Hidden Figures review
The journey to space has been a daunting one. Even in this day and age, the physics and mathematics have only gotten us to the edge. Having the Voyager satellite exit the solar system may seem like a major accomplishment (which it is), but it’s still small compared to the size of the universe. Who can blame us considering how we’ve come within the world of transportation. Even getting to space took some time to figure out. It’s something we’ve been trying to do for a while, but everything was set on a hurrying motion once the Soviet Union launched Sputnik.
The 1960’s had us racing against the Soviets for everything; power, technology, and especially the accomplishment of space. It was all about being the first and the US government wanted to make sure that NASA could make that happen. Like I said, the problem was solving a lot of problems that it took to get people to space and making sure they could get back. NASA had hired some of the most intelligent people around, yet they were still having trouble finding the right solutions. The answers seemed to be found within the minds of outsiders as shown in Hidden Figures.
In the early 1960’s, racial segregation is still an issue. Things seem to be a bi more progressive at NASA as they have employed several African-Americans to do a lot of the computing that complicated things. Here we focus on three individuals; mathematics genius Katherine Johnson (played by Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (played by Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (played by Janelle Monáe). They seem to be doing well at NASA, even though they still face some discrimination from their white superiors. Once the Soviets get the first people into space, NASA is looking to get an astronaut to orbit the Earth.
Katherine is hired up to help compute launch and landing numbers for the Space Task Group, being directed by Al Harrison (played by Kevin Costner) and his assistant Paul Stafford (played by Jim Parsons). Meanwhile, Dorothy sees that her and her fellow computing workers are about to be out of a job now that new IBM computers are being installed. To ensure work, Dorothy takes it upon herself to learn to new computer and see if she can get her coworkers to understand it. Also, Mary is being recommended to become an engineer, but company regulations require a certain course from a college that’s white only.
Unlike Moonlight, which was a bleak and human look at a struggling African-American, Hidden Figures is more upbeat and hopeful portrayal of changing times. Does that make it better then the latter? No, as Moonlight is something that’ll be studied in a lot of college courses in race relations, Hidden Figures is more general with it’s approach and will be played in the high schools as a history lesson. That is definitely not a bad thing as this movie is still entertaining, especially considering that the majority of the plot is solving a complex mathematical formula.
All three main actors (Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe) are fantastic and carry their own stories well enough that your never disappointed that the movie is cutting away to their segment. I was curious about how all the of them were going to proceed, given the unfortunate rules of the time. I liked the majority of the cast around them (with the exception of Jim Parsons, who only seems to be playing a version of his Bing Bang Theory character). The film can get a little slow towards the hour mark, but it all picks up towards it’s finale which I wont give away.
I’ll give this four Mercury rockets out of five. If you have any interest of the space program and it’s history, then I cannot recommend this movie enough. Hidden Figures has a lot energy and passion of portraying this real life story. Like Rudy, I think this’ll make people want to follow their goals more. So see if this rocket story launches in your favor.