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Punches all my buttons: segregation, space, engineering, computers
steven-leibson7 January 2017
I'm an engineer. I designed computers, I grew up in the south during the 1950s and 1960s. I was heavily involved in the space race at an early age and watched every launch and recovery on black-and-white TV. I never saw separate restrooms and drinking fountains for "colored" but they were there. I never rode on segregated public buses, but they were there and I knew it. This movie, "Hidden Figures," brings all of these worlds back to me. No, it's not a painstakingly accurate picture. NASA didn't have flat-panel screens back then. Communications between the ground and the Mercury capsules were not static-free. But a lot of this movie feels real. Very real.

The protagonists in this movie are three women of color working in one of the most unwelcoming environments they might hope to find: NASA Langley, Virginia, in 1961. As women, they were employed as human "computers" because they were less expensive and they got their numbers right. As "colored" folk, they got their own separate (and sparse) restrooms and their own, separate dining facilities. This was not America's shining hour, even in some place as lofty as NASA.

At the same time, civil unrest was rising in the towns. This is the time of Martin Luther King's rise to prominence. It's a time just before the rise of militant civil rights groups. It's a time when resistance to segregation and discrimination was still civil, but as the movie shows, that resistance was beginning to firm up and become widespread.

There are several reasons to see this movie: from a civil rights perspective; from a feminism perspective; from the perspective of the early space race when we lagged the Soviet Union, badly. If you lived during this time, see the movie to remember. If you were born later, see this movie to see what things were like.
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Powerful and Inspiring
ethanbresnett14 December 2020
Hidden Figures is a real gem of a film.

First and foremost this is down to some incredible performances. Taraji P Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae were an absolute joy to watch. From the very first scene with all three of them on screen together, you just knew the film was going to be something special. All three of them were fantastic and I couldn't take my eyes off of them. The supporting cast were also great, but it really was all about these three talented actresses smashing it.

The story is something very special too. It was one I knew nothing about, but am so glad I now know more about it thanks to this film. Hidden Figures tracks the careers of three women working at NASA at the height of the space race. The film is so inspiring as we witness their perseverance, their incredible spirit and talent, and their pioneering impact on humanity's exploration of space. This alone would have been impressive, but these women were able to achieve what they did in the face of gut wrenching sexism and racism. Hidden Figures does such a good job of shining a light on the racism and despicable attitudes that these women had to face, and as a result is a pretty tough watch at times.

What also makes this film very special is the expertly crafted script. If, like me, you have no idea about science and maths, don't let that put you off. The script does a great way of simplifying things, so that you can appreciate the gravity and importance of what these women were doing, without getting bogged down in heavy exposition.

I really could not recommend this film enough. Everything about it fits together so perfectly, from the direction to the acting to the score, its just such a good well rounded film.

Watch Hidden Figures ASAP! You will not be disappointed.
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Major Feel-Good Movie, just gets better as it goes along
A_Different_Drummer12 January 2017
In the opinion of this reviewer, an extraordinary achievement.

The characters on which the film is based were special and unique on their own, and well deserving of the sort of semi-documentary films that Hollywood likes to serve up.

However, to take that story and bump it up to a major "feel-good film" that engages the viewer from the getgo and does not let up until the very end of its 2 hour and 5 minute running time, THAT is what elevates this project to greatness.

I want to be clear on this because it is important. There are two ways to do a feel-good film. One is (ironically!) by the numbers, using proved plot arcs and other script devices to make it work. An example of this for example is the latest Disney release MOANA which has taken some heat from critics for being derivative and not original. But that, you see, is the tried and true method to achieve the effect that the producers wanted. And it works.

The other way to make a film engaging and fun is to use your instincts and your actors to get the most from each scene. No rule book, no fixed way of doing a scene, just doing what works. This is, I believe the way that writer/director Theodore Melfi set out to do Hidden Figures, and boy did he pull it off! The acting is stellar. Costner has matured in his latest film roles and his work here is as far from the nonsense he used to do (like the dreaded Robin Hood) as the earth is from the sun.

Taraji P. Henson finally lands a great role, the kind of role she was looking for when she left the hit series Person of Interest a tad early.

And every good film or TV series needs a character who is "the glue" or a reference point that the viewer can use, like a compass needle, to see where we are in the main story. Here Octavia Spencer gives the performance of her life as that "glue" and helps the director to pace the film.

Highly recommended.
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It made for an old-fashioned movie going experience...
AlsExGal22 January 2017
This is the true story of three African-American women who worked for NASA on the Mercury program in the early 1960s. Solid performances by all, some laugh-out-loud scenes, and some very emotional moments. It's also an important look back at the civil rights issues of the time period. The climax is a bit Apollo 13ish, and I'm fairly certain some scenes were embellished, but who cares. You should walk away from this film smiling, maybe even a bit choked up.

