Based on the true story of three African-American women who, in the early 1960s, worked for NASA. As America rushes to try to beat Russia in the “space race”, maths genius Katherine (Taraji P Henson), skilled “supervisor” Dorothy (Octavia Spencer) and aspiring engineer Mary (Janelle Monae) play instrumental roles in getting an American astronaut into orbit. At the same time, as the Civil Rights movement is raging, these women encounter opposition, hostility and prejudice – due to their race and gender.
Video: Ben McEachen reviews Hidden Figures
RATED: PG for mild themes and coarse language.
AUDIENCE: Fans of The Help, Selma and any other true-life tale that includes people struggling against unfair opposition.
WHAT’S GOOD: Movies about racism in America are many; there is another one at cinemas right now (Denzel Washington’s Fences). We all know it is wrong to become bored by such a hot topic but any subject that is repeatedly used in movies runs the risk of audience apathy. What Hidden Figures does very well is to tell a slightly different story about African-Americans battling prejudice – and do so in an entertaining, mainstream way. Hidden Figures even manages to include elements such as humour, light romance sub-plots and a funky soundtrack, so that audiences aren’t burdened by the terrible and insulting things Katherine, Dorothy and Mary come up against. Still, in subtle yet potent ways, Hidden Figures is able to highlight the absurdity of treating humans unequally.
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WHAT’S NOT: At times, some of the lighter parts of Hidden Figures can be a bit cheesy or seem as if they are not taking things seriously enough. While the maths and other technical aspects of this uplifting movie are presented so that even people like me can understand them, they also can be dumbed down to the point of silliness. But the biggest disappointment about Hidden Figures is it has a limp and off-target ending, despite having done such a great job of delivering heavy topics with accessible appeal.
SPIRITUALLY SPEAKING: Given we live in an age, in Australia, where the majority of society are not Christian, watching a movie like Hidden Figures can remind of what it’s like when people allow God to shape their whole lives. Even though Katherine, Dorothy and Mary face huge obstacles and opposition, they often praise Jesus and God for the strength and opportunities they receive. Also, as the NASA bosses scramble to win the race into outer space, Hidden Figures becomes a restrained reminder about our priorities at that time in history (and still today). With people on earth unable to get together and treat each other well in the 1960s, why was so much money being tipped into getting people to the moon? And what about today? It’s not as if all issues between people have been sorted out; so what should we be investing our money and time into?
RELEASE DATE: February 16