Based on a true story. A team of African-American women provide NASA with important mathematical data needed to launch the program’s first successful space missions. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Talia J. comments, “This absolutely fantastic film will inspire so many people to never give up on their dreams and talents. It shows that you can do anything if you put your mind to it.” Arjun N. adds, “The movie has a positive message about never giving up, no matter how much of a struggle. Despite the racist behavior and the challenges of the job, the trio never give up. For example, Katherine is constantly faced with the cold behavior of her colleagues.” Tristen T. adds, “This inspirational feature film, based on a true story, captured my full-focused attention for the entire movie. Not only is it emotionally charged, but it is also historically educational. This movie is sure to give your family a lot of thought provoking conversations to have around the dinner table.” Morgan B. wraps it up with, “OK, I never have an excuse now. This inspirational movie is about three women who overcame prejudice regarding race, feminism and intelligence.” See their full reviews below.
By Talia Jacnuk, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
This absolutely fantastic film will inspire so many people to never give up on their dreams and talents. It shows that you can do anything if you put your mind to it.
The movie takes place in the 1960s where sexism and racial discrimination is still at a high. There is fear of the Soviet Union since they already have the technology to send astronauts into space, though there is still hope for America. This is a true story which revolves around three extremely intelligent African-American women – Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) and Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) who all work for the NASA program. They are the brains behind the launch of astronaut John Glenn (Glen Powell). The woman struggle with using their brilliance since they live in a world where the color of their skin defines who they are and who they are not going to be.
The acting is fabulous! Taraji P. Henson is made to play Katherine Johnson. Taraji highlights the braveness and intelligence of her character, adding a bit of a quirky side as well. I feel that I know her character like a friend. Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) is my favorite character out of them all. She has this determination in her that is mind blowing. She can be very serious at times, but one of the most hilarious people at others. Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) definitely takes on the leader role. When watching this film you feel for her struggles and want her to succeed so badly. Octavia brings boldness and sarcasm that just makes you adore her. I felt the strong friendship between these woman.
I could tell how much time was spent in designing the set and costumes. The sets are so realistic that I felt transformed into that time period. I loved looking at the small details added to each set. Renee Ehrlich Kalfus designed the costumes which are so colorful and suit each character perfectly. It is so interesting to see how different the clothes were back then. The costumes helped add to it being the 60s.
My favorite scene is when Al Harrison (Kevin Costner) breaks down the colored woman’s bathroom sign to show that everyone can share the same restroom. Al Harrison is the head of the NASA launch program. This is my favorite scene because I loved seeing someone who looked beyond the color of people’s skin.
The main message of this film is to never give up on your dreams, even when people tell you that you can’t. The three woman look beyond their gender and their skin color. They look at the talents they have. One example of this is when Katherine Johnson is talking to Jim Johnson. Jim is surprised as to why they are having a woman do such important things at NASA. Katherine retorts with an inspiring line “Yes they let women do some things at NASA Mister Johnson. And it’s not because we wear skirts. It’s because we wear glasses!” I recommend this film for ages 9 to 18. The younger audiences will enjoy learning about the past and be inspired to shoot for the stars. The older audiences will like the comedy and the amazing story. I give this film a 5 out of 5 astronaut stars. It opens in theaters on January 6, 2017 so go check it out!
By Arjun Nair, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
Hidden Figures is a very inspirational movie. The acting and the informative material impressed me tremendously and the costume design adds to the greatness of this movie.
It is based on a true story is about three African American women living in the 1960s. Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) are gifted in math and science and the three manage to work at NASA. They face many difficulties due to their color and gender. Despite working initially in the segregated computer room, the three manage to help America in the space race which was dominated by Russia. The trio also ensure the entry and the return of John Glenn (Glen Powell), who is aboard the Friendship 7 orbiting Earth.
Taraji P. Henson’s acting is extremely powerful as Katherine Johnson. She has the look of a mathematical genius. The scene where she explains her struggles to her boss is my most favorite scene in this movie and it brings out Taraji’s excellent acting. Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughn is great at both drama and comedy. Janelle Monae’s depiction of Mary Jackson as a determined and steadfast lady is excellent and believable. Kevin Costner is another standout performer as Al Harris, head of the Space Task Group. His caring nature of not being a racist is one of the sides of the character which is presented well, as well as his portrayal of always being focused on the task. Glen Powell brings charisma and respect in the famous astronaut, John Glenn.
Theordore Belfi’s direction gives the movie room for all three of the women to show their hardships and triumphs. The music, composed by Hans Zimmer and Pharrell Williams appropriately enhances the setting of the movie. The costumes, for all the characters, are well designed and really look like attire from the 1960s. My only complaint is that only Katherine Johnson gets a proper back story, explaining her past, but we don’t really learn about the background of the other two women. The movie excels at defining the contributions of all three women.
The movie has a positive message about never giving up, no matter how much of a struggle. Despite the racist behavior and the challenges of the job, the trio never give up. For example, Katherine is constantly faced with the cold behavior of her colleagues. I give this movie 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18. The youngest audience members might be a bit bored since this is an informative type of movie, but if they are interested in math, science or history, then they should go and see it. This film is available in theaters January 6, 2017, so go and check it out for an inspirational true story
By Morgan Bertsch, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12
OK, I never have an excuse now. This inspirational movie is about three women who overcame prejudice regarding race, feminism and intelligence. This is also a story about fear and change. After seeing everything these women overcame my Mom will never let me say “I Can’t” again. I learned you can overcome any obstacle.
