Hidden Figures Review

Updated on January 20, 2018
Ross Tanenbaum profile image

Ross is a student at the University of Maryland. He is planning on majoring in Film Studies and English.

An Intriguing Look at an Untold Story

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Throughout history, there have been so many people whose accomplishments have gone overlooked. Some of these people have had a very important impact on society and have not been fully recognized for their achievements. Hidden figures is a warm-hearted, wonderfully performed look at three important women who had a tremendous impact on American society and have not had their story told until now.

Plot

Hidden figures tells the story of Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae), three women who worked for NASA during the 1960's. America is currently in the space race with Russia and are falling behind. The story shows how the three main characters helped NASA successfully send a man into space while also dealing with being African American women during the 1960's, a time of segregation and discrimination in America.

Performances

The main thing that I thought was fascinating is how nobody knew about these three women. They all had a huge impact on the space race and their achievements really had not been recognized. This is an important story that must be told and it was told very well.

All three women shine in these roles. The most noteworthy performance is Henson. The movie mainly focuses around her and her experience as a mathematician surrounded by white men who looked down on her. She gives a fantastic performance throughout the film and is definitely worthy of some Oscar buzz. She is a shy character who has to be more aggressive in her current situation and she does a great job at portraying these emotions.

Monae also gives a very good performance as an engineer who is trying to become eligible to become the first African American woman engineer for NASA. I had not seen her in anything before this and this will definitely be a breakthrough performance for her. Octavia Spencer also gives a great performance, although I feel her character had the least to do in this movie. She still captures every scene that she is in and is also very funny in this movie.

The supporting actors also do a great job in this movie. Kevin Costner plays Henson's boss and successfully portrays someone who wants to get the job done and does not care about what color the people are that he needs to do it. Kirsten Dunst also is good however her southern accent sometimes slips in and out, but she still is good in the movie. Jim Parsons plays a co-worker of Henson who is uncomfortable with her working here. I thought he did a good job at playing the rude, racist white dude of the movie, but I think anybody could have played this role. Also, the arc his character goes through is somewhat predictable. Mahershala Ali also pops in as Henson's love interest and is good, but he isn't in the movie much.

Direction

The story in this movie is told very well. It is well paced and features aspects of American society in the 1960's that were controversial at the time. Segregation occurred during this time but there was also protests against it going on. It shows some of the main characters dealing with the inequality of being African American during this time. It is dark and serious when it needs to be but it also provides light and hope. Even though it deals with serious subject matter, it is difficult to leave this movie without a smile on your face. The movie is rated PG so it really does not deal with anything too harsh or violent.

I also felt that the director, Theodore Melfi, did a great job at keeping the audience interested in the material. The math terms may be confusing but he does a good job at making sure the audience understands what is happening so that they can keep up with the story. Also, the scenes in space are very well handled. The special effects look good and the director successfully captures suspense during these scenes. He did a good job at showing how important the space race was to American society.

The score in this movie is also great. It is conducted by the fantastic Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams & Benjamin Wallfisch. It provides scenes extra drama but it also makes happy scenes very endearing. The score provides an extra flair to this great story.

My main flaw with this movie is that it did not fully balance the main story and the personal lives of the main characters. The scenes that dealt with their personal lives are good and fun to watch but the movie seemed to cut it short to get back to what is occurring with NASA. For example, there is an important event that happens with Henson's character but the movie only shows a glimpse of it and then cuts right back to NASA. It still helped give good character development to all the main characters, I just wish that I could see more of it.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Hidden Figures was a great, heart-warming movie. I highly recommend it just for the fact that it is an important story that everyone should know about. It is also an extremely empowering movie, not just for women or African Americans, but for anyone who felt that they could not achieve their dreams. It shows that one should stay strong and believe in themselves.

Rating: 8.5/10

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