Movie Review: 42 [2013]

In 1946 there were 16 major league baseball teams, with total of 400 players. Everyone of 400 players were white. But when the opening day came in 1947, that number dropped to 399 and one man stood apart.

42 is a movie about that particular black man, who entered the league for the very first time, challenged everyone, including his teammates and won. Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) became the pioneer athlete to stand alongside the white sportsmen on the field when segregation & racial discrimination was a "rule" in United States. However, film does not actually follow the whole story of Jackie, it more tells a story of racial revolution in baseball, which escalated after one bold decision of Brooklyn Dodgers executive - Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford). Branch was the first manager to hire a black man, a talented black man who ran fast, who could catch any ball and who could bring hundreds of black spectators to the field. And since every of them, regardless their skin color paid money to see Robinson playing, this new transfer to the team could be successful.

Brian Helgeland wrote a pretty interesting and engaging script, with really good dialogues (well, he has a great experience of it from LA Confidential and Mystic River). Even though there is no much tension in the movie, it still makes you enjoy every minute of it. At first I was not comfortable with the idea of racial discrimination, because I've seen so many good movies on this topic, and it just makes me feel bored. Most of them look like each other much. I believe that any film that regards this topic, shall be very much emotional, which helps director to deliver a message successfully. The last film that affected on me, and for sure on every person, was The Help - a masterful presentation of historic segregation. But 42 does not arise rave emotions, it instead provokes great satisfaction. That is why 42 is an above average film.

Number 42 - Jackie Robinson
Picking totally unfamiliar actor, Chadwick Boseman, for lead role, which actually presents the whole idea of the movie, is a risky choice by director. But Jackie was exactly as it should be. Chad delivers a passionate, evolving character who struggles with his emotions and almost every person surrounding him. His convincing performance is really worth to call potentially one of the best performances this year.

And Harrison Ford, it's been years I've not seen him acting well. In fact, the portrait of Branch Rickey is one of the best performances he'd ever had. Even though Mr. Ford gets older, he can make Brooklyn Dodgers story unbelievably interesting.

As for the rest of cast, everyone is good. Maybe not the best actors you can imagine, but they make a good team and there is nothing we can reject about their performances.

All in all, 42 is a good movie to watch. It's an decent example of clever film making, but I still think that it does not have much Oscar chances, since this is not going to be the only "about black people" movie this year. Even more exciting The Butler premieres late this year, which seems to be more greater in every cinematic sense.

P.S. I've seen so many baseball films and still don't understand the rules! What a shame

2 comments:

  1. Good review. It's a tad by-the-numbers and obvious at points, but it's always entertaining and inspiring, especially when you take into consideration how good everyone here is.

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  2. Thanks Dan. This movie feels good :)

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