Film Reviews: “Hidden Figures” & “Passengers”



Okay. I had done all my chores, it was holiday break, and thankfully, there were some excellent films playing! Here are my observations on my two Christmas favorites.

“Hidden Figures” is just about pitch-perfect as the inspirational tale of African-American women who brilliantly did the math to help launch Alan Shepard and John Glenn into space back in an era when a computer was a smart person with a slide rule. Don’t worry, it’s not a two-hour math lecture (and I blush to confess I was mystified as well! There was a nice bit about blending formulas for ellipses and parabolas, which we do cover in Valley College’s Math 102 and Calc II classes.)

But the central point of inspiration is the tearing down of 1961 racial barriers. The most poignant moment is when an indignant Kevin Costner finally takes a sledge hammer and knocks down the “Colored” sign in front of the ladies’ room and snaps: “Here at NASA we all pee the same color.”

There’s nothing particular noble about “Passengers,” although in terms of ratings, there really is just one minor bad word. But this is maybe the most visually lush film I’ve ever seen. The space shots are glorious, and the many wow shots of the spaceship’s interior are really great on the big screen, where this film deserves to be seen. The premise of the story is also intriguing: one passenger out of thousands on a 90-year “hibernation” voyage to a distant destination wakes up decades too soon. He then faces a moral dilemma: does he tamper with the machinery in order to also awaken Jennifer Lawrence, thus dooming her to live (and die) stranded just with him?

So thumbs way up for both of these. Enjoy!



About David B. Smith

I'm a math professor at San Bernardino Valley College - awesome place! - and author of adult Christian fiction. Lisa and I have two grown daughters and four grandkids.
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