Hidden Figures review

Published on: January 18, 2017

Filled Under: Film, What's On

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Hidden Figures is the incredible untold true story of a group of brilliantly smart African-American women who helped NASA launch an astronaut into orbit in the 1960′s. Without their genius America probably wouldn’t have won the Space Race against the Russians.

The film centres on Katherine Goble Johnson and her two close friends, aspiring engineer Mary Jackson and informal computer supervisor Dorothy Vaughan, and their work at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia. With the Space race going into over-drive after the Russian’s successful launch of Sputnik 1, Katherine Goble Johnson is assigned to assist NASA’s Space Task Group and becomes the first African-American woman in the team. Obviously, all have their share of prejudices and sexism to deal with but ultimately their class and determination gives them their special place in history.

The film is a stark reminder that these women not only faced gender inequality but also a segregated America – which really makes this story and their achievements all the more remarkable.

The film’s three leading ladies are simply divine in their respected roles bringing warmth, humour and tenacity to these real-life pioneers. Successfully showing both their professional and personal lives honestly and sensitively. Taraji P. Henson brilliantly portrays Katherine Goble Johnson’s level-headed determination and genius that meant she was able to outsmart her peers and correctly calculate John Glenn’s orbit around Earth in 1962.

Octavia Spencer dominates the screen as a witty yet powerful Dorothy Vaughan who runs the segregated West Area Computers division of Langley Research Centre. Janelle Monáe steals scenes as the sassy and rebellious Mary Jackson, an aspiring engineer who has to fight for her right to further her education. Kevin Costner is perfectly cast as Al Harrison, the director of the Space Task Group.

Although the film tells the story well it does nothing fancy with its direction by Theodore Melfi. However, it is Pharrell Williams music that stands out, lifts and drives the film while sounding both modern and never out of place in the 1960′s setting.

It’s hard to believe it taken this long for this story to be told and for these women to be recognized for what they achieved. This film seems even more poignant at a time when it feels like we are taking a step back in civil rights. It’s great to see Hollywood making a movie that proves that female and African-American stories can hit big at the box office.

This inspiring, uplifting and emotional story will be an eye-opener to many and leave you extremely proud of three women who dreamed bigger than society deemed they should.

A must see film for 2017.

Reviewed by Ingrid Grenar & Ian Wright

4.5 stars

For your chance to see Hidden Figures as a special preview screening in Auckland on Monday 23 January at Hoyts Sylvia Park at 6.30pm simply answer the below question.

What year did John Glen become the first US astronaut to orbit the Earth?