Generally favorable reviews - based on 39 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 154 Ratings

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 39
  2. Negative: 0 out of 39
  1. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Apr 11, 2013
    Boseman is watchful, winning and confident, but never saintly. Yet he keeps Robinson’s moral spine aligned with his skill and self-respect, showing how he needed all of those to succeed.
  2. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Apr 10, 2013
    Helgeland works in what I think of as a conservative — or maybe it's just really, really basic — neoclassical Hollywood style, spelling everything out, letting the story unfold in a plainspoken and deliberate fashion, with a big, wide, open pictorial camera eye. It's like the latter-day Clint Eastwood style, applied to material that's as traditional as can be.
  3. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Apr 11, 2013
    Unfortunately, the generic bio-pic structure of 42 prevents it from ever becoming something great.
  4. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Apr 11, 2013
    Treats its now-mythic Brooklyn Dodger with respect, reverence and love. But who's in there, underneath the mythology?
  5. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Apr 12, 2013
    It takes a particularly ham-fisted filmmaker to transform a fascinating and historically significant story into something as formulaic as 42.
  6. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Apr 15, 2013
    Sixty-six years later, when a black man holds the Presidency, equality may still be, for some, unbearable, but Robinson abruptly moved America forward. 42, however limited at times, lays out the tortured early days of that advance with clarity and force.
  7. Reviewed by: Alan Scherstuhl
    Apr 9, 2013
    The movie sugars up Robinson's story, and like too many period pieces it summons some vague idea of a warmer, simpler past by bathing everything in thick amber light, as if each scene is one of those preserved mosquitoes that begat the monsters of Jurassic Park.

See all 39 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 45 out of 57
  2. Negative: 5 out of 57
  1. May 16, 2013
    The Bottom Line
    A too self-consciously inspiring rendition of Jackie Robinson's genuinely inspiring accomplishment of breaking baseball's
    color barrier.

    Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford provide engaging performances as Jackie Robinson and Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey in the Legendary/Warner Bros. drama about the man who broke MLB's color line. Pretty when it should be gritty and grandiosely noble instead of just telling it like it was, 42 needlessly trumps up but still can't entirely spoil one of the great American 20th century true-life stories, the breaking of major league baseball's color line by Jackie Robinson. Whether in the deep South or the streets of Brooklyn, life here looks spiffy and well-scrubbed enough to appear in a department store window, while the soaring musical accompaniment seems to be stamping all the protagonists' passports for immediate admission to that great ballpark in the sky. All the same, lead actors Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford cut through the artifice with engaging performances as Robinson and Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey, respectively, and audiences who don't know much about the first black man to play professional baseball will be suitably impressed. Hit-starved Warner Bros. should be able to stir moderately good attendance domestically, although foreign prospects, as always with baseball yarns, are slight. The key scene in 42, just as it was in the low-budget 1950 The Jackie Robinson Story, which starred the ballplayer himself, comes when Rickey, warning his prospect about the abuse that inevitably awaits him, demands to know if he's “got enough guts not to fight back” when provoked by other players or fans. Robinson was not the best player in the Negro Leagues, but he was reckoned to be the one who might best withstand the trial by fire posed by teammates who didn't want to play with him and a society that often wouldn't allow him to travel, eat or lodge with the rest of the team. Needing a manageable window through which to dramatize a sports breakthrough fraught with racial, social, political and attitudinal meaning, this pet project of writer-director Brian Helgeland and producer Thomas Tull zeroes in on the years 1945-47, concluding with Robinson's first year in the majors. Although there is quick mention of a sports career at UCLA (which, the film does not note, had the most integrated sports program of any school in the U.S. at the time) and a quick temper that earned him an Army court-martial, the 26-year-old member of the American Negro League Kansas City Monarchs seems like the picture of rectitude, a well-spoken young man with a lovely wife-to-be, Rachel (Nicole Beharie), and none of the wild traits of some of his teammates. As one of the last century's most inspiring and literally game-changing personal sagas, Jackie Robinson's life can hardly help but be stirring and will no doubt impress many younger viewers, some of whom may be completely unfamiliar with his story. It's just too bad that Helgeland can't go for broke and get his uniform as dirty as Jackie Robinson used to do.
  2. Apr 20, 2013
    I've been waiting anxiously to see this film. Very well made and acted. My only complaint, I would have liked to see a larger emphasis on the amazing baseball exploits of #42. As a latecomer to baseball fandom I recently invested the 1,140 minutes to watch Ken Burns masterpiece "Baseball". The theme of which is really the story of America as told through the prism of our national pastime. Unless you're an aging Baby Boomer you likely don't have any memory of the type of overt racism that tainted our country up through the 1960's. Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey are largely responsible for changing public attitudes that have brought us out of the dark days of Jim Crow. Maybe this film can usher in a fresh sentiment of tolerance between our increasingly divided country. Expand
  3. Jun 11, 2013
    I father, I Brooklyn Dodger them...I Jack/ I Rob/ I sin...Ah man, I'm Jackie Robinson...'cept when I run base, I dodge the pen!

    I think
    baseball is boring...and I loved 42! Expand
  4. Jul 6, 2013
    “42” is warm-hearted and a respectable film, but it doesn't enrich or heighten Jackie Robinson's legacy. Jackie Robinson is arguably the single most important sports figure of the 20th century. Robinson's story is historically extraordinary and utterly captivating. In sharing Robinson’s inspirational story, some risks could have been taken in the approach to film making as well. Regrettably, you can’t shake the feeling that writer/director Brian Helgeland is playing it safe, and not swinging for the fences.

    “42” tells the story of how Jackie Robinson broke the Major League color barrier in 1947, becoming the first black player to appear in a Major League baseball game since 1884. In 1946, Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) is a Negro League baseball player who never takes racism lying down. Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) is a Major League team executive with a bold idea. Rickey recruits Robinson to break the unspoken color line as the first modern African American Major League baseball player. As both anticipate, this proves a pivotal challenge for Robinson and his family as they endure unrelenting racist hostility on and off the field, from player and fan alike. As Jackie struggles against his nature to endure such abuse without complaint, he finds allies and hope where he least expects it.

    The performances are generally solid and highly believable. For his first major theatrical role, Chadwick Boseman turns in an impressive performance, and quite possibly the highlight of the film. While Robinson's story is worthy of the utmost respect and admiration, Helgeland plainly illustrates that in film making even a great man's life can get a bit bland. “42” effectively tells of Robinson's year in the minors and his first season with the Brooklyn Dodgers, while not doing a very good job of capturing Robinson's personality. He's portrayed more as a historical icon than a fully developed character. “42” feels like an overly sincere history lesson more so than a biography, but it's a history lesson of which we regularly need to be reminded.
  5. BKM
    Oct 9, 2013
    It's extremely difficult to put Jackie Robinson's legacy into its proper perspective and for the most part 42 doesn't really try. Instead it is content to be a glossy, feel good sports story. If you can accept that, you'll find the film to be a genuinely entertaining and well acted biopic that tells an important story albeit in a less than urgent manner. Expand
  6. Aug 31, 2013
    On this side of the Atlantic is not easy to get a feel for these movies, but it will be more drama than a sports movie about baseball. Not bad for one's leaving. Expand
  7. Jul 8, 2013
    generic racism is bad message is broadcast for over two hours.
    The story is filled with fairytale characters. Everyone is either racist or a
    black person lover. The rest of the character traits disappear into the abyss. Due to this the character interaction is wooden. The hero himself is uninteresting as everything is handed to him by his white boss making his struggle moot.
    Nothing good in this movie other than excellent cast but it fails to save this picture.

See all 57 User Reviews