Hidden Figures UltraHD Blu-ray Review
By Chris Heinonen on
Summary: Hidden Figures is the incredible untold story of Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe)—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.
Movie Review: Hidden Figures tells three different but connected stories. Katherine Johnson is a computer for NASA; someone that does the calculations in the era before mainframe computers take over. Assigned to the launch project team she has to constantly prove herself despite being the only woman and minority in the room.
Dorothy Vaughan is the supervisor of the computers but without the actual title or pay. She realizes as she sees the IBM mainframe being installed that her team isn’t going to be able to survive for much longer and they all will have to adapt.
Mary is an assistant to a team designing the capsule and has the skills and knowledge to be an engineer, but it is still the 1960’s and in the south. The only universities she can take the necessary classes to get an engineering position at NASA are in locations that are still segregated.
Overall the film makes NASA look like a place that only adapts to change when it benefits them. Katherine’s boss decided to desegregate the bathrooms, but only because having to travel to one is causing Katherine to miss time at work. Similarly, Dorothy is only given any position because she manages to become the only person with a skill set, despite having done more than enough to earn a promotion before. The only person that actually seems committed to seeing the African Americans in the film as equals is John Glenn.
The movie itself is very good and the story moves along quite well. It not only tells an interesting part of American history that we are mostly unfamiliar with but provides a good set of role models in a film I can watch again with my kids when they are older.
Technical Review: Hidden Figures was shot on 16mm and 35mm film with a 2K digital intermediate. While it is only 2K you do see a noticeable improvement over the Blu-ray with some fine textures and other objects. It also makes it very easy to see those occasions where the original negative is slightly out of focus. HDR is used on smaller occasions, like the thrust of a rocket taking off or a bit of sun. Colors are rich throughout, with a bit of a classic Technicolor feel to them. The image is very attractive and makes watching the film enjoyable.
There is one strange shot at 57:00 into the film where it moves from black & white to color and the B&W image is very pixelated. There doesn’t seem to be a stylistic choice to the pixelation, it just seems like an odd compression artifact.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack does a very good job despite not being object based. Rocket launches provide a bit of low-end rumble during the film but otherwise, it is much more dialogue focused. Ambient effects are used well from putting you into a rainstorm or the background chatter of a party. The disc for Hidden Figures doesn’t disappoint, providing a better experience than the Blu-ray disc, but isn’t as perfect as it could be.
Special Features: Audio commentary, Deleted Scenes, Featurettes.
Review System: Vizio P65-C1 display, Oppo UDP-203 UltraHD Blu-ray Player, KEF Ci5160RL-THX Fronts, Ci3160RL-THX Center, 2x Ci200RR-THX Surrounds, 4x CI200RR-THX Atmos Speakers, Anthem MRX 1120 Receiver.
Well done and enjoyable movie, rich looking image with some spots of HDR, very good soundtrack.
No 4K DI, no Atmos/DTS:X soundtrack, one weird shot with lots of pixelization.
Hidden Figures is a very well done film that receives a good looking UltraHD transfer. It isn't as razor sharp as a 4K DI would allow, but the colors are bold and true with some occasional uses of HDR.