Hidden Figures (2017) Review

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Summary: Based on a true story. A team of African-American women provide NASA with important mathematical data needed to launch the program’s first successful space missions.
Pros:
Cast and Characters. There are a lot of characters in this film, but I’m going to stick to talking about the three women who are the focus. I may mention the others but they’ll be categorized as “Secondary”.
  • Taraji P. Henson as Katherine Goble. She is a mathematician, a genius at that. She works in the “Colored Computers” area of Nasa and gets the chance to work with the Space Task Group. She seems a bit reserved and timid, not necessarily shy, but someone who doesn’t seem to socialize much outside of her two best friends. She is so smart, that she makes her situation work. Due to this being set during serration, she is the first African American woman to work in the group, she cannot use the bathrooms, and she even gets funny looks when she uses the coffee pot. It’s easy to see that it affects her, but she does her job and boy does she do it well. No matter how much it seems like the men in her group aren’t trying to help her, she manages to push past that and become even greater. I loved her relationship with her daughters, as well as Dorothy and Mary. She seemed like the middle sister of the group, the one who goes with the flow. I think Taraji was fantastic here, definitely some of her best acting. She’s funny, she’s sweet and kind but when moments need to be fiery she can do that too. She was wonderful and deserves all the accolades. I hope she gets them.
  • Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughn. Also a mathematician, she is the “supervisor” of her group of women, she is trying to officially get the job but is having a hard time. She is definitely the mother hen of the group (she’s the one who pushes for Katherine to be considered for the Space Task Group), as well as being pretty handy. When we first meet her, she is under her car trying to find out why it stalled lol, it’s pretty great. When she notices Nasa is bringing a machine to help calculate numbers, she takes it upon herself to make sure she knows how to fix and work that giant machine so she can make moves. You can’t go wrong with Octavia, you know that she is going to tell someone where to put it and when she does, it’s glorious. I loved just how motherly she was, as well as being strong for her friends, for her girls in her group and her kids. There’s this great library/bus scene she’s great.
  • Janelle Monae as Mary Jackson. An engineer, she is definitely like the little sister of her friend group. She is spunky, she will tell it like it is “this is civil rights, I can see fine in every color” lol. She is smart and works hard. She wants to be an engineer but her race and gender hinder that, so she wants to go to school to become eligible for the position. She works on fighting to get into a night school and she was not backing down. As this is Janelle Monae’s first film, it’s not noticeable, she holds her own quite well with the other actresses. She is likable, she makes you root for her and I think she does a really fine job here.
  • Supporting characters.
    • Kevin Costner as Al Harrison. The director of the Space Task Group and he was good. He helped with a lot of nudges, I thought it was some good acting from Mr. Costner.
    • Mahershala Ali as Jim Johnson. I really like this actor, he is such a natural. I find him very attractive lol, but he was definitely a supporting role. He sees Katherine and they talk. He’s so kind to her and her kids. *cries* I love it.
    • Kirsten Dunst as Vivian Mitchell. I like Kirsten Dunst but ooo I want to punch her face in this movie (not the first time honestly though), just like the time period. Skating around legit questions, not providing actual answers… being a little nasty sometimes. I think Kirsten Dunst did well here too.
    • Jim Parsons as Paul Stafford. So jealous of Katherine, he was a bit mean to her sometimes. I don’t watch his show and I haven’t really seen him in anything but it just seemed so weird to see him being rude lol. It doesn’t fit him, sarcastic jerk seems better lol. But he does his job because I wanted to punch him too lol.
The Music. I loved it. It was very uplifting and though it was modern, it had a nice feel to it that indicated the time period.
The costumes. Time period films always call for some great looking costumes, but they were all great, especially Mary Jackson’s clothes. Every time she was on screen, her outfits got a reaction from me lol. I mean everything!
The Friendship. I love seeing strong black friendships in film. I love how each woman was so different but they were so close. They teased each other, they obviously loved each other, and they were each other’s backbones in the world they worked in. Not only were they women in a man’s world, but they were black women in a white man’s world and they helped each other. The scene where Katherine meets Jim Johnson was hilarious, her friends did just what friends do when their single friend finds a man good looking.
The Humor. It’s funny. It’s probably not bust your gut funny but it’s funny. Little comments from Mary about certain things, especially the beginning with the police officer. The way the three women act around each other, how they tease each other. Katherine’s expressions during scenes, same with Mary and Dorothy. It’s quite light hearted.
The story. The story highlights the three black women who worked in Nasa and who took charge and made a change. It’s such a great, uplifting story. It’s encouraging. Katherine has to work so hard just to do her job, a job that she is good at but is constantly met with adversity even as she makes progress. Dorothy wants to move forward in her job but it seems like they won’t let her, so she takes it upon herself to make sure she can do more than what they expect. Mary fights to be able to be “the first” so she can be an engineer and help create these shuttles. The fact that these black women were able to push past the barriers placed in front of them, it leaves the viewer, especially if you can relate, encouraged, determined. It’s so very well told as well.
The Bathroom scene. Without spoiling, there is this fantastically tremendous scene where Al Harrison asks Katherine where she goes when she disappears. Because there isn’t a colored bathroom in that area, she has to run about a mile to the West Campus just to go to the bathroom. It happened to have rained that day too. Taraji almost had me in tears during this scene due to her acting. Amazing. Katherine’s frustration, her pain of being treated that way, everything just came to the surface and she was no longer quiet about it. Ugh, such a great scene. If Taraji is nominated for an Oscar (which I think she should be), this should be the scene they show.
Cons:
Mixing old footage with the film footage. I didn’t think they needed to have that in there. You know, like putting in the old archived footage and then kind of having it blend out into the new footage? Wasn’t really necessary, we know it’s based on a true story, plus, what they do at the end in the credits helps too, so that was a little out of place.
Overall,
I loved Hidden Figures, it’s a feel good, inspiring movie. It’s one of those movies that will make people want to go and read the book, or go and research more about this because it’s so interesting, so great. I think what really shines here though is the acting/performances. It’s almost one of those films where what is remembered the most is the performances, what the actors did with these characters. Yes, there are memorable scenes, but it really boils down to the acting. I thought the three leads were fantastic, Taraji was superb. I completely get why Octavia Spencer has been nominated for her role, I’m not taking that away from her in any sense, however, I don’t think it’s legit that Taraji P. Hansen hasn’t really gotten any award recognition for her role and she’s the lead and she was fantastic. I hope she gets more recognition. I think Pharrell’s music was a nice blend for the movie, of being modern and of that time period, I thought Hans Zimmer’s score was lovely. The costumes were nice, the movie is funny and I loved the friendship between Mary, Dorothy and Katherine. Hidden Figures is a must see.
Rating: 4. 60 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Hidden Figures? If so, what did you think about it? Let me know in the comments below. Don’t forget to follow and like this blog!
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