This film is inspirational, inquisitive and all around fantastic. I love that, along with a magnificent storyline, it also talks about math, technology, NASA, women’s rights, discrimination and what life was like in the 1960s. The wonderful technologies we take for granted today were missing such as high speed computers, cell phones, social media, color TV – to name a few. While enjoying the movie I learned about history and how people were afraid of women taking their jobs, because many were threatened because of how talented and brilliant these women were. This is also the period when Martin Luther King became the speaker for Black people as a spokesperson for equal rights. We also get a behind-the-scenes look at NASA and see how they worked during that era and how they did everything without the technology that we have today.
The acting is incredible. Taraji P. Henson (Katherine Johnson) is a pure genius who can do math equations that no one else can. She is very kind at heart and brings this side of herself out in Katherine Johnson. She is powerful in her own way. People tell her that she can’t, but she does everything she can to prove them wrong and succeeds. Taraji P. Henson is perfect in this role. She puts her heart and soul into this character. By being herself, you know when she has something to say and you should listen when she talks because she speaks her mind and is always worth listening to. This is a very different role than what she plays on Empire. She is patient in this role but Cookie and Katherine have a goal and do whatever it takes to get to the finish line.
Octavia Spencer (Dorothy Vaughan) is helpful and headstrong. She overcomes many obstacles. She fears that she is going to lose her job and finds a way to educate herself as well as the other women employees so that they remain relevant to NASA. The lesson, which is relevant today, is education matters. Just by reading, she makes a lifetime career for herself doing what she loves.
Janelle Monáe (Mary Jackson) is inquisitive. She has an engineering degree, is brave and determined to accomplish her dreams. One of my favorite scenes is when she has to go to court to get permission to go to school. Kevin Costner (Al Harrison) is the Boss. He only cares about one thing, beating the Russians and getting a rocket up into space. He wants the best for NASA and the astronauts. Just his name tells you his acting is A+. Jim Parsons (Paul Stafford) is very down to earth and does everything he can to make sure that the women know they are not wanted. This is a very different role than his character on the Big Bang Theory or the animated film Home. He is actually the villain here, who dislikes working women and people of color.
The film includes pictures and videos of the original rocket ships from the 1960s. The perspective from the astronaut’s point of view is also featured. It is difficult for NASA to go into space and watching some of that actual footage reminds me that our true history and it took place not that long ago.
The Race To Space with Russia is a wonderful story. I had no idea that women were involved with NASA’s success. JFK, Martin Luther King, signs for white and black bathrooms, and protesters all add to this amazingly true storyline. Be sure to watch the end to find out what actually happened to all the characters in real life. The film is rating PG-13 but younger kids will love learning about rocket ships and how they were made. History is always easier to learn and remember when it is told in the form of a great story and this is one they will remember.
I recommend this for ages 9 to 18. You should know that there is mild profanity but, the whole story is so different from the life we have today. This film shows how much we have learned and grown since the 1960s. I found this film very interesting and intriguing and appreciate how beautifully constructed it is. Hidden Figures open nationwide January at a theater near you be sure to check out this dramatic and historical film.
By Tristan Tierce, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, 14 years old
This inspirational feature film, based on a true story, captured my full-focused attention for the entire movie. Not only is it emotionally charged, but it is also historically educational. This movie is sure to give your family a lot of thought provoking conversations to have around the dinner table.
Based on a true story, three African-American women, Mary Jackson, Katherine G. Johnson and Dorothy Vaughan, work for NASA during a time of racial tension and segregation in the 1960s. Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) became NASA’s first African-American female supervisor and self-taught FORTRAN programmer. Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) became the first African-American woman engineer and Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Hensen) was a mathematician and physicist. These three women not only helped NASA send a man to space, but carved a path for other women and African-Americans to hold high powered positions previously held only by Caucasian men.
My favorite character is Mary Jackson. Janelle Monae truly captures the spunk and tenacity of the real-life character she plays. She is inspiring, dedicated and truthful. I find it interesting that Ms. Monae’s first passion is singing and songwriting and Hidden Figures is only her second feature film as an actress, with the other being the award winning Moonlight from 2016. The only negative comment I might share is that I would have preferred some elements to be expanded within the storyline so that I could learn even more about the lives of these three women, especially my favorite character, Mary Jackson.
There are so many messages one can take from Hidden Figures, but two specifically stick out in my mind. First, that you should not allow someone else to put a ceiling on your dreams and second, that history teaches us empathy for others.
Hidden Figures has some cussing, but nothing derogatory toward another person. It is a period piece set in 1961 and based on a true story. Audiences do encounter terminology and situations that were the harsh reality at that time, so some kids may not be mature enough to understand and grasp the full message of the movie. This film is correctly rated PG and is suitable for the whole family to enjoy together. But, because of the period content, I recommend for ages 8 to 18 and give it 5 out of 5 stars.
Credit: KIDS FIRST!