Saturday, 11 February 2017

'Hidden Figures' Review

Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) were three of the brightest minds at NASA during the Space Race. The three women were vital to the launch of John Glenn into space, which justified the space program and really changed the world. The trio had to put up with segregation and racism as they powered through to help their country do something truly incredible.

When you think of films based around NASA or even space at all, you are inclined to think of the likes of 'Apollo 13' or even something like 'Armageddon'. It's safe to say that the more popular space films are based on disasters within space, providing enough tension and drama to create a stimulating experience. 'Hidden Figures' takes a much different look to the space race, opting to showcase a story that many will not have heard of. 

In a time where many African-Americans were still campaigning for equal rights in the U.S, there were many black men and women who did a lot of the hard work at companies across the country and frankly, didn't get the credit, the pay or the jobs that they deserved. With his latest film, Theodore Melfi looks to show the world who some of the true heroes were in a pivotal moment of history.

Melfi handles the situation on show tremendously well as the film shows the struggle that these women and many other would've faced all over America. The story shows how these hardworking women gave their all and showcased their abilities, yet got next to no recognition for their efforts. The treatment at times is shocking and horrible to watch at times as the discrimination on show doesn't make a particularly pleasant watch. There isn't anything that will make you turn away from the screen, it's just unnecessary pettiness that for me, is hard to think of why people thought like this. This is what makes this a very important film as it showcases what the world used to be like in a time period not too long ago. The human spirit and determination are on show here as these courageous women don't let themselves become lost in the fold. It could've been easy for these women to continue doing the same work with no chance of moving on. Instead, they knuckled down, put in the hard work whilst also campaigning for what they deserved. 'Hidden Figures' is a great credit to many people who went through this situation and overall, is a really uplifting story for all.

Portraying three of NASA's sharpest, most underappreciated minds are Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae and Octavia Spencer - who earned a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her role. All three could've quite easily become very stereotypical characters, with the first scene where we meet the characters edging dangerously close to doing so. As the film goes on, you grow to like the characters more and more, especially Taraji P. Henson's Katherine G Johnson, the main protagonist of the film. Each of the women is unique with Johnson being more of the quiet hard worker, Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) being the wisest and sort of the leader of the coloured section at NASA and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) being more of a comic relief character, bringing some good humour to the film. The three have tremendous chemistry, bringing that feeling of a true friendship within the workplace very well. Each are very strong characters throughout the film, doing a very good job at bringing these unknown heroes to the big screen.

Kevin Costner provides support to the three lead women in what was a very enjoyable role to see him in. As Al Harrison, the director of the Space Task Group, Costner only has one goal, to get something American made into space. Harrison does not care about who does the work to achieve this, carrying no prejudice against anyone and is key to helping break down barriers in the film. Costner was great throughout the film and very unlucky to miss out on a Best Supporting Actor nomination. 'The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons also provided a good performance, this time as more of an opposition to the women. Parsons character was one of the narrow-minded, brainiest people at NASA who didn't want help from the likes of Johnson. The character was very unlikeable which was necessary for the film as it made the success of Johnson that bit sweeter to watch.

After the debacle last year with #OscarsSoWhite, 'Hidden Figures' is a great response to claims that films with black leads can't be recognised. 'Hidden Figures' is more than deserving of its nominations this year and truly great and well-told story. The film is handled with real class and is a real uplifting story, huge credit must go to director Theodore Melfi and to the wonderful cast.

Final Verdict = 

So have you seen 'Hidden Figures'? If so, what did you think of the film? I hope that this review was useful for if you were planning on seeing the film or not. Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my review, it is much appreciated!

By Angus McGregor