Valdosta Daily Times

April 16, 2013

‘42’ hits a home run

Adann-Kennn Alexxandar
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — “42” (Sports Drama: 2 hours, 8 minutes)

Starring: Harrison Ford, Chadwick Boseman, Nicole Beharie, and Christopher Meloni

Director: Brian Helgeland

Rated: PG-13 (Strong language, thematic elements and violence)

Movie Review: April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson put on his Brooklyn Dodgers number 42 uniform. He broke the Major League Baseball “color line,” becoming the first black player to grace an all-white major baseball league. This is a history-making moment, Robinson and his wife, Rachel, as played by Boseman and Beharie, must overcome the hatred that is racism. He was called plenty of awful profanities, and often faces discrimination by league members, including his own team. An often-militant Robinson manages to control his anger to become one of baseball’s greatest. 

Though “42” is about Robinson, this could easily be the Robinson/Branch Rickey story. Rickey is the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Ford plays Rickey. Rickey is the person responsible for enlisting Robinson to play in the major league.

A superb Ford and Boseman’s scenes motivate one to care for both of these gentlemen’s causes. They each have their reasons for what they are doing. Their task will not be easy, but observing them work together to achieve their goals is inspirational.      

At many moments, it is difficult to determine who the actual lead in this drama is. This is because Ford, a more seasoned actor, steals the picture. He easily makes Branch Rickey an enriching character. Ford is Oscar-worthy here.

The fault is not Boseman’s that Ford overshadows him. Ford’s Branch Rickey is just one of those shining roles. The character is just rich material ripe for the big screen. Plus, Ford is a veteran actor of the big screen.

Boseman (“The Kill Hole,” 2012) has primarily been a television actor and playwright (“Deep Azure”). In this, his third film, Boseman is relatively unknown to most movie audiences. This is good. Viewers must see him as Robinson, not a movie star.

His pairing with Beharie again is unique. They were both in 2008’s “The Express,” a film about football’s Ernie Davis, the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy. It is fitting they are teamed once more for another historical sports first. The two make a nice team, portraying the Robinsons as a very loving couple and family.

“42” moves quickly, telling just a slice of Robinson’s baseball career. It is a nice honor, even if it is a tame, soft pitch. This drama plays it safe. It just sticks to the story without letting any one aspect of the tribulations of Robinson’s life takes center stage. Instead, it tells a story without making it emotional. The plot just connects A to Z. In this sense, it is just story telling without pushing the envelope.

When the movie is over, audiences should want to see more. Robinson’s story appears incomplete. What happens next? What is his life like unconnected to baseball? Does his relationship with Rickey grow?

These questions are present because the movie is engaging, despite its docile approach. “42” is engaging because Robinsons’ story is gratifying in that anyone could visualize facing his obstacles and wanting to overcome them.

A viewer may not be a young black man in a racist era, but it is easy to see a man trying to overcome heavy burdens and want him to succeed. This screenplay easily makes one relate to Robinson. Second, the film easily makes one have sympathy for Rickey’s reasons also. This is where the film scores its best and biggest points.

Director-writer Helgeland (“Payback,” 1999) easily makes one relate to his main characters, Robinson and Rickey. When a photoplay achieves this, other discrepancies in the movie appear trivial, and audiences just see themselves in a place that needs a happy conclusion.  

Grade: B+ (42 is a homerun.)

“Jurassic Park 3-D” (Adventure/Science-Fiction: 2 hours, 8 minutes)

Starring: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum and Richard Attenborough

Director: Steven Spielberg

Rated: PG-13 (Intense science-fiction terror and thematic elements and some brief gore)

Movie Review: A team led by John Hammond (Attenborough) has created a way to bring dinosaurs back to life through the process of cloning and other scientific technology. They have created an island full of living dinosaurs of various types. Hammond invites four individuals Dr. Alan Grant (Neill), Dr. Ellie Sattler (Dern), Dr. Ian Malcolm (Goldblum) and Hammond’s two grandchildren to Jurassic Park for a chance to see dinosaurs up close. After one of the park’s employees sabotages the security network to steal for a rival competitor, plans go awry when dinosaurs escape their habitats. 