And in spite of it being an overall positive experience, I could feel the oppression at certain points - Dorothy at the library just trying to find the right book, but it is in a part of the library to which she cannot gain admittance due to her race. Mary being reminded that she must sit in the back of the court room, again because of her race. Katherine runs across campus just to find a bathroom that she is allowed to use and never once complaining about it until she is publicly berated about her use of time. Kevin Costner's character appears to be a generally good person who doesn't care about race, and yet still never even thought about the difficulty of being forced into a certain bathroom half a mile away.

You don't need to understand the mathematics to enjoy the film, but I admit, it was fun to hear some concepts I haven't heard since my college days.

The theater was almost full, with people of all ages. I was particularly happy to see some kids there, as there is much for them to take away from this film.

Twice during the movie the audience broke into applause, and then applauded at the end credits as well. I don't recall the last time I heard that at a film. And most importantly - I did not see a cell phone light up the whole time - truly a miracle.
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Appropriately inspiring.
planktonrules29 December 2017
"Hidden Figures" came out several months ago and there are already quite a few reviews for it. Because of this, I don't plan on saying a lot.

The film is the story of some inspiring black women who worked in the space program during an era when black women were highly marginalized. The acting is terrific and the production all around is well made and enjoyable. Not surprisingly, the movie did well in the box office and no doubt you'll have a nice time if you see the film.

Do I have any quibbles? Well, a few details here and there were changed to make the story more cinematic...which is the norm for Hollywood films and something I can look past since the story is essentially true.
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Don't let "Hidden Figures" be a hidden treasure!
dave-mcclain13 January 2017
Appreciation. It's a condition which requires information and understanding and results in increased compassion, acceptance and inclusiveness. There are few ways to enhance appreciation for others more effectively than a well-made movie and the 2016 historical drama "Hidden Figures" (PG, 2:07) takes full advantage of that opportunity. Without being too busy or too preachy, this film helps the audience better appreciate the struggles of being a minority – and a working woman (and even a mother working outside the home) – in the early 1960s, the pressure involved in competing with the Soviet Union in the early years of the space race, the difficult challenges surrounding getting man into space (and returning him safely to earth) for the first time and the courage it required of those who were willing to go. That's a lot for one movie – and might be too much for many – but "Hidden Figures" is up to the challenge.

The film is an adaptation of Margot Lee Shetterly's book of the same name and follows three black women who worked in NASA's computer section in 1961. That's not to say that they worked on computers – THEY were the computers. Back when electronic computers (with only a fraction of the capacity and speed of today's mainframes) took up an entire room – and were just beginning to be installed in places like NASA – talented mathematicians did calculations for the space program by hand.

Dorothy Vaughn (Oscar winner Octavia Spencer) is a mathematician who is also mechanically-inclined, develops a talent for programming IBM computers and is a natural leader, but is denied a well-deserved supervisory position by NASA culture – and her supervisor (Kirsten Dunst). Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) is a brilliant mathematician who struggles to balance the demands of her increasing responsibilities at NASA with caring for her three young daughters whose father has passed away. Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) is an outspoken aspiring engineer who is held back from becoming an actual engineer because of her lack of education, which she has difficulty overcoming because of segregation.

All three women make progress in their attempts to reach their goals and fulfill their potential, but with much difficulty, based on their gender and their race. Dorothy has been managing the women of the computer section for some time, but has to fight for the title and the pay – and even takes it upon herself to learn more about NASA's newly-arrived IBM computer, while understanding that doing so could eventually cost her and her co-workers their jobs. Mary continues to make valuable contributions to NASA's efforts, while trying to work through the catch-22 of needing additional education to become an engineer, with the only nearby school offering such classes refusing to accept any black students.

But most of the screen time belongs to Katherine's story. As the most talented mathematician of all of NASA's human computers, she is called up to work in NASA's Space Task Group where she works directly with the standoffish Paul Stafford (Jim Parsons) and is supervised by the group's director, Al Harrison (Kevin Costner). Even as Katherine continues to demonstrate her capabilities, she is still subjected to drinking coffee from a pot labeled "Colored" and having to walk 20 minutes (each way) to the building where the nearest restroom for black females is located. Eventually, she earns the respect of her peers – and comes to the attention of astronaut John Glenn (Glen Powell) himself, who comes to trust her calculations above all others. Katherine also attracts a different kind of attention from the commander of a local Army Reserve base, Lt. Col. Jim Johnson (Mahershala Ali), who is also single. Embodying the dual meaning of the movie's title, Katherine works out the hidden figures needed for Glenn's mission and Jim doesn't mind that her figure is hidden beneath those unflattering 1960s dresses, as he comes to care more about her heart – and the very sharp mind hidden behind her even less flattering eye glasses.

