Saturday, April 13, 2013

Review: 42

Brian Helgeland’s 42 takes a powerful swing and sends its subject sailing most of the way out of the park.

The film is a touching and inspiring telling of the difficulties faced by legendary baseball player Jackie Robinson while trying to adjust to and eventually rise above the doubts and prejudices held by his teammates, rival teams, and the fans in the stands as the first player to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball as a historic member of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

At the same time, 42 also tells the story of Branch Rickey, the Dodgers’ general manager at the time who, with his strong biblical convictions, decided to take a chance on adding a black player to his team.

As I walked out of the theater, one man behind me remarked something to the affect of "that was an incredible movie." I don't disagree. There were lots of things to like about the movie, including how much it strives to reveal and draw you into what was America in 1947. Several instances of racial inequality and segregation are shown throughout the film, and they are all difficult to fathom in 2013. However, they did exist, and the film does a commendable job showing how things were in that time.

As enthralling as it is to see Robinson’s rise from being plucked out of the Negro league to playing in the minor leagues with white men and eventually signing with the Dodgers (it is), I also can’t help but feel that this movie felt a little watered down from what it could have been, but that’s not a rarity with biopics.  For all humorous and light moments in this movie, it would have been intriguing to also explore more of the tension Robinson experienced both while he was on the field and in his personal life. We mostly see these feelings played out through two or three characters and a handful of teammates, and even the death threats Robinson received as a result are only briefly mentioned.

That being said, it was enjoyable to see all of the care that went into this movie with what we do see. The movie is very well shot and features great direction, particularly in creating captivating action on the baseball diamond.

In addition, the film is helped along by engaging performances. Robinson is played by Chadwick Boseman and Rickey by Harrison Ford, and both are great to watch on screen, with Ford being a particular standout. He gives a growling and crusty performance that very well could net an Oscar nomination.

Helgeland’s portrait of Robinson may be watered down and safe version of the actual hardships he faced in favor of a lighter and, at times, more humorous "movie of the week" portrayal of Robinson’s struggle for acceptance, but it’s still a respectfully told and well-acted story that any fan of an inspiring tale or enjoyable sports film should experience.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Point Break remake gains a director

Many sources are reporting a director has been attached to an upcoming remake of Point Break. Heading the project will be Ericson Core, who served as cinematographer for The Fast and the furious and Daredevil. He also directed one other feature-length movie, Invincible. I mostly think of Invincible as being decent, but not too memorable, and I definitely haven't had the desire to revisit it since it was in theaters.

On the subject of a Point Break remake, it seems like a nonsensical venture. The 1991 movie by Kathryn Bigelow is awesome on its own. It features one of a few great performances Keanu Reeves has given throughout his career, and Patrick Swayze is excellent, as well. Furthermore, the action is all rather well done. Therefore, there doesn't seem to be any logical and GOOD reason why it would need to be remade. A well done remake either improves on an area in which the original was lacking, or comments on a social issue that is relevant to modern society, whereas bad remakes just retell the same exact story with different actors. It really feels like a Point Break remake will be unnecessary and likely fall into the latter category. It appears it will focus on something other than surfing, but I don't know if that will be enough to make it a fresh and newly enjoyable experience.

I hope I'm wrong and that it's a remake that causes the story to be worth revisiting a second time or in a completely new and interesting way.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Welcome to Murph on Movies! My name is John Murphy, and with this blog, I hope to establish a friendly and non-judgmental environment for people to discuss new movies, reminisce about older classics, talk about our favorites, and maybe even weigh in on big movie news. Some very brief background information about me: I got a degree in Journalism and minor in Cinema Studies from The University of Central Florida in Orlando and I have an extensive Blu-Ray collection, but really, I'm by no means an expert on the subject. I do, however, know exactly what I like, and I look forward to sharing with you, my readers and subscribers, what I recommend and enjoy in the world of film. I am excited to explore all the potential directions in which this blog could go as the weeks, months, and years go by, as well as getting to know the tastes of my readers and hearing your opinions on the movies I discuss and review. Happy watching everyone!