Director: Brian Helgeland
Written by: Brian Helgeland (screenplay)
Starring: Chadwick Boseman | Harrison Ford | Nicole Beharie
Genre: Biography | Drama | Sport
Synopsis: The life story of Jackie Robinson and his history-making signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers under the guidance of team executive Branch Rickey.
If there is one sport I love, it’s baseball. I could read baseball articles for hours and never get bored. The reason I love baseball is because it is more than a sport, it’s a game that gave people hope while the world was at war, a game that changed our society, and a game that is still known as America’s favorite past time, regardless of its popularity. While there were some areas of this film that I felt could be improved, I felt that 42 captured the essence of baseball and why it means so much to America.
The film starts off very fast paced. It rushes through a quick history lesson of baseball and it’s relationship to the war then moves to the civil rights, discussing the existence of segregation. The pace of the informative overview was necessary to bring the audience up to speed but the film remained at that pace until about the middle of the film which affected the acting and dialogue in the film. The characters moved from topic to topic so quickly that it made the sincerity of the scene dwindle away and expose some poorly written dialogue which may have been the cause for a bit of “over-acting.” It almost seemed as though the filmmakers were aware of this lack of sincerity as they forcefully injected a familiar score into almost every emotional scene, in an attempt to alert the audience to start feeling something based on the music. As a viewer this made me feel as though the film was being condescending by not trusting me to become emotionally involved on my own. As I began to give up hope on the film, it suddenly started to mesh together towards the middle of the film. The dialogue improved and the pace became steady which allowed me to finally become emotionally involved in the film. The beginning of the film was vindicated thanks to a more steady growth of character development and an exciting and stunning depiction of the game of baseball. While I felt the character development, acting, and dialogue were plummeting in the beginning, it was all forgotten by the end of the film and I left pleased.
My favorite part of the film was the depiction of the game and the politics that went with it regarding Jackie Robinson joining the league. Chadwick Boseman gave a great performance showing Robinson’s struggles on and off the field. I was able to connect with the character and feel the struggle, pain, and triumph all because of Boseman’s portrayal. Harrison Ford gave a good performance but his character was very one dimensional in my eyes and it may be the way that Ford portrayed the character. Branch Rickey seemed to always be in a stagnant state, never quite showing strong feelings towards any particular moment. Whether it be the nature of the character himself or Ford’s performance, I would say that overall his performance was good but not great. Both characters meshed well together and played their respective parts in highlighting the reality of the game during the period.
The incredible camera shots in this film also had a big part in developing the film in addition to the character development. The shots of Robinson while playing depicted both his physical pain and his triumph. There were moments in the film where the camera would get close enough to Robinson to show his focus and then pan out far enough giving him a more heroic persona as the vast nature of the feat he just accomplished was properly shown. I wish they had the ability to film actual baseball games like they did in this film, because they captured every aspect from the pitch to the swing followed by the reactions of the players.
Although this film started in a way that I did not like, I left the theater enjoying the film and left emotionally attached to the story. It was an inspirational film that tried too hard in the beginning but definitely made up for it by the end.
42 – 7.0 out of 10.
A shaky beginning cleaned up with a great ending…