24 jul. 2013

My Review: 42 (8/10)

"Maybe tomorrow, we'll all wear 42, so nobody could tell us apart."

42 is a wonderful and inspiring sports movie based on the life of Jackie Robinson, the first colored baseball player to make it to the Major Leagues. It is really an inspirational film and a great story despite the fact that it follows pretty much the same cliches and formulas that most sport movies follow. It plays itself pretty safe but thanks to some great lead performances and an emotional story the film managed to draw me in, and I was emotionally involved from the very beginning. 42 kind of follows the same formula that Invictus and Remember the Titans did mixing sports with racism, and they are all based on true stories which remind us of the importance that sports have in society and how they can help break barriers. 42 was directed by Academy Award winner Brian Helgeland who adapted the screenplay for LA Confidential and Mystic River. Helgeland has proved to be a better screenwriter than a director, but I think he did a great job with this movie and has seemed to mature as a director. He also wrote the screenplay for this inspiring film. Despite not being a baseball fan, I do tend to love sports and really appreciated learning more about the life of this great baseball player. It is not as great as Moneyball, but it is still a wonderful movie.

42 takes place shortly after the Second World War as the troops are heading back home and things begin settling down. The athletes are back and all eyes are on the new baseball season that's about to start. Despite criticizing the German foreign government, racism is still very much a part of American life as colored people are forced to be segregated. There are only white players in the Major Leagues and the African Americans are forced to play on a separate Negro League. The Brooklyn Dodgers team executive, Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), decides its time to shake things up a little and decides to contract Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman), the first African American to sign for the Major Leagues. It won't be easy for Jackie or Rickey as they both have to face opposition and threats from the racist society. Rickey warns Jackie about having to endure the abuse without complaining since the commissioners will be looking for any minor fault as an excuse to expel him from the majors. Jackie finds the fortitude in his wife Rachel (Nicole Beharie) and the rest of the African American community who have their eyes on him. 

Harrison Ford gives the best performance of the film, and probably his best performance in the last decade or two. He is great in this movie and fit the role perfectly. Boseman also played Jackie Robinson very well showing the internal conflict he was going through as he tried to keep calm despite all the abuse he was receiving. It was a quiet performance and he was probably out shined by Harrison Ford, but he was still great. Robinson's story is such an extraordinary one that it turns this ordinary film into a much greater one. Despite following pretty much all the general sport genre conventions and cliches it still manages to draw the viewer in because of the great story. Robinson's life was worth telling and that is what makes this film special. There is much more in stake here than simply a game, and once again we see how sports influenced the cultural views of the time. This was a very emotional and inspirational sports drama with some thrilling moments. It's worth your time and money.


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