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Monday, November 4, 2013

42 (Jackie Robinson) Review

Thoughts: 42 is the story of Jackie Robinson, the man who broke the color barrier in baseball, and his actions would eventually lead to it being broken in all major sports. Unlike most biopics, 42 fortunately does not start from the beginning of Jackie's life. It instead starts right before he is signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers, and thus focuses on the best part of his career: when he breaks the color barrier. As I have stated several times, I love baseball and the history of baseball, however baseball movies have generally disappointed me because the baseball aspect is often poorly portrayed. However, 42 is the first baseball to actually get it right, which is one of the many reasons why 42 is such a great film.

Directed by: Brian Helgeland
Genre: Baseball, Drama, Biopic,
Release Date: April 12, 2013
Running Time: 128 minutes
MMPA rating: PG-13

The Good: Harrison Ford's Oscar worthy performance, Perfectly portrays the baseball aspect, Looks 100% authentic, Boseman is perfectly case, Superb cinematography, Mostly historically accurate, All-around brilliant performances, Surprisingly humorous, Never a dull moment, Doesn't force the social issues, Likeable characters,

The Bad: Clich├ęd kid watching the game,




Plot: The following plot summary is copied from Wikipedia.com.
The film tells the story of Jackie Robinson and, under the guidance of team executive Branch Rickey, Robinson's signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers to become the first African-American player to break the baseball color barrier. The story focuses mostly on the 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers season and somewhat on Robinson's 1946 season with the Montreal Royals.
Watch the movie to see what happens next.

Plot: 8.9/10- Director and writer Brian Helgeland did an excellent job with the film in nearly every aspect. Jackie Robinson's story is told very well with surprising amount of historical accuracy, although there are a few scenes in particular that are fiction. Robinson's story is one that needed to be told and it probably could not have been told any better. Although the film does have very occasional corny moments, the story is told realistically and never "sugar coats" any of the facts. Also the pacing of 42 is spot on, it never feels overly long during any parts of the film.
Some movies that are about racism really tried to force the issue of racism over the actual story of the film and often lose the impact of the point trying to be made, however 42 used the real historical facts and story to make its point, which is why 42 was effective. While some may say the story is predictable, it is based on history so that should not really be considered an issue.
There is the one obligatory annoying kid that has a one or two painfully corny moments, fortunately however, it is limited and the only real negative of the film.
The end was corny because it kind of copied "The Natural" with its slow motion trot around the bases and that the ending was not based on historical fact, or that is why I have read.

Action: N/A- Although not "action," it important to mention the baseball scenes that were filmed. This is the first time that I can truly say that a movie got the baseball part right. The direction of those scenes where spot on. Each scene was framed well, thus making the game of baseball as exciting as the real thing. All too often in baseball movies, the baseball aspect is lacking.

Acting: 9.4/10- Harrison Ford killed it as Branch Rickey; someone get this man an Oscar (or at least a nomination)! Ford owned the role, he not only looked the part, but played it perfectly; his best performance in years. Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson also owned his role, and he too looked like his real life counterpart. Boseman portrayed Robinson's struggle to "have the guts to not fight back" excellently. All of the other actors in the film gave top notch performances, there was not a weak performance in the film, other than that one annoying kid.
How could Alan Tudyk go from one of the most likeable characters ever as Wash from Firefly, to one of the most despicable dirt bags in recent memory!? Tudyk played the Philadelphia Phillies manager Ben Chapman, who tried to provoke Jackie, and he plays entirely against type in his role, albeit a relatively minor one.

Special effects: N/A-

Soundtrack: 6.2/10- Although the score was the typical American sports movie fare, it fit the tone of the film well.

Comedy: 7.8/10- 42 had a surprising amount humor, all of which was used well.


Overall: 8.3/10: 42 is the baseball movie that baseball fans have been waiting for and it is one the best dramas in recent memory, an absolute must watch for baseball fans; it gets almost everything right.

Closing comments: It is difficult to determine what non-fans of baseball will think of the film because I love baseball and therefore I am bias, however fans of period drama films would most likely enjoy it as well as fans of great movies in general.

Recommended for: Baseball fans, Drama fans, Biopic fans,

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11 comments:

  1. Glad to hear it was a good film and that it did everything(mostly) right :) That's really cool that it had Harrison Ford in it as well as Alan Tudyk(and that the latter played a total opposite to his character on Firefly; glad to see he hasn't been type casted). I'm not usually a sports movie watcher, but this one sounds like a good one :)

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    1. Even though you are not a sports fan, I do believe that you would enjoy the movie. :) Tudyk really surprised me because he was so different than his previous roles, and you really hate the character.

      -James

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  2. I really am not a baseball fan... at all. but I really enjoyed this movie. It was very well done in my opinion, and casted perfectly.

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    1. I am glad that you enjoyed the movie even though you are not a baseball fan. It is good to know.

      -James

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  3. I found it to be a tad too cheesy/cliche for my taste and I thought the scope of the movie was too limited to a small portion of Robinson's life.

    But still a really enjoyable movie overall. For me, Remember the Titans will probably always be the best sports-race-history movie there is.

    Great review, James!

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    1. You know, I actually had a opposite reaction about the cheesy/cliche part since I thought the movie avoided it, and the fact that it did focus on such a small part of his life.

      I think I can Remember watching Remember the Titans a while, although I suppose I can't "Remember the Titans."

      -James

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    2. "Remember the Titans" is great! A bit maudlin, though.

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  4. I really, really liked this movie. As you know. And I completely agree -- Harrison Ford gave an Oscar-worthy performance.

    But yeah... the little kids were unneeded.

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    1. Good to see that we are on the same page on this. Ford's performance just blew me away, he was so good!

      -James

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  5. Love sports but have never been a fan of sports films. I am curious about this because of mostly good reviews, sounds solid enough to give it a watch.

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    1. Same here, sports movies have rarely impressed me, even though I love sports, but I have to say that 42 did justice to the true story. I would definitely consider the movie a strong rent.

      -James

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