The ‘who would beat who in their prime’ filmic boxing debate has always been a popular discussion, an ultimate what-if scenario that almost always yields outlandish answers. One such set-up is that of Rocky vs. Raging Bull, and though the time to see them duke it out at their peak has long since passed, Peter Segal’s Grudge Match (2014) – which pits Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro, avatars of the aforementioned characters, as boxing rivals – is still an easy sell for the majority of pugilist-loving punters. An intermittently entertaining sports comedy, for every punch it lands there are several which miss the mark.
Through course of association, the merest reference to former wrestling superstar Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson automatically brings to mind testosterone-filled actioners, and for good reason; this year alone the actor has starred in the enjoyable Fast & Furious 6 and the not-so-enjoyable G.I. Joe: Retaliation. With Snitch (2013), however, Johnson’s machismo is dialled down in favour of a more nuanced character study (in addition to a commentary on drug laws). As a result, what could have easily been yet another unintelligent explosion-fest turns out to be a likeable thriller – and audiences are all the better for it.
Although the sports underdog story has been told several hundred times already on the big screen, it’s one that audiences keep coming back to. Combine it’s tried-and-tested form with a historical grounding and you have 42 (2013), a biopic of Jackie Robinson who was the first black ballplayer in baseball history. Directed by Brian Helgeland, Warner Bros. have released a second trailer for the film this week, and already it has the air of inspiration. Chadwick Boseman is the actor who has been deemed fit to fill Robinson’s shoes, whilst veteran Harrison Ford will play pioneering Los Angeles Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey, who signed Robinson to the minors before bringing him up to the pros.
Watch the trailer for 42 at CineVue here.