This glossy portrayal of trailblazing African American baseball star Jackie Robinson lacks focus. With one eye on history, the other is firmly on a potential Academy Award nomination next February, causing 42 to drop the ball. Rather than delve deep into a story that has wider implications towards race relations at a time when America was very much at a crossroads, it takes the easy way out, instead opting for a ‘1940’s Racism for Dummies’ telling of events.

Filmed with the golden glow of an Oscar statue, it is made with painstaking attention to detail, capturing the look and feel of the period, right down to the old-school baseball jerseys. The acting is of an equally high standard, with newcomer Chadwick Boseman making a convincing transformation from hotheaded rookie to historical icon. Harrison Ford is equally impressive, donning the prosthetic eyebrows as gruff team owner Branch Rickey. His motivation for backing Robinson is the most intriguing aspect of the film, he also gets all the best lines in a typically Oscar-baiting role.

It is a curious then that a film that is so meticulous in its presentation, and boasts such strong performances across the board, is left feeling so devoid of life. Characters do not have normal conversations, rather offer soundbites that will resonate throughout history. Not a single human interaction feels real. A feel-good triumph of the human spirit rather than an in-depth examination of civil rights perhaps but considering it is a film about challenging the social norm to change an unjust system, it takes no risks other than the liberal use of the N-word. 42 is happy to hold your hand and walk your through a difficult period in history, rather than challenge you with a more accurate re-telling of events.

Michael Clancy