"Hidden Figures" is a marvelously entertaining film. The script adaptation by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi tells its true story accurately and engagingly, weaving its many story lines together seamlessly, educating and entertaining their audience throughout. Melfi also directs and uses his talented and award-worthy cast to thrill us, to make us cheer and give us moments of humor and just plain fun. I was impressed at how much this movie packed in without seeming cluttered, how much it affected me emotionally without being manipulative, and how much appreciation I gained for these women, their struggles and the importance of the times in which they lived and accomplished so much. It's also surprising that so little has been widely known about these women – until now. Don't let "Hidden Figures" be a hidden treasure. See it soon! It's… out of this world. "A+"
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I can identify with this movie
gp-1346818 July 2017
My grandson advised me to watch this movie. I'm not much of a movie watcher but was greatly impressed with the movie. I was employed by a major company in the late 60's This movie occurred a little before that. I was actually a teen when John Glen took his trip into space. I and many other blacks had no knowledge of this crew of women and how they contributed to the NASA project. In the late 60's, there were race riots and lots of racial conflicts. I remember in my senior year, Westinghouse Electric was located in a black community but had no black employees. They came to the black high schools and wanted the top 3 stenographers from each school to apply to their company. This was based on efforts from the community to hire black employees. We were tested. We all had to have 3.8-4.0 QPA's and be able to type 80-100 words per minute and transcribe at 100 wpm. I was 1 of the lucky ones. I had an academic diploma with business classes as my minor. Ten women were hired. I was so excited. But the minute I walked out on the floor, all eyes were on me. There were no black/white bathrooms, but we were pushed to the back of the line and not allowed to use the mirrors until all the white girls had left the restrooms. It wasn't a rule, but we were shoved to the back. We were laughed at and talked about in front of our faces. But under no circumstances was I going to allow somebody else to take this job away from me. We took it! We were treated like we were from a 3rd world country. The white girls didn't even know how to change the typewriter ribbons. Their typing speeds only had to be 45-50 to get in. Shucks, I had to be the best! I was awed to have typed on the IBM Selectric typewriter. The same one in the movie! But we had to care for their machines as well as our own. In high school we only had manuals. Eventually I went to Univ of Pgh. to study accounting at night. I took all of the courses required to get out of the steno pool, but was consistently turned down 10 years trying to become an Accounting Clerk. While whites with less education and less seniority were chosen over and over again over me. I had to type for the controller, because of my super fast, error free statistical typing skills while his secretary filed her nails and poured coffee. Of course, I was never paid what she made. To make a long story short, we black women stayed. Some of us for 40 years. It took years before we were looked at like humans--before people would talk to us, eat at the same lunch table, sometimes they would make us wait last to get on the elevators to go home. But over the course of 10- 40 years, we earned that respect. We did become manager secretaries. We did earn engineering degrees at night and worked our way up. We did end up with white women becoming our best friends. We became their bridesmaids instead of their maids. We went to their parties, instead of cleaning up after the parties. This movie may make some people uncomfortable, and perhaps you don't believe it was like that for smart black women, actually any black person. But believe me, I am a living witness at age 67 to recall the bigotry and hatred I once experienced as a young woman 18 years old, only to retire from the company with much respect. Many of my friends that started when I started, are still in touch. We always laugh and say "We were the first." Because we knocked down those walls of prejudice and differences and created a path for people of all colors to follow. I loved the movie. I only wished that those women had been recognized a little sooner for their contributions to the NASA PROJECT. The portrayal of bigotry and indifference is real. It really did happen in the 60's. As a child I remember the black/white bathrooms--not being allowed in Howard Johnson's on the turnpike and going shopping in the department store via the back warehouse door. Katherine was older than me. Did she run almost a mile to the bathroom? Maybe, maybe not. But don't judge this movie based on that. Some real prejudices were worse than that. History cannot be changed, only learned about. I am proud to be a part of that growing history along with Katherine.
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Not a film to remain hidden
TheLittleSongbird17 May 2018
Wanted to see as many 2016 films as possible, especially those that won or were nominated for the big awards. 'Hidden Figures' also had the further interest on being based on an incredible true story, with just as incredible people, set during a very interesting and still hard-hitting period of history.

'Hidden Figures' was one of the best-received films of the year critically and it is not hard to see why. Not saying that it's perfect or one of my favourites of all time, and it won't work, and has not worked, for everybody. Can definitely see the criticisms directed against it, or at least a few of them. There are a lot of exceptional elements here too that make it an illuminating and entertaining film that is hard to dislike regardless of any factual inaccuracies and distortions.

The film is very well made, beautifully shot with the 60s setting recreated and evoked expertly. The direction keeps things moving while giving some breathing space, allowing the character interaction and situations to shine through (and shine through they do) and making the most of the story and period. The music is a dynamic fit.

Particularly good here are the performances, with Octavia Spencer and especially Taraji P. Henson giving two of the year's best performances. Kirsten Dunst is given her meatiest material in years and her performance is one of her best, likewise with Kevin Costner. The three lead characters are ones you root for all the way, ones you laugh with, are moved by and are inspired by. Katherine in particular.

