Movie Review: Hidden Figures





Hidden Figures: The story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program.

Starring:  Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe

Rated: PG

Released: January 6th, 2017

My Rating: 5/5

Hidden Figures was an amazing movie.

Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, and Janelle Monae brought Dorothy Vaughan, Katherine Johnson, and Mary Jackson to vibrant life. They were captivating characters that you instinctively rooted for. There was more than one time when the whole theater laughed, cheered, or applauded for these ladies. Especially Octavia/Dorothy and Taraji/Katherine.

There were so many times when Katherine was dealing with crap that I could feel sympathy and irritation rushing through me. Every small piece of ground she gained made me thrilled for her. She was definitely the star of the story, and her struggles and successes actually had me tearing up at points. But Dorothy’s role, backseat as it was, still evoked just as much emotion. When she finally got what she deserved, I was grinning from ear to ear.

All was wonderfully acted. Even Costner and that guy from The Big Bang did a solid job.

The pacing was fantastic. The story so well told that even though I knew how things ended, I still found myself on the edge of my seat, fingers crossed for the astronauts. I think the Space Race in general holds a certain fascination for many people, including me. And seeing the people who made it happen come to life is quite satisfying.

I’m aware of the fact that they had to take some liberties with certain things (mainly compressing the timeline) to make a good movie out of it, but what I’ve read indicates they didn’t enhance nearly as much as one might have expected.

Not only did Hidden Figures celebrate the successes (and struggles) of some truly awesome women, but it actually made me cognizant of how hard it was for African Americans back then.

I knew it was hard. I’ve read the history books. I’ve heard segregation talked about in classes. I think racism is a crock of sh*t, and I’m glad we’re moving past it. (This recent turn with Herr Cheeto is entirely unacceptable.)  But before now, it’s been history and that’s it. It meant nothing to me other than some abstract thoughts, you know? It was hard to appreciate exactly how hard it was.

Watching Hidden Figures made me want to travel back in time and punch some white men and women in the face.  Flat out.  I’m still a bit speechless when I think about it.

/on soapbox How the hell did people ever think it was okay to treat other humans like that? How in the world do people still think it’s okay?  I won’t lie and say I’ve always been against racism – I grew up in a very racist environment. Not quite skinhead level, but let’s just say they weren’t exactly looked down upon if you get me. Some of the earliest jokes I learned were ones that degraded African Americans.

But somewhere along the line, I figured out that racism is not okay. That not only is it not okay, but it’s outright stupid. The only reason anyone has for being racist in this day and age is a willingness to be completely blind to what’s right in front of them. /off soapbox

My friend said “I wish they’d have made this movie several years ago!” as we were discussing it afterward. I shook my head and told her that it was made at the perfect time. When she looked at me in confusion, this is what I said:

“Look at what’s happening right now. Look at the POS we have as POTUS. At the resurgence of this ‘white is right’ crock. We needed this movie now. We needed a movie that not only highlighted the contributions of people with different colored skin to America, but did so so well that the whole theatre applauded after watching it. No, we needed this movie right now.”

I’m looking forward to reading the book Hidden Figures now. (I held off because I didn’t want to experience the usual “But that’s not how it happened in the book!” frustration).

In conclusion: Hidden Figures is a fantastic movie that even a sci-fi and gorehound has to stop and appreciate. Go watch it now.


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