Based on observing the little girl seated in front of me, this 1993 film, an adaptation of 1990 novel by Michael Crichton, may be too scary for young children. The girl kept telling her mother that she was tired of scary dinosaurs. Even more, she kept yelling, I will not look any more. Clearly, she was terrified. This did not stop her mother and older siblings from enjoying this action, science-fiction piece. 

Some films have greater impact when they debut. Their purpose is for, or at least work for, the time in which they originated. Twenty years ago, “Jurassic Park” was a groundbreaking film. It was a grand spectacle as only famed Spielberg and big producers could create. It worked as great entertainment.

It is still good entertainment, and it is still a grand adventure that makes dinosaurs interesting. A certain awe remains when watching this.

However, this film appears campy watching it now. The plot is not nearly as serious as it seemed when first viewing this film years ago. Some scenes are really funnier now than years ago. While too scary for small fries, this film’s aim really was younger audiences and their adult companions. This appears more evident now than when it debuted.

Still, this should not detour one from seeing it in 3-D. It remains moving entertainment. Special effects and animatronics are still captivating. Three-dimensional aspects make it more riveting, enhancing its value for modern audiences.

Grade: B+ (A park worth visiting.)


“Scary Movie V” (Comedy: 1 hour, 25 minutes)

Starring: Ashley Tisdale, Simon Rex, Erica Ash

Director: Malcolm D. Lee

Rated: PG-13 (Profanity, violence, nudity, gore, sexuality, drug-alcohol reference, and crude humor)

Movie Review: What do Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, Snoop Dogg, Katt Williams, Molly Shannon, Terry Crews, Jasmine Guy, Jerry O’Connell, Shad Moss (aka Bow Wow), Kate Walsh, Heather Locklear, and Mike Tyson have in common?

They are all in a scary thing called a bad movie.

This film mixes several recent films to create this — a messy production not worth audiences’ time. It follows Tisdale and Rex, who play Jody and Dan. The couple experiences some paranormal activity once adopting Dan’s two nieces and nephew who survived months in a cabin in the wilderness. The children tell Jody and Dan that Mama raised them. As it turns out, Mama is a malevolent spirit who follows the children back to Jody and Dan’s new abode.

Malcolm Lee’s best remains “Undercover Brother” (2002) and “Roll Bounce” (2005). Otherwise, he knows how to aid in the production of wasteful movies. Here, Lee delves into spoofing better films, some not horror movies: “Inception (2010), “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (2011) and Tyler Perry’s Madea.

For this fifth “Scary Movie,” very few smart moments exist between the moments of absurdity. The awful spoof and parody moments are the scary parts. This consists of nearly the entire movie.

Grade: F (Bad Movie.)


“Evil Dead” (Horror: 1 hour, 30 minutes)

Starring: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas and Elizabeth Blackmore

Director: Fede Alvarez

Rated: R (Gore, violence, thematic elements and profanity)

Movie Review: Five friends lodge at a remote cabin to rehabilitate their friend, Mia (Levy), who is a recovering drug addict. They discover the Book of the Dead. Eric (Pucci), a teacher and one of the five, unknowingly summons a demon living in the nearby woods. The evil being inhabits Mia. The problem is that evil being begins possessing each of them, causing the group of young people to prey on each other.

A unique aspect of horror pictures is that people never do the correct thing. After some terrible event, characters never do what ordinary people would — leave when they should.

The one guy that talks sense is the one person who does not have enough sense to leave.  

Second, no one knows when to turn on lights. When something weird is happening in a room, one does not enter the room, wait a moment, and then turn on the lights. This is a quick way to die or risk bodily injury.  

Such idiotic behavior exists throughout. This is the formulaic recurrence of this and other modern horror films.

These things make this a very stereotypical screenplay that is based on the 1981 screenplay by Sam Raimi. The 1981 version was at least comical. The modern version offers over-the-top, gory horrific moments. The gore works infrequently.

“Evil Dead” has it frightful moments, but its best moments happen during the first few minutes of its opening scenes. Otherwise, this movie is just one gory, bloody moment after the next, a repetitive cycle.            

Grade: C- (Expired material.)