Saturday, January 28, 2017
Hidden Figures Review
In case you are wondering, I did manage to see "Hidden Figures" before I made my top 10 best movies of 2016 list. And no, it didn't make that list. But that's not an insult to the movie. That's just a compliment to how good of a year 2016 ended up being. In terms of 2016 Civil Rights themed movies, I prefer "Loving" over "Hidden Figures," but not by much. "Loving" did make my list at No. 9 while "Hidden Figures" was a part of my honorable mentions at No. 16. I'm sure you've heard of it by now, but in case you haven't, "Hidden Figures" is a biopic focusing on three black ladies in the 1960's working for NASA. The focus of the movie is mainly on mathematician Katherine Goble, played by Taraji P. Henson, but we also get side stories along the way focusing on Mary Jackson, played by Janelle Monáe, and Dorothy Vaughan, played by Octavia Spencer. This is the point in history where the United States was trying to get a man in space. John Glenn was the man. NASA needed some extra help and Katherine Goble was extremely influential in making that happen due to her top-notch math skills. Yes, math is cool. And useful. Math put a man in space!
Another thing I loved about this movie is that they weren't afraid to stick with the PG rating. We have an annoying stereotype with the MPAA that R is for adults, PG-13 is for teenagers and PG is for kids. G rarely exists and thankfully NC-17 is a rarity as well. I don't really like this. There's a lot of movies that are either R or PG-13 just because they want to target an older audience. I've seen countless number of movies that are almost PG in content, but because they're afraid that no adults will watch their movie if they're PG, they throw in some useless strong language just to get their R or PG-13. If the language or other content is essential to make your movie more emotional, then fine. Watered down movies are annoying, too. But if you have a movie whose subject matter doesn't need any "adult content," why not just have the guts to keep it out? Let's have more PG movies for adults like "Hidden Figures." Because why not? Destroy the stereotype. Yes, this movie is PG. But no, it's not for kids. Not that it's inappropriate. It has a bit of mild language and that's all. It's just a movie that younger kids are going to be bored if they watch. And that's perfectly fine. We have "Moana" and "Monster Trucks" for kids. We have "Hidden Figures" for adults. All under one rating. Genius, right?
If you're wondering why your kids will be bored with this movie, it's because that most of this movie is a math movie. Parts of it do drag on a bit, but not too much. For the most part I found it fascinating. All throughout grade school we were all forced to learn math. And as we did so, the big question that many of us asked is how is this math going to be relevant to us in real life. This movie helps answer that. Most kids have a dream of being an astronaut and going to space. While a very small percentage of kids with that dream grow up to actually follow in the footsteps of John Glenn, growing up to be like Katherine Goble, using math to send people to space, is a realistic option. Maybe you don't work for NASA specifically, but there are a lot of cool job opportunities that you can have by being good at math. While math teacher is a very respectable option, that's not the only option out there and I think this movie does a fantastic job at showing us that math is cool. I'm more of a words and numbers person rather than a math person, thus I didn't understand most of their formulas and equations even though I recognized most of the symbols, but I still found it fascinating.
Overall if you haven't seen this movie yet, I'd definitely give it a shot. It got a best picture nomination as well as a best adapted screenplay nomination and the aforementioned best supporting actress nomination for Octavia and I'm certainly not upset. I think this along with "Fences" and "Moonlight" got a little extra boost at the Oscars this year due to last year's "Oscars so white" controversy and if that's the reason it got into the race, then so be it. This is an excellent movie for the Oscars to get behind that a lot of people have reacted positively to. This is a great story that I didn't know much about heading into this movie, so I appreciated the educational opportunity that this movie gave me and I also loved the focus on math. This movie made math seem cool and it showed one of many great opportunities that knowing math can provide you in life. I also liked the more low-key approach to the Civil Rights discussion as it showed a great story of what three black ladies were able to accomplish at NASA in a day and age that didn't provide them with a lot of opportunities. That was cool. In terms of Civil Rights movies, I wish "Loving" would've gotten as much attention with the general public, but I'll take this. My grade for "Hidden Figures" is a 9/10.