Much of the script sparkles in sharpness, wit and insight. Parts are amusingly absurd which provides a levity that stops the film from becoming overly-serious. Parts make one reach for the tissues. Parts make one angry in a way that is appropriate. And throughout a great job is done honouring these characters while not making them complete saints.

Not everything works. The colleague characters, though acted very well, are nowhere near as interesting or well developed. They are instead too one-dimensional and pat, with only Costner's character showing a glimpse of any kind of an open mind.

It does get a little heavy-handed, a hard trap to avoid with the subject matter and period and credit is due not trivialising segregation. Especially true in most of the characterisation being too neat, parts that are a little preachy and the coloured bathroom running gag getting a little repetitive. Personally wouldn't call 'Hidden Figures' offensive, more that subtlety isn't a strong suit.

Overall, very well done, not a film to remain hidden and does inspire to read more about the story, the characters and the period. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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Evident Heroism, Hidden Doubts
svorva18 January 2017
This is one of those "based on true events" films that the moment you return from the theater you're going to hop on the internet and explore the story. That's a good sigh. Unfortunately, here the need to do some fact checking might not stem from all the right reasons.

Hidden Figures is an upbeat, inspiring tale about the role three African-American women played in the NASA program during the early 60's. First Katherine Johnson (Henson), our lead, a gifted mathematician and human computer trying to carve out a roll in the Space Test Group. Second, Dorothy Vaughan (Spencer), leader of the "colored computers." She wants both the supervisor title she deserves and to survive the transition to IBM's mechanical computers. Finally Mary Jackson (Monae), who is trying to overcome discriminatory policies to become NASA's first female engineer. These women must meet challenges in the workplace then return home to more struggles African-Americans were fighting nationwide.

Having the performances to anchor your character drama goes along way. Henson is solid, but Spencer is Oscar worthy and Monae's performance is part of a spectacular 2016. I will be on the lookout for more from this talent. Kudos to the supporting roles played by Ali and Costner. Beyond the highlight performances, the scenario is well worth a shot. We have seen heroes fighting against segregation. We have seen space race movies. The mix presents America at its finest and most appalling. A cute combo. The woman at the core are also very deserving of a chance in the sun. The problems creep in with presentation. The director/writer Melfi and co-writer Schroeder were clearly unsatisfied with the quiet, real nobility with which these woman conducted themselves. I cannot say if what the creators did is ethical, but the addition of obviously manufactured drama was a damning decision. This leads to some awkward trust issues. After watching some Hollywood like Johnson erupting at her boss's boss, it becomes more difficult to believe in the little things. Did Johnson really need to run a half a mile just to use the restroom? Or even the climax. On the day of the launch, did John Glenn trust Johnson's calculations over the IBM? It turns out only one of these inclusions are factual. Not the one you think, and perhaps the true story demonstrates more bravery.

I'm not going to share any more of my digging here. Others asked the same questions and the answers are readily available. The point is after I watched Hidden Figures I wanted to learn if I had been lied too. Sad, because doubts are not what stories this wonderful deserve. Beyond this major stumble, Hidden Figures is well worth anyone's time. Educational, but entertaining. Positive without preachy. Family friendly in a genuine way. At the theater, I sat next to a nineish year old who kept asking her mother questions. The daughter was interested and wanted to follow every detail. The mother gave brisk answers not wanting to miss a moment. That's a true event, I swear, and the best praise for Hidden Figures I can muster.
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Excellent Performances Highlight Nice Drama
Michael_Elliott21 February 2017
Hidden Figures (2016)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

Katharine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) are three black women working at NASA where they face certain segregation issues. When Russia gets a man into space, the U.S. kick it up a gear and Katharine is selected to help due to her math skills and soon all three women are breaking new ground.

HIDDEN FIGURES tells a true story and the title certainly fits because I'm going to guess that a lot of people weren't aware of who these three women were. Everything a film comes out that is based on a true story some people break out the tired "it isn't 100% accurate" debates. Well, this movie isn't a documentary. It's a docu-drama so it's obvious that certainly things are going to be altered for dramatic purposes so attacking the film for changing a few things is just silly.

As far as the film goes, it's certainly a crowd-pleaser as you get a terrific story, three strong women to look up to and of course some great performances. The performances are certainly the key to the film's success because the screenplay offers up all three characters a lot of development and thankfully the actors pull off their parts. Henson certainly deserved an Oscar-nomination that was robbed by Meryl Streep. She certainly gives one of the best, the strongest and one of the most emotionally powerful performances of the year. I'm willing to bet years from now her performance will still be remembered while Streep's is forgotten.

The supporting cast is terrific as well with Spencer once again delivering a very good performance in the role of a woman who pretty much allows herself to walked over until she sees what standing up can do. Monae is also wonderful in her supporting bit and offers up some much needed comedy relief. Kirsten Dunst is also very good in her role as an obvious racist. Then you've got Kevin Costner offering up his strongest performance in years as Katharine's boss who is willing to break rules to get the job done.

