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42 (Blu-ray Review)

11 Jul, 2013 By: John Latchem

Street Date 7/16/13
Box Office $94.63 million
$28.98 DVD, $35.99
Rated ‘PG-13’ for thematic elements including language.
Stars Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie, Christopher Meloni, Andre Holland, Lucas Black, Hamish Linklater, Alan Tudyk.

Maybe it’s just the Dodgers fan in me coming through, but I couldn’t stop smiling throughout 42. In its depiction of how Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947, the film is like seeing all those stories famed Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully told over the years come to life. That’s another way of saying that anyone with a passable knowledge of baseball history will recognize what’s coming in 42, though even the casual viewer can find something inspiring about Robinson’s efforts to defy the prejudices and hardships that confronted him.

The film itself is a well-polished production that covers the basics of Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) joining the Brooklyn Dodgers and his first year in the Major Leagues. He was recruited for the task by Dodgers GM Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford barking dialogue with a gruff accent) not only for his talent, but because he had the temperament not to fight back when opposing crowds and players did whatever they could to drive him from the league. It’s certainly a high point to see Dodgers shortstop Pee Wee Reese (Lucas Black), himself a future Hall of Famer, embrace Robinson on the field just to let everyone know that the boy can play and is here to stay.

Writer-director Brian Helgeland has embellished a few details, but for the most part has faithfully re-created the historical period. It’s a lot of fun to see some of the old-school baseball parks brought back to life through the magic of CGI, a process detailed in one of the three featurettes included with the Blu-ray.

Of the other two featurettes, one deals with training the actors to bring authenticity to the baseball scenes, and the other is about Robinson’s legacy. Each is about 10 minutes long.

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