Scott Hardie: “It was ok.”
What kind of movie about Jackie Robinson begins with a notice that "this film is based on a true story"? This movie loves to indulge in the obvious, having its characters slowly spell out each turn of the plot for anyone who has trouble keeping up. Furthermore, the PG-13 rating keeps it from showing much violence or cursing, so this feels like the sanitized version of the story on top of being the simple version. Too bad.
What the movie does do very well is make a case that Robinson deserves the hagiographic hero worship that the movie lavishes on him. His quick wits and tough temperament and immutable pride made him the right man to break through this barrier. Yes, his suffering was nearly messanic at times, and he should be lauded for it. The movie could have fallen into the trap that Spike Lee called the "magical black man," where his suffering cleanses the sins of the white men and redeems them, but it wisely allows most of its racist white characters to remain racist at the end. They don't exist to be converted; they exist to be overcome. This remains Robinson's movie from start to finish, a tricky feat considering how newcomer Chadwick Boseman could have easily been overwhelmed by the great supporting cast around him. I was moved by Robinson's suffering, and I appreciated learning more about how America took this important step.
Erik Bates: “It ruled.”
Admittedly, I don't know a great deal about the story of Jackie Robinson, but this didn't feel like it was overly-dramatized. I didn't walk out of the theater saying, "There's no way all that is true." So often, I leave a biopic and immediately fly to Wikipedia to try to sort the truth from fiction. I felt no such urge with this film. My only gripe is that Harrison Ford felt overly stereotypically 1940's, if that makes any sense whatsoever.
Scott Hardie: more by Scott
Samir Mehta: “It was ok.”
I wanted to rank this slightly higher but I can't. It's a really good biopic that is nearly great but ultimately is undermined by its "Disneyish" desires. The acting and storytelling is all excellent but it almost undermines the perfection at is core with too much prettifying around it.