HIDDEN FIGURES is technically very impressive with a rousing score, some great cinematography and plenty of nice direction throughout. If you're a fan of mainstream movies meant to make you stand up a cheer then you've got a winner here.
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there's effort involved
lee_eisenberg8 May 2017
I had never known the story of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson before "Hidden Figures" got released. Even if it's hard for the viewer to follow the scientific lingo, it's still a fascinating story, as the three women fight tooth and nail to both help with NASA's space program and for acknowledgment of their contributions. I saw a correlation between the fact that landing a man on the moon was a major effort that we could nonetheless achieve, and the fact that taking on institutionalized racism required a lot of effort but was still an achievable goal. Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe portray the women as individuals who simply wanted to be able to support their families but also figured out how to contribute to NASA's work. These were some brave women. You may recall that Henson, Spencer and Monáe brought the real Katherine Johnson out on the stage when they presented an Academy Award.

Also appearing are Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Mahershala Ali (of "Moonlight", in which Monáe also co-starred), and even Jim Parsons in a role not too different from Sheldon Cooper. I guess that his character is a stern, socially competent Sheldon.

All in all, it's a fine movie. Maybe not the ultimate masterpiece (and there's the question of accuracy), but I recommend it.
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Really Good Movie
nadrojh6 May 2017
Hidden Figures is a really good movie. I never read Margot Lee Shetterly's book, but I might now. This is a wonderful movie about civil rights, space travel, and new technology. It pulls in many different characters and personalities. Theodore Melt did a wonderful job directing. The story focus on the technical aspects. However the movie is never slow, it keeps moving and keeps you interested. The casting was good. Octavia Spencer, Taraji Henson, Janelle Mona, and Kevin Costner did an incredible job. There was also wonderful performances by Jim Parsons and Kirsten Dunst. Hidden Figures is a fun and exciting movie about advancement in ideas and technology. Its is also a very uplifting movie about bravery and taking chances. It is really good. I enjoyed it.
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Excellent representation of the 60's
pamma0913 January 2017
A well told story of the 60's - fashion, seriousness of the space competition, but more importantly the contributions of 3 women in a time where they were not even given the credit of having a brain. Why this has not been known for many, many years - that is a sad state. Thank heaven the daughter wrote the book and these women will have the credit they so deserved. A good showing of the discrimination shown the black people in the 60's - it was well represented but the story took front page. I love these women - they were mothers, wives and eventually recognized as experts in their field of math and coding. I grew up in the late 50 and 60's - so impressive that the three did not let anything hold them back. They did it quietly and with respected results - but this story should have been told in the 60's. The acting is excellent, the sets are so believable, the culture is there - thank you Theodore Malfi for a an entertaining and educational film. And Pharrell for the music.
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Stellar biopic, albeit with Hollywood upgrades
Top_Dawg_Critic8 March 2020
All star casting and performances, excellent cinematography and directing, stellar biopic, albeit with Hollywood upgrades in the writing. Score and runtime on point but pacing could've been a little faster
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Engaging Story of Endurance
Hitchcoc28 January 2017
This film gives us a set of characters that I never knew existed. They were women involved as "computers" during the early days of the space program. We get to know each of them a bit. Unfortunately, they are defined a bit too much by their work. It would have been interesting to get into more of the day to day pressures they experienced when they were not at NASA. With that said, it still is interesting to see what went on and how they strove for dignity and acceptance in the face of racial prejudice. Of course, NASA was (is) in the South, so hanging over everything are all the things that those who simply lived normal lives had to deal with. I understand that the whole thing with running to the bathroom was fiction. But it made a point. The writing on the blackboard and standing on a ladder is visual, but it was more likely done in notebooks or on pieces of paper. Did an entire group of these women march into the IBM computer room and take over? Probably not en masse. But I gave it a nine because it was a hallmark in showing us what these ladies, who were every bit as competent as their white counterparts, had to do to get respect. The movie is touching and exciting. I was pleased to see the events surrounding John Glenn's historic flight. I remember as a high school kid, how much we feared for his fate. The performers are quite delightful in their own ways. I thought the relationships with the husbands and husbands to be were a bit too contrived, but that's fine. We weren't there. See this movie.
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Exceptional, Jarring, and Thought-Provoking Unsung Heroes
valen06012 January 2017
Not knowing what to expect, I checked out to see how the story of three female individuals made a difference at NASA back in 1961. I've witnessed in past historical dramas of where racism included violence, but that is not the case regarding Hidden Figures. Rather it focused more on how it was overcome in casual, everyday life (especially the workplace).

The story revolves around three brilliant African-American women by the names of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson as they live their lives working at NASA among a nearly all-white staff. Despite segregation still circulating at the time, each of them proved that no matter what color they were, it's their intellect and willpower that got them through each obstacle of the day and also helped make history for astronaut John Glenn to be the first American astronaut to completely orbit the Earth.

