A wonderful and fun film
Let me first state the obvious: I love this movie. It is an awesome movie of people overcoming a system designed to defeat them, it features some great performances all across the board, and it's leads are badass. Seriously, if you've been feeling down in today's political climate, here is another great escape film. This film shamelessly plays on your heart strings, but I never once minded. I think the main reason I didn't mind it was because this film never really seemed to dramatize its story. The most "dramatic" moment in the film did actually happen, (John Glenn proudly talked about it later on in his life) and the movie does a good job to make itself feel pretty intimate, despite the grandiose of the events taking place. So let's jump into it, ya?
First off, the good. This film is anchored by a terrific performance from Taraji P. Henson. Another snub at this year's Oscars, Henson bursts onto the scene in a blaze of glory as the lead here, the badass, snarky, and way-smarter-than-you'll-ever-be Katherine G. Johnson. This character is beautifully written by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, as well as the rest of the supporting cast, which is almost as strong as Henson. Octavia Spencer is the big name here, and she is wonderful as always, but I was taken aback by Janelle Monae. The pop singer has burst onto the acting scene this year with great performances in both Moonlight and Hidden Figures. Here she plays Mary Jackson, who is every bit as ambitious and snarky as lead Katherine. Mahershala Ali makes another strong supporting appearance, and white co-stars Kevin Costner and Kirsten Dunst (I almost missed her she looks so different) are good too. In fact, Dunst had a wonderful character arc and even has one of the most emotionally impactful moments at the end of the film, mostly due to her great performance. The only weak link here surprisingly is Jim Parsons who is definitely too famous in one role for his own good. However he is certainly made up for it by Glen Powell, who absolutely KILLS it as John Glenn. This dude is pretty much a no-name right now, but you better watch out because he's exploding on to the scene after this film.
In addition to some wonderful acting performances and a great script, this film also had a great soundtrack. While the score is mostly invisible (which is a shame because it was composed by Hans Zimmer) the songs, mostly composed by the great Pharrell Williams, make up for it. They provide an extra layer of depth and make this a very fun and upbeat film to watch. Hence why it's the perfect escapism film to watch right now! The 1960's era set and costumes are good, but they are pretty standard for a period film like this. Honestly everything outside the acting, script, and soundtrack are pretty invisible, but I think that's how director Theodore Melfi wanted it. This film is all about Katherine G. Johnson, and everything else you see is around just to help bolster her character. I don't really have any complaints with this film other than the fact that it's motives are very obvious, but is that really a bad thing? I prefer to feel like I'm in the heart of a story versus flying over top of it in a helicopter, but being in a helicopter is by no means a bad thing. This is a great film through and through, and definitely worthy of your time.
The Critique: Anchored by an exceptional performance from Taraji P. Henson, Hidden Figures is an engaging and fun retelling of one of the invisible heroes of the 20th century.
The Recommendation: I think anyone that has any interest in NASA will find something to like here, as well as those who need to escape from the carnage that is our current administration.
The Verdict: 8/10 Great