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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Films for Black History Month
by Betty Jo Tucker

In keeping with the celebration of Black History Month, below are three films reviewed by our critics for your consideration. Diana Saenger loves HIDDEN FIGURES, and you will see why in her excellent critique. James Colt Harrison admires HARRIET for finally giving movie fans a biopic about courageous Harriet Tubman. And yours truly thinks ALI showcases Will Smith’s considerable acting talents in the role of Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali. Here are excerpts from each review:

HIDDEN FIGURES focuses on an elite team of African-American mathematicians at NASA. These well-educated women had a mission to gain equal rights and opportunities -- and they didn’t give up. After taking jobs at NASA, they played key roles in NASA’s 1069 Project Mercury, the first Apollo 11 launch to the moon with John Glenn (Glenn Powell).”  

“The film stars Taraji P. Henson as Katherine Johnson, Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughan, and Janelle Monáe as Mary Jackson…This cast is amazing. Each actor brings her character to life on screen.” 

“Hidden Figures is inspiring and perfectly directed by Theodore Melfi (St. Vincent),”

Read Diana Saenger’s entire review at this link:


“When the Civil War was fought between the North and South from 1861 to 1865, HARRIET Tubman jumped right in and worked for the Union Army as a cook and a nurse. Seeing she had additional talents, she was asked to be a spy as well. During this time, her efforts helped liberate more than 700 slaves”

“Taking on the part of Ms. Tubman is Cynthia Erivo, a welcome transfer from England, where she was born in 1987. Just becoming known in the US, Ms. Erivo startled theater goers with her portrayal as Celie in the 2015 Broadway production of “The Color Purple,” for which she won the Tony Award as Best Actress in a Musical and a Grammy for the cast album and many other kudos.”  

“Harriet Tubman was a true pioneer in the fight for human rights for all, but especially for Blacks and women.”

Read James Colt Harrison’s entire review at this link:


“I believe that Will Smith practically transforms himself into ALI. He went from 185 pounds to 220 pounds for this athletic role and allowed his ears to be taped down. The former Fresh Prince is hardly recognizable here. However, more important than the physical changes are the different speech patterns and mannerisms adopted by the popular actor in his portrayal of The Champ. I found Smith especially effective in scenes where he tosses off those humorous Don Rickles-type insults at opponents. This is the Ali I remember most during his heyday.”

Although Ali’s conversion to Islam, his relationship to Malcolm X, his battle against the draft during the Vietnam War, his womanizing problems, and his will to win --- all receive jumbled attention, this film is worth seeing because of Smith’s outstanding performance.

Read my complete review at this link:

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