Review by: Jonathan Godfrey for Mr. Will Wong
This could have been a Movie that simply patted Americans on the back; subsidized White Guilt and paid back the interest on reparation. Some have surmised that Hollywood has been keen as of late on doing exactly that. What with Lincoln and Django Unchained barely out of theaters. They’re right of course, Tinseltown has been eager to broadcast the Black & White issue in Technicolor. However, all of these Films have been about more than just Race Politics, and 42 is no different. The Story of Jackie Robinson is also about the Man, and the only thing more American than prejudice, baseball.
This fully franchised Film resurrects the bulldozed Ebbet’s Field. Branch Rickie would have been proud. Not only to see the sacred soil as seraphic as ever, but also to see the flesh they fashion him in, (i.e. Harrison Ford). The Oldtimer does the late-great GM more than justice; he’s earned himself a nod for Oscar Gold. That said his Supporting Role is not the only one worth mentioning. John C. McGinley brings life into the lungs of Play-by-Play King, Red Barber. And Lucas Black steals a scene or two as hall-of-famer Pee Wee Reese. Lastly, Alan Tudyk manages to bring his penchant for comedy to the cruelest character of the lot (Ben Chapman). All in all the Cast is outstanding, as is the Script by Writer/Director Brian Helgeland, who has been mighty with the pen for quite some time now, but not since 2001’s A Knight’s Tale has he been considered an equally-capable Director. Truth be told, he is.
And let’s not forget the lead, Chadwick Boseman in the Starring Role as Jackie Robinson. Though the World at large is unfamiliar with the young Thespian they won’t be for long. Chadwick owns every frame he fills. His charm is as evident as his anger, and his physicality is fitting for the Role. From sliding, to catching, charging the mound and swinging the lumber he is convincing in the utmost. Suffice it to say he did not take this opportunity lightly. Like Atlas, he carries the weight of the World well.
In a word, 42 is excellent. It captures an eventful Epoch in such a spherical manner. Meaning it grants it depth and shape. Thus, the entire Cast and Crew deserve the applause I heard following my Screening. Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. have another Hit on their hands. Kudos for honoring a Titan, a Team, and a Pastime more American than Apple Pie.
Warner Bros. releases 42 in theatres Friday, April 12, 2013.