Movie Review: Hidden Figures

Details: Released in 2016. Stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe. Over two hours long.

The Oscar Awards are upon us and I decided to take a watch of a bunch of the nominated films that I had yet to see. Hidden Figures is first on the list.

This film is based on the true story about three black women who were important in NASA and made big contributions to putting a man into space during the Space Race (that’s the race between the United States and the Soviet Union to put a man into space, in case you don’t know your American history).

It was an interesting that I felt had some merit to being told. It’s not a particularly exciting movie with any huge developments. No one is getting hurt. No extreme emotions. Just the unfairness of society and some people trying to get through it.

There are a lot of big actors here besides the three main names. Kevin Costner has a big role as well as Kirsten Dunst and Jim Parsons. Everyone was good.

My problem with this movie is not really this film in particular, but the context of this film within reality. This is black rights movie. This is an underdog story. This is a biopic. This is also a movie aimed at black audiences. The overall theme is one of equality, but that the black actors in this film are usually only seen in other movies targeting black audiences expresses the inequality of show business. I couldn’t help but realize that while these actors are good, I will likely only see them films where being black is central to the movie. If Hollywood truly wanted to combat racism rather than win awards and make money, then they should cast blacks and other minorities into more leading roles where race isn’t central to the story.

As a participant in society, I realize there is racism and discrimination in our world and in show business. It’s just hard to watch films where race is the central theme and not have that movie spoiled, that fourth wall broken down by the hypocrisy of an industry that tries to put out films endorsing equality while not putting people of color into more roles or recognizing their performances. I know this was a bit of a rant, but my point is this: the hypocrisy of Hollywood and that I have only seen the actors of this film in movies/shows that center on being black or appealing to black audiences took away from my enjoyment of and my immersion into a film. This was one of those times where reality and current events hurt a movie.

Overall, not a movie that I think should win best picture of the year, but decent. This is not a movie of extremes, but of restraint. I don’t think it’s required viewing, but if you have an interest in American history and how civil rights intermingled with NASA and the space race, then I could recommend it. If you’ve enjoyed anything that Taraji P. Henson has been in in the last few years, I also recommend it.

Score: 5.9/10


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