42 [Blu-Ray] Brian Helgeland

42 [Blu-Ray] Brian Helgeland
Jackie Robinson was a man of such class and restraint that, were he alive to see 42 (the story of how he broke the color barrier in professional baseball), he would likely smile and praise its authenticity while knowing it couldn't possibly capture the full extent and veracity of the opposition he faced. That doesn't mean it's not a valiant effort or even one without its merits, only that it's packaged Robinson's unimaginable trials and tribulations into a family-friendly crowd-pleaser that merely scratches the surface of his accomplishments. Convinced that a baseball player's talents aren't dependent on the color of his skin, Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) makes the decision in 1945 to pluck Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) from the Negro League. Traveling with new wife Rachel (Nicole Beharie) to spring training in Florida, Jackie befriends a writer (Andre Holland) who takes a keen interest in his story. Though Rickey attempts to make Jackie's integration as seamless as possible, it's fraught with blind racism at every turn. Yet throughout his ascension from the minor league affiliate in Montreal to the big leagues in Brooklyn, Jackie finds a way to win over teammates and fans by merely focusing on playing the game he loves. Saddled with a script that sometimes mistakes biographical details for character traits (Jackie is a father!), Boseman exudes charisma and stoic determination in bringing the legend to life. Meanwhile, Ford shows depths he's rarely asked to plumb in embodying the mercurial Rickey, adopting the raspy growl of a bear, but unafraid to show a soft underbelly when the time calls for it. An effective scene in which a rival coach (Alan Tudyk) pushes Jackie's buttons to his breaking point only hints at what unrelenting prejudices he must have encountered. A few short documentaries make up the entirety of the supplemental material, consisting of the usual empty hyperbole that often plagues these kinds of efforts. More fascinating is one that details the intensive training that went into transforming the actors, including even the bit players, into something resembling ballplayers. Also included in this illuminating short is a look at how the use of some gigantic green screens helped in the re-creation of Ebbets Field and other stadiums of the era. Capping off the extras is an examination of Robinson's legacy, with the highlight being former teammate Ralph Branca sharing memorable anecdotes and the low point MLB commissioner Bud Selig discussing the integrity of a game he's helped tarnish. (Warner)