STARRING: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Kristen Dunst, Jim Parsons, Glen Powell, Mahershala Ali and Aldis Hodge
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.
As the United States raced against Russia to put a man in space, this film tells the true story of three African-American women, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson, that served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history.
Hidden Figures tells the story of three African-American women, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson, who worked at NASA and how they quickly rose the ranks of NASA alongside many of history’s greatest minds specifically tasked with calculating the momentous launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, and guaranteeing his safe return.
Hidden Figures is a film that is filled with charm in this family-friendly tale of a true story mainly focusing on the three women overcoming their own obstacles within the workplace that is NASA. The performances are pretty solid throughout the cast here, especially on the three leads. Taraji P. Henson is great as Katherine Goble Johnson, looking to be seen as an equal by her colleagues in the Space Task Group, Octavia Spencer is good as Dorothy Vaughn who is looking to achieve supervisor status and also tries to make herself irreplaceable before she is replaced by an incoming new computer system and Janelle Monáe gives a solid performance as Mary Jackson, who has to battle to attend an all-white school in order to get qualified to achieve engineer status at NASA. Kevin Costner and Mahershala Ali are also fine in their roles respectively.
While the performances make the film, it’s a shame that the script sometimes lets them down with few pieces of forced dialogue. The line of driving down the highway behind a police car in ‘Hampton, Virginia in 1961’ felt incredibly forced upon adding the year and then there’s the soon to be famous ‘Here at NASA we all pee the same colour’ line which is….certainly a different line of creating a bridge of equality on film let alone the workplace. In terms of score the music at times feels misplaced, for me particularly Pharrell Williams score at times just didn’t seem to fit tonally with the film but that’s just my opinion. While the performances were great for the roles, I felt that Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson’s arcs weren’t as fleshed out as I would’ve liked, especially in the second half of the film which shifts most of its focus to Katherine Goble Johnson’s arc. The film also follows most generic beats of a true story adapted for the big screen and for those that like their true story films remain accurate to the source material, the creation of characters played by Jim Parsons and Kristen Dunst as antagonists to an extend for the main characters may irritate them.
A feel good family film with performances from main leads Henson, Spencer and Monáe is what helps elevate a pretty generic script that feels like every biopic that came before. The mathematics was handled in a way that actually had me interested in it without feeling completely lost and the score at times worked and sometimes felt out of place for me. 6/10