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  • Writer's pictureGuy Jeffries

Hidden Figures Review

Director: Theodore Melfi.

Theodore Melfi gives a film about the space race back in America's 1960s where a large work force at NASA are tasked with getting someone out to space, and back again in one piece. But this isn't the actual focus of the movie and gladly so. It's a true story about the African-American women who were behind some of the vital mathematics and operations of the space program at a time where racial segregation was still a part of normal everyday life.

The film based on Margot Lee Shetterly's debut novel Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win The Space Race and is central to Katherine Johnson, an incredible physicist and mathematician who specialised in celestial navigation, basically calculating the numbers for jettisoning someone into space, keeping them there and estimating their point of reentry and landing within a pretty unknown field of variables, maths that had not been written yet.

Other characters and friends are Dorothy Vaughn, the first African-American supervisor to manage a team of staff at NASA Virginia site and Mary Jackson, NASA's first black female engineer. So, as you can see it's very much about a time of change, a change in the right direction for civil liberties in America and you can hear breaths of disappointment and shame rippled across the audience as racist slurs and uncomfortable situations occur.

Taraji P. Henson takes the lead as Katherine Johnson and does what I can only image is a great portrayal of the incredible lady as the lady herself, at 98 watched the film and approved of Hanson's performance but humbly couldn't understand why anyone would want to make a film about her! I believe Henson done her proud, but she actually takes a while to get warmed up before she launches herself into an amazing rant, possibly her defining moment.

Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe play Dorothy and Mary equally well providing good story filler that helps illustrate the turbulent time. The rest of the supporting cast too, providing excellent performances, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst and Big Bang Theory's Sheldon, sorry, I mean Jim Parsons.

I loved Melfi's St. Vincent and he does a grand job of keeping a good balanced story that had a danger of being dragged out. It's surprisingly easy-going considering the controversial subject matter with some laugh-out-moments. You should leave the cinema feeling faith in humanity is restored.

The production on the whole is superb with fitting locations, costumes and makeup. There's a good score from Hans Zimmer which has hints of his piano from Driving Miss Daisy and the vocals from Rain Man.

It's a brilliant education and quite the reminder we're still not quite on the moon when it comes to oppression and segregation, and that all this didn't happen that long ago. I actually remember watching Katherine Johnson being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedoom, presented to her by Barack Obama in 2015 but never fully understanding who she is. Well now I do and I'm glad for this film for telling the story.

As for the Oscars, it deserves the nominations definitely but sadly I don't feel they deserve the wins. Not to say it's bad, far from it but when looking at the other nominees, I can't place any of these in the winning envelope. Still an important lesson, great story and performances. A worthy watch.

Running Time: 8

The Cast: 8

Performance: 9

Direction: 8

Story: 9

Script: 8

Creativity: 8

Soundtrack: 7

Job Description: 7

The Extra Bonus Point: 0

Would I buy the Blu-ray?: Yes

72% 7/10

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