With an interesting balance of wit and drama, I found its tribulations to be the main focus. Since the movie was based on true events, to me it felt like a wonderful tie-in to the 2014 drama "Selma" since that too revolved around a time when people marched to spread the word of ending segregation. But unlike Selma where black people and Dr. Martin Luther King fought for the right to vote, Hidden Figures tackled both the obstacles of racism and even sexism in of all places NASA. It was very jarring to see that despite the characters' extensive knowledge in their work and upon receiving their own respective degrees in their studies, it's still looked down upon by the self- righteous higher-ups. Taraji P. Henson (Empire) sure brought out a splendid performance as mathematician Katherine Johnson. Likewise for her costars Octavia Spencer (The Help) and Janelle Monae as they helped balance the drama, including sass to boot. Kevin Costner and 'Big Bang Theory' star Jim Parsons also helped give some depth (though I wouldn't call them antagonists) in these women's lives.

Personally, I enjoyed the events that unfolded overall. When it came to the racial undertones and confrontations in a few scenes, myself and a few others in the theater old or young were left curious and appalled at the same time by how this was a thing in the 1960s compared to the present. It's sure to go far with various accolades.

The moral: If you put your mind to it, things can be accomplished no matter how many would say otherwise.
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A film so concerned with being a political statement that it forgets to be a good film.
trublu21529 December 2016
Hidden Figures tells the story of three African American women in the late sixties as they become instrumental to NASA in putting John Glen on the moon. Directed by Theodore Melfi and stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Kevin Costner and Kirstin Dunst, Hidden Figures would be a good film had it not been so concerned with the idea of the empowerment of women that it forgot to be a good, engaging film. It has the proper ingredients to become a heavy hitter but trades it in using its excellent cast as more of a political statement than anything else.

The film starts off by introducing us to Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson (Henson, Spencer and Janelle Moàne) in almost the exact same ways. We see that Katherine is a number cruncher and a brilliant woman all around...then the exact same character traits are rehashed for Spencer and Moàne's characters. There is nothing different between the women, there are 3 of the same character in one film. The only difference between the three is Taraji P. Henson's excellent performance that makes her thoroughly enjoyable throughout a film that would have been a direct-to-digital film otherwise. The film does very little to give any development to these women and keeps drowning us in the notion that "this is girl power." It became extremely redundant after awhile and left me waiting for the film to get serious but it never did. This is a film that is more about what the characters did rather than how and why they did it.

Overall, Hidden Figures is a bland film with paper thin characters that tries to make more of a political statement rather than make a good film. This is a perfect example of political climate affecting creative endeavors. If there were anything I could say it is: if you're going to see the film, see it for no other reason than Taraji P. Henson's excellent performance. Taking her out of this film in any way, shape or form would have probably stopped this film in the development process but then again, maybe that is where this should have stayed.
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Very uplifting and inspiring and one that I do highly recommend. One the family can, and probably should all watch together
cosmo_tiger10 April 2017
"Look around. We are already living the impossible." Katherine Johnson (Henson) is one of the smartest mathematicians in the world. She works as a computer for NASA at the height of the space race. Needing to answer back after Russia sent Sputnik into space the US is readying to send a man into space, but are struggling with finding a way to bring him home. It ultimately took a group of unlikely employees to accomplish the mission and show the world what America is capable of. This is a movie that I have heard nothing but good things about since it was released. When a movie is talked about as much as this and in such a positive light it is difficult for it to live up to the hype, usually. This one came close. I will admit this wasn't really what I expected though. I really expected this to focus more on the racial tensions that the women went though. While that did play a large part in this it seemed that that aspect was an afterthought. I'm not saying that's a bad thing though. The movie seemed to focus more on Johnson and the others proving themselves through her job to the point of being needed, regardless of gender or skin color. That is a lesson everyone needs to learn. As for the movie itself. It is very uplifting and inspiring and one that I do highly recommend. One the family can, and probably should all watch together. Overall, I can easily see why this was up for best picture and I do highly recommend this. I give this a high B+.
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Three Afro-American Genius in NASA
claudio_carvalho26 March 2017
In the 60's, the Afro-American mathematicians Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) work in NASA performing important roles in the race of the United State against Russia to conquer the space. They face the segregation everywhere but their brilliance help the safe return of astronaut John Glenn (Glen Powell) back to Earth among other achievements.

"Hidden Figures" tells the story of three Afro-American Genius in NASA in a shameful period of segregation. The film is warm-hearted and the cast has inspired performances. It is beautiful to see the recognition of the importance of these three women some fifty and something years later and tell the world. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Estrelas Além do Tempo" ("Stars Beyond Time")
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if you are a hammer, everything is a nail, this is revisionist history
joeyford-5534229 August 2019
It didn't happen like this at all. there were no separate bathrooms. the prejudice wasn't there so strong. it is all told to make you feel like you are watching ROOTS. this is from someone whose best friend had a dad at NASA at this time. Silly movie made for award shows.
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"The Way Things Are."
rmax30482310 September 2017
A necessary reminder of days gone by and why resentment still lingers. It's 1961 in one of those bureaucratic offices in the NASA research center at Langley, Virginia. Since it's 1961 in Virginia, all the facilities are segregated by law, including office buildings, rest rooms, and drinking fountains.

