DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

42: The Jackie Robinson Story, Blu-ray+DVD+UV Digital Copy (2013)

Both baseball history and its breaking of the color barrier in this Hollywood feature.

Published on August 16, 2013

42: The Jackie Robinson Story, Blu-ray+DVD+UV Digital Copy (2013)

Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie, Christopher Meloni
Director: Brian Helgeland
Studio: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment [7/16/13] 
Video: 2.40:1 anamorphic/enhanced 1080p HD
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; French, Spanish, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Extras: Three featurettes (“Behind the Scenes: Stepping into History”, “Behind the Scenes: Full-Contact Baseball” and “The Legacy of the Number 42”); “Pacific Rim” trailer; DVD copy; UltraViolet digital copy
Length: 128 minutes
Movie Rating: ****    Video: *****    Audio: ****

42: The Jackie Robinson Story is the uplifting tale of how the color barrier was broken in major league baseball.  In 1946, looking to simultaneously improve his team’s talent and take a stand against the unspoken whites-only rule of professional baseball, Brooklyn Dodgers’ team owner Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) signed Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) to the team.  Rickey knew that it would take a special player, both on and off of the field, to succeed in such a harsh and bright public spotlight, and he believed that he found that player in Robinson.

Starting with his time in the minor leagues and continuing through his call-up to the majors, Robinson faced racism from fans, coaches, opposing players and even fellow teammates.  Summoning tremendous courage not to fight back, Robinson let his talent on the field do the talking, eventually winning over fans, teammates and critics.  Both Robinson and Rickey’s determination greatly aided in the country’s desegregation efforts at the time and forever changed the world of baseball.  Being as though I am a big sports fan, I really liked this movie, especially its baseball aspects.  42: The Jackie Robinson Story is more of a human interest story than a baseball movie, so it can be enjoyed by a much larger audience than just baseball fans.  With its inspiring storyline, plus great audio and visual presentation, this Blu-ray release is highly recommended.  (An interesting side-note, during the spring training trip to Florida with his minor league team, Robinson stayed as a houseguest in the City of Sanford.  He was quickly run out of town though by a few white men.  This is the same City of Sanford that was in the national news recently for the racially-charged Zimmerman-Martin trial.

The overall high-definition video quality of this Blu-ray is excellent.  Images are crisp and demonstrate fine detail.  Black levels are consistently dark throughout the movie.  Colors are accurate, and at times vibrant, with nicely-saturated hues.  Picture defect mastering is solid with no major flaws or compression artifacts.  The overall audio quality is very good with the English DTS HD-MA 5.1 track.  The soundtrack actively incorporates all of the discrete channels into its mix.  Dialogue is clean and natural-sounding.  The surround channels are moderately utilized for ambient sound effects and music score, plus include a few split rear effects and directional pans.  The low frequency effects channel is powerful but controlled when utilized.

—Calvin Harding Jr.

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