Does the New Jackie Robinson Movie Look Any Good?

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Sept. 21 2012 3:43 PM

Trailer Critic: 42

A still from the trailer for 42

In the opening moments of the new trailer for the upcoming Jackie Robinson biopic 42, an obscure figure walks slowly down a dark, narrow hallway towards a faint light. A voiceover proclaims, “I don’t know who he is … or where he is … but he’s coming.” Those last words land just as the figure reaches the light and reveals the iconic number on the back of his jersey, which Major League Baseball retired league-wide in 1997.

This melodramatic setup actually feels entirely fitting for a story about Robinson, who lived an incredibly intense and revolutionary life as the outsider who busted his way into the then exclusionary world of America’s national pastime. That story has been brought to the big screen before—the athlete played himself in 1950’s The Jackie Robinson Story only three years after he first integrated the league—but that was a different time. With a relative unknown, Chadwick Boseman, portraying Robinson this time around, and Harrison Ford—looking, perhaps for the first time, like the 70-year old actor he is—as Branch Rickey, general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, one hopes that this film will take a more critical approach to the period’s racism than the first film possibly could.


The trailer zips rather quickly through images of mid-20th-century America—“colored” and “whites only” entry ways, for instance. And it is one of many trailers this year to feature Jay-Z, who is, perhaps, becoming a movie-promotion cliché. But in this instance his lyrics could hardly be more appropriate: “I Brooklyn Dodger them / I jack, I rob, I sin / A-men, I’m Jackie Robin-son,” he raps on the track, “Brooklyn (We Go Hard).”

Most tellingly, although Ford is the big star, director and writer Brian Helgeland appears, thankfully, more focused on Robinson and the incredible abuse he had to endure on and off the field, from rivals and fellow teammates alike. One hopes that Boseman will prove a smart choice for the role of the legend. Judging from this trailer, at least, he looks up to the task.

Aisha Harris is a Slate staff writer.


The World

The Budget Disaster that Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

Can Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu Pull Off One More Louisiana Miracle?

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

Everything You Should Know About Today’s Eclipse

Fascinating Maps Based on Reddit, Craigslist, and OkCupid Data


Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.


The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

How Movies Like Contagion and Outbreak Distort Our Response to Real Epidemics

  News & Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
Oct. 23 2014 11:51 AM It Seems No One Is Rich or Happy: I Looked
Atlas Obscura
Oct. 23 2014 1:34 PM Leave Me Be Beneath a Tree: Trunyan Cemetery in Bali
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
Oct. 23 2014 1:46 PM The Real Secret of Serial Has Sarah Koenig made up her mind yet? 
Oct. 23 2014 11:45 AM The United States of Reddit  How social media is redrawing our borders. 
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 23 2014 7:30 AM Our Solar System and Galaxy … Seen by an Astronaut
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.