been a home run. All it needed was some brave strokes or some perhaps less Hallmark orientated moments to delve into the grittier reality of the real life hero. If you love baseball or sporting movies in general it’s more than likely you’ll enjoy 42 and it’s a movie that would be truly hard to hate it’s just also a hard one to love and one suspects that in a year or twos time it will be merely another sporting movie as films like Friday Night Lights, Remember the Titans and the aforementioned Moneyball continue to be re-watched by sporting aficionados.
2 broken bats out of 5