The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Warner - 2013
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 128 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English/French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie, Christopher Meloni, Andre Holland, Lucas Black, Hamish Linklater, Ryan Merriman
Written & Directed by: Brian Helgeland
Music by: Mark Isham
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: July 16, 2013
Hero is a word we hear often in sports, but heroism is not always about achievements on the field of play. “42” tells the story of two men – the great Jackie Robinson and legendary Brooklyn Dodgers GM Branch Rickey – whose brave stand against prejudice forever changed the world by changing the game of baseball.
In 1946, Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) put himself at the forefront of history when he signed Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) to the team, breaking Major League Baseball's infamous color line. But the deal also put both Robinson and Rickey in the firing line of the public, the press and even other players. Facing unabashed racism from every side, Robinson was forced to demonstrate tremendous courage and restraint by not reacting in kind, knowing that any incident could destroy his and Rickey's hopes. Instead, Number 42 let his talent on the field do the talking – ultimately winning over fans and his teammates, silencing his critics, and paving the way for others to follow.
I learned about Jackie Robinson and his 1947 breaking of the color barrier in professional baseball at an early age. As a baseball fan I read books about the subject and his courage, talent, sacrifice and contribution to professional sports in general intrigued me. I have been exposed to racial prejudice and can understand the feeling but I can’t imagine what it must have been like for Robinson. Branch Rickey understood not only that breaking the color barrier was important but also the importance of choosing the right individual to do so. Being familiar with the story of Jackie Robinson I looked forward to seeing this film and did so during its theatrical release.
The film covers the period just before Robinson’s signing and into his first season with the Brooklyn Dodgers. It’s not an especially intimate accounting but respectfully details the highlights, tribulations and guts of a man who earned the respect of his teammates and eventually the admiration of baseball fans. The script eschews an overtly depreciatory thematic tone in terms of the depiction of racial tensions but paints a vivid picture in support of the film’s elements. This is less of a documentary about Robinson’s life outside of baseball as it focuses more on what happened within a two year period which touches upon some of his personal life. I found that to be a little disappointing but understand that in truth the focus is about what brought him to April 15, 1947 and the importance of what followed.
I appreciated the development of Branch Rickey’s stout persona within the narrative’s construct and thoroughly enjoyed Harrison Ford’s portrayal. Chadwick Boseman’s evocative and stirring performance is equally worthy of note and coupled with Ford’s anchors a solid ensemble cast. As a fan of baseball, biopic stories and this particular subject I reveled in the film’s melodrama both on the field and off as well as seeing the recreation of the real people and events that inspired it. 42 is an inspirational film based on an inspirational and historical subject. It doesn’t quite penetrate as deeply as I’d hoped but it stands as an apt tribute to the man that pioneered the integration of professional sports in America.
The rating is for thematic elements and language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
42 comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Home Video featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 25 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.2 Mbps.
This is a terrific and faithful high definition transfer that sparkles on Blu-ray. Images are transparent with exquisite detail and a near infinite sense of depth. Fidelity is never in question regardless of the camera’s perspective. Colors are kept within the scope of the historical time frame which means lots of browns, grays, greens and blacks. There is a sepia toned aesthetic that permeates many sequences imparting a light monochromatic essence. Whites are snappy and crisp and grays are multi-staged and layered. Blacks are inky, dynamic and stable and contrast is bold and punchy without overdriving whites/grays and washing out detail. The use of green screens softens some of the background elements during wide angle pans but I never found it to be excessive or distracting. Overall I found the quality of the video to be high. Every scene isn’t always razor sharp but is pristinely rendered with plenty of subtle refinement that increases the perception of fine detail and depth/dimension. Coinciding with the visual style of the film fleshtones are a bit balmy but appear lifelike. This is a noticeably stylized and impressive high definition video presentation that looked great on my big screen.
The DTS-HD MA soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue, robust dynamics and a subtle, yet engaging surround sound mix. I was impressed with the implementation of both spacial dimension and discrete directional sounds associated with the sounds of the game that create an occasionally immersive listening environment. This works hand in hand with a punchy low end that supports Mark Isham’s rousing music while driving the film’s thematic tone. I found this to be an engaging audio presentation that complimented the video resulting in an involving and evocative viewing experience that integrated quite nicely with the source material.
- (HD) Stepping into history – 9 minute featurette
- (HD) Full-contact baseball – 10 minute featurette
- (HD) The legacy of number 42 – 9 minute featurette
- Bonus DVD
- Ultraviolet Digital Copy
42 tells the story of two men – the great Jackie Robinson and legendary Brooklyn Dodgers GM Branch Rickey – whose brave stand against prejudice forever changed the world by changing the game of baseball. I have seen it twice now and find it to be an inspirational and evocative film that stands as an apt tribute to the man that pioneered the integration of professional sports in America. 42 comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Home Video featuring faithful and reference quality high definition video, resplendent lossless sound quality, and a light but worthwhile supplemental package. I am pleased to add 42 to my video library and highly recommend you check it out on Blu-ray.
Here is the trailer:
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