This has been a film I’ve been wanting to watch for a while now, but since there’s a stupidly annoying and unnecessary long gaps between for film released for the USA and the UK I’ve had to wait until September to finally check this film out. So after the wait does 42 deliver the goods on being a good biographical sports film? Well read on and find out!
So the story in this film goes like this:
“In 1946, Jackie Robinson is a Negro League baseball player who never takes racism lying down. Branch Rickey is a Major League team executive with a bold idea. To that end, Rickey recruits Robinson to break the unspoken colour line as the first modern African American Major League player. As both anticipate, this proves a major challenge for Robinson and his family as they endure unrelenting racist hostility on and off the field, from player and fan alike. As Jackie struggles against his nature to endure such abuse without complaint, he finds allies and hope where he least expects it.”
I feel like the story was good and it had some great source material to draw from, but I don’t think it was fully utilized. The whole “first black baseball player” was a big deal and while the film done its best to illustrate most of the struggles and change that came with that revelation it seems like a lot of things were breezed over, in fact a lot of things feel like they’re happening without having enough time to digest it. Other than that, the story works when it matters like when it comes to the onslaught of racism for Jackie Robinson, it was kind of uncomfortable to watch (being a black guy myself) but then that’s the way it has to be, can’t be diluting history now.
As for the cast they were people that kept this film for being just another average biopic as their performances are good, heartfelt and believable for the most part. Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson at first I didn’t like him, he seemed like a bit of a grouch and kind of antisocial, but then as his character progresses and goes through his journey you learn why he is as he is and we get to see the better sides of his personalities. Boseman pours his heart into the role and his acting is great especially in scenes involving aggression and being smug. Then there’s Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey, once you get past his extremely gruff voice you can get to really enjoy the character. Rickey is clearly a man who wants the best for Robinson and has a plan for putting a black man in the world of baseball. Ford seems a hell of a lot older than I believe him to be at this point in real life, but I guess that adds to his character and makes him cool to watch,
The rest of the cast does well but don’t do much to stand out, these people include: Andre Holland as Wendell Smith, Christopher Meloni as Leo Durocher, John C. McGinley as Red Barber and Lucas Black as Pee Wee Reese to name a few.
The only other person that stuck out to me was Alan Tudyk as Ben Chapman. I’m a fan of Tudyk from his collaborations with Joss Whedon and I was looking forward to seeing what kind of role he had in the film, but my god he was a monster in this film. Tudyk hasn’t played such a villainous role since he was Alpha in Dollhouse. But anyways in this film his this proper racist guy who really makes trouble for Robinson and Tudyk plays the role extremely well.
In conclusion 42 is a good film, the performances are the strongest aspect of the film and while the film gets its story across about the first black baseball player, it is a little by the numbers and not overly unique but still worth a watch.
Rating: 7/10 (A decent biopic, if a bit too safe and generic at times)
So what did you think of 42? And if so did you think that the film played it a bit too safe and wasn’t epic enough or was the film’s content enough for you? Whatever your thoughts are drop them in the comments below and I’ll see ya on the next film review. 🙂