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Hidden Figures - A Ms. H Movie Review

Written by RealMsH

Disclaimer:  This movie review of Hidden Figures  is mine alone and does not represent the views of


Before computers, you may wonder exactly what was used to perform the necessary complicated calculations required for such mathematically oriented organizations such as NASA and other technology forward companies. The first answer that may come to mind is calculators; however, calculators have limitations. On the bright side, there is something that does not necessarily have limitations if you allow it or have the capability to have it work at its full capacity.  That thing is the human brain.  In the  movie, Hidden Figures, those brains belong to real-life NASA workers Katherine Goble Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and  Mary Jackson played by Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae, respectively with Taraji P. Henson playing the lead role.

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Authenticity of Hidden Figures

Without revealing spoilers, Hidden Figures is based in the 1960’s when the civil rights movement was in its infancy; where you would see signs pointing out where African Americans could drink water, sit or even where to go to  restrooms when out in public.  In my opinion, the tumultuous times were not shown as they should have been -- or maybe they were “hidden” (no pun intended) from the viewers.  Possibly this was done to keep the focus of the movie on the women instead of what was definitely going on around them.  In that vein, this approach worked for the movie, because the movie was about amazing women, and not about the blatant negativity that abounded.

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Acting Skills of Major Characters in Hidden Figures

In most movies, there is usually an actor who stands out from the rest.  Even though she was acting alongside a past academy award winning actress Octavia Spencer --  Taraji P. Henson performed a stellar job playing the part of Katherine Goble Johnson.  She did not overact  and those segments where she was trying to make a point of what was going on, for example, initially being left out of important briefings, having to go to a specific restroom,  or other prejudices she faced as being both an African American and a woman -- were done well.  

On television Taraji P. Henson plays the part of the outspoken record label empire mogul Cookie. During her performance in Hidden Figures, I did not see Cookie at all in the character she played. My hat's off to her for being able to escape Cookie and show that she can play different parts.  On the other hand, unfortunately, Octavia Spencer seems to be stuck in roles where she is like a caretaker, or a mother-figure for others.  To her benefit, this typecasting attribute is landing her a lot of movie roles, but in most cases, it restricts her from showing her acting talents in different type roles.   However, Taraji P. Henson shows that her acting abilities are multi-faceted.

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To clarify, even though the movie shows Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae  as friends, their positions at NASA varied.  Of these roles, my personal favorite was Taraji P. Henson’s part as Katherine Goble Johnson, the mathematician who appeared to be a living, breathing computer capable of performing all types of  calculations, to the benefit of NASA. In fact, in her position, she was referred to as a computer.

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Inconsistencies in Hidden Figures

The part played by Jim Parsons of Big Bang Theory television fame was an enigma to me, mainly because in one instance Taraji P. Henson’s character was checking behind his work, which severely bruised his ego, and toward the latter part of the movie, he seemed to have assumed the status of being Kevin Kostner’s (Al Morrison) (the boss) right hand man.  It’s possible this actually happened, since the movie is based on true events, however, I believe the parts could have been played by two different actors -- one playing the character who did not like having his work checked, and a different person playing the assistant to the boss.  Another inconsistency was the way the character played by Kirsten Dunst suddenly became friends with Octavia Spencer, even though they clearly did not get along together initially in the movie.  Other than that, the other portions and actions in the movie flowed smoothly.

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Assessment of Hidden Figures

I highly recommend you see Hidden Figures. I think the movie delivered on the points that it wanted to and accomplished what it set out to do in depicting the times and accomplishments of these women.  You may come away after seeing this movie thinking the big deal was the bathrooms African Americans were forced to use at that time; however, in my opinion, the message is much larger than that.  The takeaway message to me is if one puts their mind to something and has great determination along with some smarts, of course, almost anything is possible.  Hidden Figures showed that even with the advanced computation powers of computers, sometimes it takes a human brain to validate its results -- in this case the mind of former NASA employee Katherine Goble Johnson, and I’m sure many others who did this type work during those times.

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Rating of Hidden Figures

Based on a rating of 1 star to 5 stars with 5 stars being the best, I rate Hidden Figures 4 ½ stars.

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