Out Now On-Demand
Genius has no race, strength has no courage, courage has no limits.
Based on a true story, Hidden Figures recounts how three black American women served as the brains behind several key 1960s NASA missions. Stars Taraji P. Henson (TV's Empire), Janelle Monáe (Moonlight), and Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer (The Help).
Physicist, space scientist, and mathematician Katherine G. Johnson (Henson), along with Dorothy Vaughan (Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Monáe), were instrumental in executing one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn (Glen Powell) into orbit. It was an achievement that restored the United States' confidence, turned around the Space Race, and galvanised the world. The gifted trio crossed gender and race lines and inspired generations to dream big. Kirsten Dunst and Kevin Costner co-star.
Drama, True Story & Biography, Historical
Rating: PG Coarse language
Looking for an entertaining film starring women of colour dominating an intellectual field? Then skip this review and watch Hidden Figures right bloody now. This is the real-life tale of three African-American women who didn’t get enough credit for their contributions to NASA and the space race, making it an immensely valuable story to tell.
The cortex of the film sits with Katherine (Taraji P Henson), a mathematical prodigy who works her way into NASA’s largest calculating mind hive made up of a largely male, completely white staff. Jim Parsons plays a co-worker who is more than miffed that she could possibly be at his level (she’s actually way better), constantly stonewalling her progress and hiding behind the common excuse that it’s “just the way things are.”
Her boss, played by Kevin Costner, is more tolerant on the surface, but his inability to recognise her struggle doesn’t make him a holy white saviour. When he gets the wake-up call, he takes appropriate action, but only after Katherine calls bullshit on everyone in a hugely satisfying scene that uses Henson’s emotive skills to full capacity.
It gets deeper with Dorothy’s (Octavia Spencer) storyline, a should-be-supervisor forced to butt heads with her boss Vivian (Kirsten Dunst). Vivian is vicious, and racist, but not necessarily a vicious racist, allowing the film to expose degrees of racial intolerance that reside in everyday people.
It’s a shame the commanding Janelle Monáe as Mary feels heavily side-lined in comparison, resurfacing for a decent but laboured court case. Director Theodore Melfi doesn’t do anything to make the math mumbo jumbo seem interesting either – visually or otherwise – which has always been a problem for movies about amazing science nerds. His workmanlike approach – ironically – holds back this otherwise incredible workwomen tale.
The Guardian (UK)
The New Yorker
Los Angeles Times
New York Times
Stuff.co.nz (Graeme Tuckett)
RadioNZ (Dan Slevin)
Such an inspiring and heart-warming story that needed to be told.
This film was amazing! It was such an important story to be told, especially in a time of increased insular nationalism and racism in the world. What these three women did was truly amazing. The cast of this film was great too. One of my best films ever!
Triumph of determination and not standing for any bs
Can't speak more highly of this film, outstanding in every respect and who knew I could love a film that is essentially about math , I know I was blown away. Amazing and deserves every accolade. Watch it now!!
FABULOUS FEME FLICK
A number one for the grown girls who love to watch True Stories, although my husband enjoyed it too .. Great story line and actors, I really enjoyed
This was just a great story that I can't believe has taken 51 years to get to the screen. The characters were great, acted well and told without any American sentimentalisation.
A feel-good bio-pic about a remarkable episode in history.
Before the feminist era, written history was mostly about men while women were by-lines and coloured women non-existent. In the past several decades, women have been reclaiming their place in history and the film Hidden Figures (2016) is part of this cultural change. It is a story that celebrates the achievements of a hitherto un-acknowledged group of women who were called ‘coloured computers’ before the first mainframe IBM was ready for NASA in the 1960s.
Based on real events, the film is set against the Cold War and the frantic race between America and Russia to put the first man on the Moon. More than space science, it was about competing political systems and bragging rights for aeronautical supremacy. The story centres on three gifted coloured women who joined the space program: mathematician Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) audits the calculations of white male scientists and devises new mathematical solutions for trajectory calculations; Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) teaches herself complex Fortran code to become the expert on the IBM computer and NASA’s first coloured supervisor; and Mary Johnson (Janelle Monae) wins the right to enrol in a segregated engineering course to become NASA’s first coloured female engineer. The trio are part of a scientific group that is under immense political pressure to achieve the successful manned spaceflight which became astronaut John Glenn’s space legacy.
The historical facts frame the story but it is the treatment of the facts that makes the film interesting. It could have been a tense drama or dry bio-pic but instead it is full of comedic moments and under-stated racial vignettes. For example, on her first day Katherine is mistaken for a janitor and all the coloured women must walk half a mile to use the segregated bathroom. Despite the best available “white brains” only a coloured woman can work out the new IBM computer and astronaut John Glenn will not ‘lift off’ unless Katherine first checks the IBM trajectory calculations. The ironies are not designed to get laughs, but to show how even the nation’s finest scientific minds were locked into systemic racial discrimination in a NASA culture that was blind to its own prejudices.
This is a great film on many levels. As a bio-pic, it carries the weight of history in telling a story that must be told. The acting is outstanding, with a perfect balance between depicting the ugly side of racial oppression and the women’s determination to contribute to aeronautical science. Character development is on the light side as the focus is not on personality but on achievement. The trio of stars all portray dignity under duress and their repressed anger saves the film from turning into a lecture. It achieves what any bio-pic drama can hope for: it offers feel-good entertainment while informing about a remarkable episode in history.
Just an all round great movie
You've got history and tech and adversity and great clothes and cars and drama drama drama and wonderful female leads and layers of story and smart dialogue. It's a story, I'm sure it isn't 100 percent accurate but I reckon they have the bones of it. It can be hard to see movies about inequality but this movie is not at all hard and, in the current political climate, its a good thing it is avaiable to American movie goers. Go see it and enjoy.
Hidden Figures is surprisingly good, I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. An entertaining, crowd-pleasing film about a team of African-American women who were the brains behind launching NASA's first successful space missions. It's a conventional biopic but I never lost interest and the three lead performances are very good. Grade: B
Back story is more facinating than those
who front events. Human, funny and engaging
Go see it and take the kids with you.
Having recently seen Rogue 1 and then having watched Hidden Figures I can see why this is out-performing the competition at the US box office; it's just a better movie on lots of levels. This is an inspiring story and very pertinent to our time when recent events have left many feeling somewhat despondent about the state of American culture and it's ramifications, possible and actual, on us here in Aotearoa. This is an inspiring story of triumph in the face of adversity told with style, humour and beauty, and mercifully free of digital special effects. Go see your your local cinema management and ask them to just get it and then go see it, with the kids. You'll all enjoy it.