'42' Blu-Ray Review: Jackie Robinson's Story Painted with Elegant Strokes

42 is a film about baseball and overcoming prejudice, and that's really it.

It’s a simply told film that wants to do little more than tell an inspirational story that celebrates individuals while also tugging at your heart strings, and you know what? There’s nothing wrong with any of that.


42, available July 16 on Blu-ray, may end up being a little too simply told and old fashioned for some, but director Brian Helgeland (A Knight’s Tale, Payback) knows how to best convey his tale. He also understands how to structure a good ol' time at the movies.

Chadwick Boseman stars as Jackie Robinson, and the legendary Harrison Ford is Branch Rickey, the general manager for the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1946, the two made history when Robinson was signed to the Dodgers, causing a large portion of the public to cry out in anger.

42 is a story about how two men dealt with a nation’s racial animus not by playing into their prejudices or fighting back in a physical fashion, but by playing baseball and playing it pretty damn well. 42 is definitely structured based off of films from the '60s or '70s which makes it rather enjoyable to watch. Helgeland lets his story unfold without pumping too much artificial action into it. The baseball scenes are fantastic and the story, though predictable, packs a lot of power.

The film is also enjoyable thanks to two great performances by Boseman and Ford. Ford is perfectly cast while the less familiar Boseman shines. There are even some stellar performances from minor players like Christopher Meloni as famed manager Leo Durocher. Everyone seems like they have room to breathe life into their roles here which makes the film all the more enjoyable. 

The Blu-ray features include a collection of short documentaries capturing what the real story of 42 was and what it was like to capture it on the big screen. It's interesting stuff due to the historical context. 42’s only faults lie in its lack of originality and its safe nature, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an enjoyable film that will make you laugh or even cry.

42 is a heartfelt drama for the whole family to see and cherish.


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