07.26.2013

“42” is a 10 – see it now on DVD Featured

by Contributing Writer Michael Coleman
Follow Michael on Twitter @ColemanMichaelP

The new Jackie Robinson biopic “42”’s tagline is “In a game divided by color, he made us see greatness.”  The same could be said of this excellent feature film, newly released on Blu Ray and DVD.  The movie opened at #1 at the box office earlier this year, and had the largest opening ever for a baseball movie. Written and directed by Brian Helgeland, “42” brilliantly tells the story of Robinson’s 1947 season with the Brooklyn Dodgers.  In joining the Dodgers, Robinson became the first major league baseball player since 1889.

The film stars relative newcomer Chadwick Boseman, who bares a striking physical resemblance to Robinson and brings a quiet dignity to the role that the baseball legend carried as well.  One of the films most powerful scenes, in which Robinson is subjected to repeated racial epithets while on the plate, and his subsequent reaction to them, should earn Boseman an Oscar nomination.

Boseman’s chemistry with co-star Nicole Beharie, who delivers a star turn as Robinson’s wife Rachel Isum, is excellent.  Beharie’s depiction of Mrs. Robinson’s support of her husband through the incredibly turbulent baseball season illustrates the phrase “Behind every good man is a good woman.”

“42” also stars Harrison Ford, whose prosthetics and makeup leave him almost unrecognizable as legendary Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey.  Ford’s stoic performance is also Oscar worthy.  Rickey’s pioneering decision to hire Robinson integrated major league baseball and, by changing the country’s then-preeminent sport, had a ripple effect throughout the sports world that cannot be denied.     However, I struggled with Branch’s character overshadowing Robinson’s in some scenes, including the aforementioned one which was manufactured for dramatic effect.  In some scenes, “42” becomes almost as much of a tribute to Branch Rickey as to Robinson.

That said, the film does an excellent job of highlighting a time in our history when African American baseball athletes were relegated to the Negro Leagues and Robinson’s successful efforts to change that.  “42” is definitely a film worth seeing.