Well, there are about two dozen African-American ladies who are more than usually smart and serve as "computers" -- ie., human beings who do math by hand -- and their African-American supervisor is the cooperative and relatively restrained Olivia Spencer. Their immediate boss is the very polite, very Southern, very racist Kirsten Dunst, whose name means "haze" in German. (I just threw that in because I had to learn it in a painful German class and saw no reason why you shouldn't suffer a little too over the word. Now we both know, and you've paid the lesser price, believe me.)

Where was I? Yes, in 1961 NASA didn't even have the most elementary of technical facilities and these ladies are really math whizzes -- one especially, Taraji P. Henson, is even more knowing than the rest and is recruited by the director, Kevin Costner, into the sanctum sanctorum of the board room, which she enter boldly, where no "Negro" has gone before. The all-white male staff don't greet her. They simply stare in disbelief. Casting has made the right choices in all cases. None of the ladies is a glamour girl, although I wouldn't have minded Beyoncé in a prominent role, come to think of it.

Costner, however, is indifferent to the staff's response, just as he's indifferent to the indignities these human computers are suffering. As one of the ladies puts it, "He only thinks about numbers." So naturally when Costner chews out Henson for so often being out of the office, she shoots back with a couple of reasons why: the rest rooms in the building are segregated, and when she has to visit the bathroom she must run to the nearest colored bathroom in a building a quarter of a mile away, rain or shine. Costner take a crowbar to the "Whites Only" bathroom and demolishes it. The Russians are ahead of us in the space race, so let's not leave our desks any more than we have to, and by the way, let's work late without pay. And no more of this racist stuff.

The film goes on to trumpet the very real talents and achievements of Taraji Henson and the rest, along with all the indignities imposed on them. For many Americans, the indignities are the stuff of history but it wasn't all that long ago. I remember hitch-hiking north on US 40 and encountering colored and white rest rooms at all the stops, well into Maryland. We needed this reminder. That kind of "racist stuff" is behind us now, thank God, but the sentiments persist in some quarters.

Therein lies the chief problem with this movie. I'll have to shed my PC mantle for a few minutes. The movie is buffed to a high sheen. The whites are all either prejudiced or, at best, sullen or indifferent, with John Glenn a notable exception. The blacks are uniformly good -- indignant but well behaved, except for one or two thoroughly justified outbursts that are necessary to capture the attention of the white guys. The story lacks subtlety. And further I don't need to be preached to or taught a lesson because I'm already a member of the choir.

The few scenes that are nuanced stand out like a gastropod on its poduncle. Here's one such scene. Towards the end, when the ladies have proved their value, Olivia Spencer and her nemesis Kirsten Dunst find themselves alone in the now-integrated ladies' room. Dunst approaches the ever-smiling Spencer and assures her that she, Dunst, is not really prejudiced against black, regardless of what Spencer might think, "please believe me." Still smiling politely, Spencer replies, "Yes. I really believe that you think that." How desperately the movie needs more such scenes.

There's another irritating weakness too. A lot of time is given over to Tararji Henson's budding romance and ultimate marriage to a black colonel in the U.S. Army. It's all there -- the widowhood, the four charming children, the occasional misunderstanding, the declamation of undying love, the transfer of the mother's wedding ring at the birthday party, the tears of happiness. My God, it's Lifetime Movie Network!

I've now gotten the bad stuff out of the way and can say that the movie is well worth watching for any number of reasons. Math wizards are always fascinating anyway. It's a special talent that shows up early in childhood and is later heavily impacted by training, so it's hard to separate the inherited talent from the knowledge picked up in a calculus class. It's not a talent measured on any of the most commonly used intelligence tests, which dismiss it as a mere "aptitude", like musical ability. Shame on the psychometrists.

Anyway, you won't regret seeing it.
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Early Runner for Movie of the Year
view_and_review22 January 2017
When I saw the trailer for this movie I thought, "That's interesting. They're doing a fictional movie about Black American women that worked for NASA in the 60's." I figured that it had to be a fiction because I'd never heard of these women at all. Not a peep. This may be an indictment on myself more than anything but I don't consider myself that uninformed or inattentive that these ladies existence would completely escape me.

Having saw the movie this evening I left there blown away. Regardless of the women or their race and regardless of it being real or fake it was a brilliant production. But once you add to the mix that they were Black (which for obvious reasons was significant at that time period), they were women (see last comment), and it was a true story... the movie is elevated exponentially.

No disrespect to Muhammad Ali, James Brown, Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Ray Charles, Tina Turner and others like them with biopics, but I was overjoyed to see a movie detailing accomplishments of Black Americans that didn't involve sports or entertainment. It was warming to know that we could do other things than run and sing.

