Release Date: January 6, 2017
MPAA Rating: PG (for thematic elements and some language)
When one considers films that tell the story of America’s early ventures into space, titles that come to mind may include “The Right Stuff,” and “Apollo 13.” With the release of “Hidden Figures,” we gain insight into a little known, but critical, story about the role a group of African-American women played in the early days of NASA and the successful launch into orbit of astronaut John Glenn.
Directed by Ted Melfi from a script he co-wrote with Allison Schroeder, the fact-based “Hidden Figures” sheds great light on a tremendously human component to the space race, involving both space and race.
The film features powerful performances by Taraji P. Henson as Katherine G. Johnson, Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughan, and Janelle Monáe as Mary Jackson.
Kevin Costner is strong as NASA group director Al Harrison, conveying a nice character arc during the film; and Jim Parsons turns-in a solid performance as lead engineer Paul Stafford, who is initially threatened by the mathematical talents of Johnson.
My only criticism is that the music in the soundtrack, composed by Pharrell Williams (who is also a producer of the film), Hans Zimmer, and Benjamin Wallifisch is too obvious and is often distracting to the storytelling, rather than enhancing it.
The timing of the release of this film so near to the passing of Glenn is coincidental, but appropriate.