The Batter’s Eye: 42

42 (2013, directed by Brian Helgeland) feels like it was made more with “prestige” in mind than any interest in Jackie Robinson’s story. While The Jackie Robinson Story has its flaws, it at least let audiences get to know who Robinson was.

Chadwick Boseman is a standout as Robinson. He brings a lot of charm to a role that’s surprisingly not given a lot of depth. The movie offers no real insight into who Robinson was as a person. Yes, he’s good at baseball and loves his wife, Rachel (Nicole Beharie) but that’s about the extent of what we learn.

Instead, the movie centers Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford, in an overly big, cartoonist performance). Yes, I know that Rickey was an important figure in baseball and he was the one to be brave enough to break the color barrier, but it still feels odd to make him mostly the main focus here. Plus, with his exaggerated Southern accent and mannerisms, Ford feels like he’s in a different movie than Boseman’s grounded sweetness.

The racism that Robinson faced — while very real — comes across as over-the-top in some ways, as if the movie needs audiences to know just how bad racism is. It takes some of the power away from Robinson’s real-life struggles and makes it feel more like a fable of “look how far we’ve come!”

The baseball is good, though. The movie looks great and the period details are excellent. I just wish that same care went to the rest of the story.

To be fair, I did watch Ken Burn’s Baseball as well as The Jackie Robinson Story, so I am fairly familiar with Robinson’s story. However, 42 didn’t really offer much insight into a pivotal event in both baseball and American history. I wanted more from it.