But as I mentioned; this was an excellent movie in any case and it had A-listers to further solidify it. I thought Kevin Kostner (Al Harrison), Jim Parsons (Paul Strafford) and Kirsten Dunst (Vivian Mitchell) were terrific. Kirsten Dunst pulled her role off too well as a woman you'd want to physically send into orbit with no rocket. And as good as they were I think Octavia Spencer (Dorothy Vaughan), Janelle Monae (Mary Jackson) and Taraji P. Henson (Katherine Johnson) were that much better. I think this was an incredible story that needed to be told and told well. This movie did not disappoint and it was justly done.
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Oscar Bait at its Worst
chas43730 October 2017
How predictable is Hollywood? A year after the uproar about too many white actors being nominated for Oscars, we get this film. Its a trite narrative, minorities/women overcome racial and/or gender bias to achieve greatness despite the evil white devil man ignoramus. "Hidden Figures" represents a new low in this genre, because it appears that the material presented is largely fictitious.

It takes a 5 minute glance at Wikipedia to find out that the achievements of these 'women of color' were exaggerated, if not invented. Are we really meant to believe this story? These women have the answers while a room full of MIT engineers, mathematicians and rocket scientists are stumped? Its simply not believable.

OK, I get that women, and minority women in particular need to feel better about themselves. But self esteem should stem from actual, real life accomplishments. This is material so typical of the ethos of the millennial generation. You should feel good about yourself JUST BECAUSE, no actual merit required.

This sort of revisionist history is just a big lie, for the sake of appeasing loud minority groups who seem to want racial quotas for film awards. More proof that political correctness is destroying art.
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Well made historical film.
DarkVulcan2913 January 2017
Based on true events, the film takes place in 1961 and three African American woman, Katherine(Taraji P. Henson) Dorothy(Octavia Spencer) and Mary(Janelle Monae) who all go to work for NASA in the beginning of the space program, when they are trying to get a man in space. The woman are all very smart, but struggle to deal with racism and sexism.

A very well made true story, now I'm sure that some things where creative for the film. I liked the 60's setting, Henson, Devine, and Monae all give great Oscar worthy performances. Kevin Costner really shows his strong commanding presence in the film, he is so good you feel he is your boss. Jim Parsons(The Big Bang Theory) is alright, does not get much to do. Kirsten Dunst is also quite impressive. I also liked to watch the beginning of the space program.
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What an Inspiration!
rannynm6 January 2017
This absolutely fantastic film will inspire so many people to never give up on their dreams and talents. It shows that you can do anything if you put your mind to it.

The movie takes place in the 1960s where sexism and racial discrimination is still at a high. There is fear of the Soviet Union since they already have the technology to send astronauts into space, though there is still hope for America. This is a true story which revolves around three extremely intelligent African-American women - Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) and Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) who all work for the NASA program. They are the brains behind the launch of astronaut John Glenn (Glen Powell). The woman struggle with using their brilliance since they live in a world where the color of their skin defines who they are and who they are not going to be.

The acting is fabulous! Taraji P. Henson is made to play Katherine Johnson. Taraji highlights the braveness and intelligence of her character, adding a bit of a quirky side as well. I feel that I know her character like a friend. Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) is my favorite character out of them all. She has this determination in her that is mind blowing. She can be very serious at times, but one of the most hilarious people at others. Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) definitely takes on the leader role. When watching this film you feel for her struggles and want her to succeed so badly. Octavia brings boldness and sarcasm that just makes you adore her. I felt the strong friendship between these woman.

I could tell how much time was spent in designing the set and costumes. The sets are so realistic that I felt transformed into that time period. I loved looking at the small details added to each set. Renee Ehrlich Kalfus designed the costumes which are so colorful and suit each character perfectly. It is so interesting to see how different the clothes were back then. The costumes helped add to it being the 60s.

My favorite scene is when Al Harrison (Kevin Costner) breaks down the colored woman's bathroom sign to show that everyone can share the same restroom. Al Harrison is the head of the NASA launch program. This is my favorite scene because I loved seeing someone who looked beyond the color of people's skin.

The main message of this film is to never give up on your dreams, even when people tell you that you can't. The three woman look beyond their gender and their skin color. They look at the talents they have. One example of this is when Katherine Johnson is talking to Jim Johnson. Jim is surprised as to why they are having a woman do such important things at NASA. Katherine retorts with an inspiring line "Yes they let women do some things at NASA Mister Johnson. And it's not because we wear skirts. It's because we wear glasses!" I recommend this film for ages 9 to 18. The younger audiences will enjoy learning about the past and be inspired to shoot for the stars. The older audiences will like the comedy and the amazing story. I give this film a 5 out of 5 astronaut stars.

Reviewed by Talia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic. For more reviews by youth, go to kidsfirst dot org.
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