42 – 4/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

4242 – 4/5- Biopics; you either love them or hate them.  Very relative to real life or some situation in life, these films can either inspire or fall into the waste of cliché, apathetic or unappealing.  In general, biopics are one’s I don’t hold a special place for, but will occasional watch if it peaks my interest.  42 is one of those films that peaks my interest.  There are two reasons:

– Time period piece

– It’s about baseball

These two elements help me bring me in, and watch a great film.  For all it’s worth, as a true story of Jackie Robinson, 42 is a great story that can inspire people.

Premise: The film is about the life story of Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman), as you watch him make his history-making signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers; under the guidance of team executive Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford).

When it comes to the acting, there are two meaningful performances in this film.  The first is, of course, Jackie Robinson.  He is played by up and coming actor, Chadwick Boseman.  He gives a stellar performance in the role as the first blank man in baseball.  Through the times, the struggles and the sacrifices he makes on and off the field, you see very vividly through Boseman’s portrayal.  He gives you someone that is down to earth, authentic and believable during the times of Jim Crow Laws and segregation.  In this role, he shows us how great a baseball player Robinson was on the field, and a good family man off the field.  Through his interactions in his relationships with his teammates, wife, reporters and the owner, you feel the poignancy of these people’s in his lives, as if you are present, watching the drama unfolds.  The second performance that is excellent is brought in the owner’s role of Branch Rickey.  He is played by legendary actor, Harrison Ford.  In this role, he gives you an Oscar quality performance.  As a stern and witty owner, you watch as Ford dissects, interacts and commands through his line delivery, when he is on screen.  No matter whom he is talking or conversing with, you feel as if you’re watching Rickey’s bravado, as it will either strike you as intelligent or heartfelt.  You see his smarts for the game of baseball, as well as his charm as an owner and friend to Robinson.  The depth and complexion of breaking barriers as well as changing minds helps signify the subtlety and vigor of Ford’s performance.  Outside of these two great individuals, the rest of the film’s characters are pretty standard when it comes to a ‘baseball film’.  You have the typical baseball manager, supportive wife, disgruntled but respectful teammates, as well as the antagonist found in the racist and sometimes ignorant folk of the times.  Nothing here stands out, but they do enough to help emphasize the era of America, as well as the changes happening in baseball.

There isn’t much depth to the direction of this film.  What it does is takes a piece of Jackie Robinson’s life, and dissects it in Hollywood fashion.  In this film, it focuses on his rise through the minors and first year as a Brooklyn Dodger player.  In this, you get a glimpse into a ‘time period’ of America that was both still stern in its arrogance, and faulty towards acceptance.  In his journey to become just another player in baseball, instead of just a black man playing baseball, you see the cliché elements of racism, unawareness, and ambiguity when it comes to this time of America (1940s).  With so much at stake, you watch as Robinson faces all these furious tides with a ‘turn your cheek’ approach, as he faces the blindness with honor.  This themes are sometimes unnerving, as some ‘racial slurs’ spun around in the movie can keep you unhinged, but it helps you understand the strength of Robinson, as well as the courage to an embracing of change when coming to the terms of ‘desegregation’.  When the film hits its climax, you watch as it is portrayed in a miracle-esque kind of ending, but it stays true to both the era and the first year as Brooklyn Dodger for Jackie Robinson.  By the end, you’ll either feel inspired, relief or have a complete understanding of Robinson’s commitment and faith to being himself, among the unwanted.

The visuals are depicted as natural and vivid as can be.  With the creation of the ‘1940’s’, you get a glimpse at the world through its attire, vehicles, homes, cities, as well as the recreation of Ebbett Field in Brooklyn.  It isn’t something that will blow you away, but it does enough to capture your attention, and bring you into a world through a fantastical but historical appropriate.  The score is very subtle in the movie, but it helps add a layer of enjoyment, as it emphasizes the dramatic moments, as well as the passionate ones very well.

Overall, 42 is a very good biopic.  It does a good job in portraying Jackie Robinson’s journey into baseball, helping break a barrier that seemed unbreakable at the time.  The acting from both title roles was amazing, and the direction is linear but excellent.  With some clichéd elements in supporting cast, as well as typical elements of common ‘racial’ connotation of the time, you get a film that is believable but predictable.  I’d recommend this film for fans of baseball, biopics, or looking to see another aspect of the American pastime.

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