Hidden Figures (DVD)

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Hidden Figures (DVD)

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Review of "Hidden Figures (DVD)"

published 30/10/2017 | thedevilinme
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Hidden Figures (DVD)

Hidden Figures (DVD)

Star – Viola Davis
Genre – Biopic > Comedy
Run Time – 110 minutes
Certificate – 12
Country – U.S.A
Oscars- 3 Nominations
Awards – 37 Win & 77 Nominations
Amazon – £5.00 DVD £9.99 Blue Ray
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In recent years a strong black protest group for more equality in entertainment and the movie industry finally got heard and Hollywood took notice at The Oscars. Black actors never really started winning Oscars until the late 1980s and a trickle thereafter. They weren’t even nominated until 1954 for Best Actress with Dorothy Dandridge, having to wait until 2001 and the next millennium to acutely win the Best Actress Oscar, Halle Berry for Monsters Ball still the only black winner of that award, incredibly. 5 Black women in the last 17-years have won Best Supporting Actress though. In the male acting categories its much better .Only in the last few years did they get their first EVER directing Oscar, Steve McQueen for the rather boring and sprawling self righteous 12-Years-A-Slave (2013).

As the protest movement peaked in 2015 after the Martin Luther King biopic was ignored and big black stars like Will Smith and his wife Jada came out and protested (mainly because Wills career had tanked), Hollywood acted and it was almost a clean sweep last year for Black actors and directors, Moonlight, Fences and Hidden Figures picking up most of the golden statues and nominations for acting. Studios and small film companies quickly twigged now was the time to release those Black American themed films sitting on the shelf and affirmative action would do the rest as far as publicity and awards go. Put simply it was a great time to make films like Hidden Figures. In 2017 we returned to normal as La La Land cleaned up for white teeth supremacy and we are back to where we started for 2018s awards season.

Hidden Figures, based on the book of the same name is a true and sadly forgotten story and exactly the point the Hollywood protest group were trying to make that black talent and excellence is often buried in history. Apollo 13 and the Right Stuff are the Hollywood movies about NASA and space we only see at the movies as square - jawed handsome white astronauts reach for the stars and the only black faces in the movies are the cleaners and the guys who pump gas into their sports cars, no tickertape welcome in film for those guys. What we were never told is the extremely important role black Americans played in the NASA brains department to get the guys up their in the first place, Hidden Figures the story of three of their most important ones, Katherine Johnson, a brilliant computing mathematician from Georgia.


Katharine G Johnson….Taraji P Henson
Octavia Spencer …. Dorothy Vaughn
Mary Jackson ….Janelle Monae
Vivian Mitchell…..Kirsten Dunst
Al Harrison ….Kevin Costner
Jim Parsons…Paul Stafford
Colonel Jim Johnson ….Mahershala Ali
Levi Jackson …Aldis Hodge
Ruth…Kimberly Quinn
John Glenn….Glenn Powell


It the late 1950s and the Cold War and racism raging equally in America as we meet three smart black ladies who have broken down on a country back road in Virginia. After a cop drills them with the perfunctory racist hassle- and after some back-story about the girl’s youth - we learn they are on their way to NASA to work for the West Computing Group in Raleigh. The white cop is quietly impressed by the sassy girls and even gives them an escort to NASA as they are running late, this time more concerned about the Russians than their skin color. Important work needs to be done to get America ahead in the Space Race and so no time to lose.

Segregation is rampant in the south and even at NASA, the black girls working in separate offices and buildings to the white girls and boys. Their job is to type up all the data and reports and stuff but some of the girls capable of much more but held back by their color and gender, it appears. But things are about to change for Katherine Johnson (Taraji P Henson), a brilliant young computing mathematician, called over to the big house to work with the all white team of male engineers working on the Redstone Rocket project, headed by Chief Al Harrison (Kevin Costner).

At first she is not taken seriously and her job is to type up and check other engineer’s calculations and make reports for KC. But she starts to point out their mistakes and catch the eye of Harrison, Johnson soon chalking complex equations on the huge blackboard for all to see about how to help make orbit. NASA are losing lots of rockets and capsules putting vehicles into space in fear the Russians will do it first and so handing over space superiority in the Cold War, America burning up millions of dollars in the process. When Sputnik is successful it causes even more concern for the US government and so NASA gets the blame.

As NASA is not set up to employ Black Americans this side of the complex poor old Katherine has to travel half-a-mil to the nearest toilet block for colored’s only and also subtle racism going on in her new workplace, like having to use a separate coffee pot. Katherine’s friend Dorothy (Octavia Spencer) is also having hassle, supervising the girls in the office but not on supervisors pay, clearly being taken advantage of, regularly pestering her boss Vivian Mitchell (Kirsten Dunst) for a rise.

