He's one of the most iconic figures in all of baseball. It's one of the most important moments in Civil Rights. It's one legendary story and now Jackie Robinson story is a featured film in "42". The film stars Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson and Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey. Is this biopic a grand slam or is it a strike three for this film?
Synopsis - The life story of Jackie Robinson and his history-making signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers under the guidance of team executive Branch Rickey.
Story - Hollywood is taking a different route when it comes to biopics these days. Gone are the three hour to four hour films that depicts the subject of the story from birth to death, or to a certain point of their lives. Now we focus on one key time period or element of the person. In "42"the film focus of Jackie Robinson's early beginnings in baseball, from his move from the negro leagues, to the Brooklyn Dodgers. The story does a great job on focusing on the impact Jackie Robinson made in the league at the time. It was a time of segregation and blacks didn't have equal rights as whites. Everything was separate from shopping places, bathrooms, hotels and many more, even sports had it's own divisions from the negro leagues and the major leagues. Enter Branch Rickey the executive of the Brooklyn Dodgers who wants to shake things up a little, by including a black player in the national league. Of course bringing Robinson into the majors will not be taken lightly by the league, players and parts of America in general. The film does a great job on showing the adversity and pressure that Robinson had to endure. However I would say the film took his adversity in the lightest of tones. The most brutal you will see is Robinson being insulted by Ben Chapman manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, and getting beamed with a baseball. The movie doesn't get too intense with the racism, instead it focuses on the impact Robinson made in the game and the community in general. This works because the film can be seen by all ages, it's not too intense for the kids to get a history lesson, and it's not too intense to make you feel really uneasy. The film does suffer a little bit of under develop characters like Robinson's wife, who plays a key role in his life, but yet you don't really know much about her. She is just there to be the moral compass and keep him from losing it. Overall the story nails it out of the park for what it is going for and it does the great legend justice.
Acting - The acting is great from everyone in the entire cast. Chadwick Boseman gives a breakout performance nailing Robinson down. Chadwick nails the mannerism and personality of Robinson on and off the field. He has wit, charm and even some funny moments that does justice to Jackie Robinson. The show stealer however will be Harrison Ford who is at his best in years as Branch Rickey. There are times you forget that it's Harrison Ford on screen and only see Branch Rickey. Ford is phenomenal, he's inspirational, witty and truly shows that he can still pull out an award winning performance. Another must watch performance is Alan Tudky as Ben Chapman. He's only in a couple of scenes and he delivers a performance that makes you really makes you cheer for Jackie. He plays the antagonist so well that you forget that Alan Tudky is such a likable guy. Overall the acting is worthy of praise and hopefully won't be forgotten when next year's Oscars comes.
Music & Film-Making - The music is your standard inspirational score that you would see in a biopic. It pulls at your emotions at the right time to get you invested more into the story. The score is nothing special and there really wasn't much stand out tracks, it's your basic generic biopic inspirational score. The film however is directed greatly by Brian Helgeland who serves as writer and director. He made sure to stay true the 1940's era with vehicles, music and location. There film looks beautiful and true to the time frame and Helgeland did a great job showcasing it.
Final Thoughts - "42" is one of the best movies so far in 2013. It has charm, inspirational tones and tells the story of one of the greatest iconic figures in baseball, it does tone down on the racism that Jackie Robinson really faced, but it shows enough for you to understand the pressure and adversity he had to endure. The film has amazing performances which is sure to earn some nominations during award season. Overall this movie has is a home run and does the legend justice.