Hidden Figures Review - Four Stars! Amazing Bio-Pic Highlights Three Unsung True Life Heroes

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Hidden Figures, from FOX 2000 Pictures and Chernin Entertainment, presents the story of three brilliant African American women, the best minds in the computer section, who worked for NASA during segregation and the launch of the space program.

Directed and co-written by Theodore Melfi, Hidden Figures stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge, Glen Powell, Kimberly Quinn, Olek Krupa, Lidya Jewett, Donna Biscoe, Adiana Neal, Saniyya Sidney, Zani Jones Mbayise and Frank Hoyt Taylor.  Allison Schroeder and Melfi developed the screenplay from the book written by Margot Lee Shetterly.

Hidden Figures opens in a classroom with a young Katherine G. Coleman, played by Lidya Jewett, who by age eight had the mathematical mind of a genius. Her ability to solve complex equations was put to the test in front of her mixed gender and much older peers. She turns and begins to explain that it is self-explanatory to a room of gaping mouths and stunned looks.

Her teachers, as she is African American in a time when segregation still dictates the lives, actions, and reactions of the southern negro, explained to her parents that she had the most advanced mathematical mind they had ever seen and a gifted school in Virginia had accepted her. And for the sake of what this child will become they had to go.

Hidden Figures fast forwards now and we meet our adult Katherine, played by Taraji P. Henson, stuck on the side of the road with Dorothy Vaughn, played by Octavia Spencer, and Mary Jackson played by Janelle Monae. Dorothy, has a gift with mechanical problems and machines, is on the ground and under the hood.

The three, as Ms. Jackson, whose secret desire is to be NASA’s first black and female engineer, said “no crime in begin broke down and no crime in being negro either.” The first obviously is true the second in the 1960’s was debatable depending on who was asking.

On this day, a Virginia State Trooper, played by Ron Clinton Smith, pulls up behind our ladies, and when he realized they were late for work at NASA (gosh officer we’re running late) he was quick to offer a siren blaring escort.

As our girls head to their pool room waiting for assignments we meet the leaders of the NASA mission, which will work to put a man in orbit, as they watch the news footage of the Russian’s celebrating the first manned space orbit.

Al Harrison who leads the program, played by Kevin Costner angry at himself and his team, including Mathematician Paul Stafford, played by Jim Parsons, as they cannot get past the problems stopping their best and their brightest from achieving orbit.

Soon we find that even NASA employs segregation. The colored computers, of which our girls are called, were segregated to a campus close to a half-a-mile from the main building. Generational hate and behaviors are difficult, if not impossible to break, and even the masterminds at NASA had difficulty at colorblindness.

On this day, we meet Vivian Mitchell, played by Kirsten Dunst, the supervisor who hands out assignments to the colored workers. Dorothy Vaughn has been acting supervisor, all the responsibility none of the benefits, for over a year, and of course each time she asks, she is denied.

At times, it seems the discrimination is simply bureaucracy, others times it is clear and blatant. And on this day our girls are given, by chance, their dream assignments, Mary Jackson, is working with the engineers developing the dynamics for the next NASA mission.

Our Katherine is given an assignment with the team whose responsibility it is to determine the mathematical equations that will launch a man in space and more importantly bring him home safely.

As Hidden Figures moves forward our ladies, Dorothy, Mary, and Katherine, are faced with the continued discrimination, they’ve with limits accepted as life. When forced to explain our girl Katherine, explodes and finally, and quite honestly, she is the most mathematically gifted, and as Hidden Figures is a true story, probably the most advanced mathematical mind NASA had ever seen up to that time in history and maybe ever.

Our leading men each come around and have great moments of personal advancement that become foundations in society when NASA from within stopped reflecting the world of segregation.

Hidden Figures is an extraordinary film. I loved it. It depicts a time in history when people looked outside of themselves to find larger solutions and discrimination's began to melt away, slowly.

Each of our girls had major pinnacles when the effort actually pays off and the expected outcome is silenced.  

Fighting the system, especially for those of a higher mind, can be even more disheartening as the rational for the continued behavior makes no sense and has no merit. The blind endure as it is all they know; the learned see and stand stunned. Even after the great moments that our girls each have discrimination hovers like a shadow.

In the mix of all this NASA is modernizing and bringing in IBM machines that can compute the equations faster than the most brilliant, and are preparing to send John Glenn into orbit, and are focused on the Moon landing.

Our Dorothy repeatedly turned down for the supervisor position has always had a knack for machines and having the foresight to know that no matter how fast the computer solves the equation somewhere there would be a human programming the data, she learned the IBM coding language.

Hidden Figures, is a true story. Our girls have been lauded throughout history and now even more with the revelation that these women, in a time when life presented immense challenges made their way. Katherine G. Johnson has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and NASA has named the Computational Research Facility at Langley’s NASA facility after her.

Katherine Johnson’s math computations influenced every major space program from Mercury through the Space Shuttle. Mary Jackson who in her mind was already the engineer her race denied her the chance to achieve decided to steam roll through the obstacles.

Hidden Figures is brilliantly made. It is a film for the unsung heroes; a film for the underrated, for the brilliant who are repeatedly overlooked, passed over and face discrimination. It is for those who say, one day, my time will arrive and I will be ready.

Hidden Figures with the overlying themes of the first orbit launch, of a new era for America, will make you smile, laugh, hope, and believe. It affirms that within each of us is more, that color, race, or gender does not bind brilliance.  

Hidden Figures opens in select cities December 28, 2016 and in theaters everywhere January 5, 2017. I loved it. See it.

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