The third of the trio is (Shaqi), a technician who wants to be an engineer but not allowed to go to the school she needs to for the degrees as they don’t allow women, let alone Negros. Together the girls will have to push and fight as hard as they can to get what the career they want. Johnson’s calculations have helped get a module into orbit, VD is teaching the girls about early computing as NASA bring in swanky new IMB machine to speed up calculations that she knows will replace them one day and Shoq goes to court to get her right to study at the university. But when Russia gets a man into space the tension is cranked up some more as the enemy looks to take over space and get well ahead in the Cold War and so, in Americas minds, the ability to launch an undetected nuclear first strike.


Hidden Figures is enjoyable and interesting enough but doesn’t reach the emotional and thrilling heights of films like Apollo 13 and those space biopic’s. It just lacks that needed honesty on what really happened and a bit more intelligent scripting to be a cool movie on some seriously impressive ladies. For some reason the studios don’t want to make the intelligent film they deserve and softened it all up as a humble comedy.
Bar Costner’s character, all the white people are disappointingly two dimensional paid up white racist which is very unfair. I’m pretty sure that was not generally the case in NASA and the space program bigotry exaggerated for the movie to somehow get the audience on side. Intelligent people gravitate towards each other and I’m sure the color barriers smaller in this group. The…‘oh, I thought you were the cleaner’, gag was really uncalled for. There is an element of propaganda to the film on that.

Not publicly recognizing the girls’ achievements is not NASA’S darkest secret by a long way. After World War Two, Russia and America cherry picked the best of the Nazi scientists and professors and employed them in places like NASA to help with their fledgling rocket and space program, the V2 guy Van Braun being the most famous recruit. Some of these German guys did ghastly experiments on the Jews in the death camps. There’s a film Hollywood won’t be making any day soon! Pressurized suits for aircraft and space capsules mainly came about by testing them on animals and then humans in atmospheric vacuum tanks in the death camps. I don’t need to draw you a picture what happened to the Jews when the suits didn’t work.

As far as entertaining film goes for all the family it’s not too patronizing although the black people are stereotypes to some extent. Hollywood rarely portrays black people as fully rounded characters. I suspect its three Oscar nominations were to secure that over-representation of black Oscar wins in 2016 as this is not a classic Oscar type film. But its modest $25 million budget delivered an impressive $233 million dollars to date, which is great money for films associated with the Oscars and suggested great word of mouth.

It’s a breeze for Costner to do the righteous Costner thing and the three black girls decent enough in the lead. It’s uplifting to discover they were so important to NASA and that pride comes across well although clearly some liberties have been taken with the facts and the relationships between the girls to keep the narrative going and the film moving forward. The idea NASAs three brightest black girls lived near each other and so knew each other and drive into work together seems far fetched. It was certainly the case that Dorothy Vaughn’s role with the IMB computer technology was not as important as portrayed in the film. The script writers also bungled some of the key science. Black voices were also unhappy with Costner’s composite white hero role in the movie breaking down those barriers for the girls when in reality the black girls didn’t need his help and used the white’s only toilets, Mary Johnson never went to court to get the right to get into the whites only school and Vaughn did make supervisor, NASAs first black American one no less and were all but equals at NASA. Why couldn’t it be the black girls who broke down the barriers were the black critics moan? The film could only be made and sold with this racial conflict going on it seems. The girls did great at NASA because they were smart and worked hard.


Imdb.com – /10.0 (votes)
Rottentomatos.com –76 % critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 74% critic’s approval

Special Features

-No Limits: The Life of Catherine Johnson-

Some chat with the real Catherine and hr life at NSA. She is an impressive and sprightly 97-years-young. Turns out she was NASAs top computing expert. It’s so sad wee don’t hear these stories though it doesn’t seem to be suppressed due to skin color. Its just some one thought it would make a great movie.

-Making the decimal: honoring Katherine Johnson-

Obama couldn’t wait to pin medal or two on her and why not!

-Hidden Figures: Filming in Georgia-

Obviously the film was not shot at Kennedy Space Center and Georgia Tech University chosen instead, where they have a space engineering faculty.


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Comments on this review

  • snow_drops published 22/11/2017
    E from me
  • Secre published 21/11/2017
    Sounds an interesting watch
  • euphie published 17/11/2017
    e :o)
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Product Information : Hidden Figures (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

Product Details

Actor(s) (Last name, First name): Costner, Kevin

DVD Region: DVD

Actor(s): Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst

Video Category: Feature Film

Director(s): Theodore Melfi

EAN: 5039036080170

Classification: Parental Guidance

Production Year: 2017


Listed on Ciao since: 02/08/2017