I HAVE no idea why I like baseball films so much. I've never watched a baseball game in my life, but there is something about the Americans' reverence and love for the game which spills over when they use it as subject matter for their films.
If you sit me down in front of movies like Field of Dreams and The Natural, you won't hear a peep out of me for two hours.
42 tells the story of the first truly great black baseball player, Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Baseman). And while it's a film which catalogues the struggles, prejudice and downright inhumanity which existed in 1946 towards blacks from all walks of life, it is also a film about bravery, persistence and hope.
On the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's 'I Have a Dream' speech, this is a timely reminder of how those dreams struggled to become a reality.
Harrison Ford plays Branch Rickey, general manager of the famous Brooklyn Dodgers, whose single mindedness and dogged obstinance were responsible for the signing of Robinson to his team, at a time when black baseball players were not allowed to play for the Major League and were sidelined to lesser teams where white baseball players were nowhere to be seen. Facing almost insurmountable prejudice, Robinson joined the team and had to prove his right to belong on so many levels. Wearing the number 42 shirt (a number which in honour of his achievements has been retired from the shirts of baseball players) his struggle to become one of the greatest players in the world is the stuff of legend and his bravery and determination are the reason he succeeded, where lesser men would surely have crumbled with the pressure.
Struggling with an infamous temper, his challenge was to not fight back with words or violence but to let his play on the field do the talking, and, in the end, this was more than enough.
Supported by his wife (charmingly played by Nicole Beharie), it was a family battle as well as a personal one, but Rachel Robinson was more than up to the task and battled the storm every inch of the way at her husband's side.
Branch Rickey holds a special place in history for being the man who changed the face, and colour, of baseball. But his motives were not just honourable.
Explaining to his bemused staff that 'dollars are not black and white — only green', gives us a glimpse of the businessman who would fight the upcoming battle, not just because it was the right thing to do, but because success meant money.
And he never hid this, or pretended his motives were anything more.
Ford, no longer the rugged and agile Indiana Jones, though thankfully film will capture that image for ever, turns in an engrossing performance as the man responsible for change.
He knows he will face the wrath, not only of the general public, but of the press and his fellow peers, but nothing will dissuade him from bringing Robinson to his team.
In the end it's all about the baseball and the love of the game. The film itself isn't a great work of art.
It is overtly sentimental and unashamedly corny — the score by Mark Isham is overkill and wasn't required.
And we never really see inside the man who was Jackie Robinson, and we will never know if the energy it took to restrain himself through those difficult days was one of the factors in his early death.
He died from a heart attack at the age of 53. But despite its lameness in the personal insights of these characters, this movie will rouse and uplift even the hardest of hearts.