Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Critic’s Corner: ‘42’ Hits a Homerun

    Courtesy of Legendary Pictures

    If I’ve ever claimed that I’m not particularly interested in sports, or that I don’t find them exciting, I take it back. I take it all back.

    “42” is a sports film written and directed by Brian Helgeland about Jackie Robinson, the first notable African-American player in American Major League Baseball.

    The film is set in 1947 and begins with the Dodgers’ general manager Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) telling his staff that he plans to add an African-American player to the team. Rickey is met with objections, but his mind is made up. This ballplayer turns out to be Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman). When Rickey offers Robinson a spot on the team, Robinson is shocked and happy, but both men know that criticism and tough times lie ahead of them, as the 1940s were a time filled with racial tension. The rest of the film focused on Robinson’s first season with the Dodgers.

    “42” is an inspiring and respectful tribute to Robinson and the challenges he faced—Robinson broke racial barriers in baseball, but also helped push American society toward greater racial equality and acceptance.

    There were heavy scenes throughout the film and some made you really feel uncomfortable because they were filled with so much tension. In one such scene, Philadelphia Phillies manager Ben Chapman (Alan Tudyk) taunts Robinson during their game when he is up to bat. These challenging scenes are broken up by lighter sequences that either make you laugh or warm your heart.

    The cinematography also enhanced the emotion of the film—happier, triumphant scenes had a softer focus that contrasted the grittier shots of the serious scenes.

    What makes this film really shine is the characters. Boseman played Robinson well, giving the audience a good sense of what it was like to walk around in his shoes. Other strong characters include Robinson’s wife Rachel Robinson (Nicole Beharie), friend and sportswriter Wendell Smith (Andre Holland), the grandfatherly but tough Rickey and some of Robinson’s teammates. Each actor made their character come to life and I admired their strength and bravery. It’s impossible not to cheer for the spirited Robinson—when his teammates yell at the other players in defense of Robinson, I wanted to go back in time and yell at those jerks too—but even the bad guys played bad well.

    The director’s attention to detail should also be noted. There are wonderful and funny surprises right before the credits roll, as the audience finds out what happens to some of the main characters in the film and who the little boy who admired Robinson throughout the film turned out to be.

    The only complaint I have of the film is that the final scene is too drawn out. During this scene, Robinson hits the ball out of the park and the hit takes him to the World Series. As he runs the bases, things go in slow motion as the film cuts between Robinson running to home base and Robinson at home, running to his wife. The loud triumphant music plays louder and louder as he nears both home base and his wife. Even though I felt like this dramatic sequence was a little too long, I think the film still gets away with it.

    “42” hit a home run and exceeded my expectations. I walked out of the theater uplifted and the audience kept applauding long after the credits started rolling.

    Bianca may be reached at [email protected]

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    Bianca Sewake, Author

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