Hidden Figures is a must-see film

l-r Janelle Monáe as Mary Jackson, Taraji P. Henson as Katherine Johnson, and Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughan in Hidden Figures

(l-r) Janelle Monáe as Mary Jackson, Taraji P. Henson as Katherine Johnson, and Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughan in Hidden Figures.

Hidden Figures is the incredible story of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson — brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race, and galvanized the world. The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big. This is one of the most inspiring and important films of the year, and is an absolute must-see for every African American family in the nation and for people everywhere to see that race should not hold back genius.

The biographical comedy-drama film was directed by Theodore Melfi and written by Melfi and Allison Schroeder, based on the nonfiction book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly. The filmed version recounts the story of African-American mathematician Katherine Johnson, who calculated flight trajectories for Project Mercury and the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the Moon, and her two colleagues, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, who, while working in the segregated West Area Computers division of Langley Research Center, helped NASA catch up in the Space Race.

Using their calculations, John Glenn became the first American astronaut to make a complete orbit of the Earth. Glenn would go on to rely upon Katherine’s calculations to safely return from orbit. Eventually Katherine’s contributions actually are an invaluable part of making the manned missions to the moon workable.

The film is garnering rave reviews and inspiring groups to take young people, esp. young African American girls, to watch as young Katherine grows into an indispensable national resource for the United States’ space program. As she performs mathematical computations, Dorothy and Mary also distinguish themselves. Dorothy does so by enabling the use of the new powerful IBM computers when the white males can’t ‘figure’ it out, and Mary does so by becoming an important contributing project engineer in spite of the obstacles stacked against her. The film lovingly depicts the romance of Katherine and her second husband.

Taraji P. Henson stars as Katherine Johnson, a mathematics genius; Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughan; Janelle Monáe as Mary Jackson; Kevin Costner as Al Harrison, director of the Space Task Group; Kirsten Dunst as Vivian Mitchell; Jim Parsons as Paul Stafford; Glen Powell as John Glenn; Mahershala Ali as Jim Johnson; Karan Kendrick as Joylette Coleman, Katherine’s mother; Rhoda Griffis as White Librarian.

Maria Howell as Ms. Summer; Aldis Hodge as Levi Jackson; Paige Nicollette as Eunice Smith; Gary Weeks as Reporter of Press Conference; and Saniyya Sidney as Constance Johnson.

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 92%, based on 66 reviews. The site’s critical consensus reads, “In heartwarming, crowd-pleasing fashion, Hidden Figures celebrates overlooked – and crucial – contributions from a pivotal moment in American history.” On Metacritic, the film has a score of 73 out of 100, based on 29 critics, indicating “generally favorable reviews.” See it now at your local Carmike Cinema. Rated PG, the film runs 2 hours, 7 minutes.