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The most fun maths has been since Johnny Ball.

Out 19 june Dig­i­tal HD 3 july DVD, BD, 4K Ul­tra Ex­tras Com­men­tary, Mak­ing Of, Fea­turette, Gallery

Wel­come to 1961. With Rus­sia inch­ing ahead in the space race, NASA is des­per­ate to put a man into or­bit. Help­ing the mis­sion off the ground are African-Amer­i­can maths mavens Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Hen­son), Dorothy Vaughan (Oc­tavia Spencer) and Mary Jack­son (Janelle Monáe), whose colour and gen­der see them wrestling with big­otry no less than big num­bers…

A crowd-pleaser par ex­cel­lence, Theodore Melfi’s box-of­fice smash (and awards both­erer) han­dles its his­tor­i­cal drama with a light touch. Which cuts both ways. It’s too work­man­like to of­fer sur­prises, its emo­tional, comedic and mu­si­cal beats (retro sound­track from pro­ducer Phar­rell) play­ing in pre­dictable ro­ta­tion. But it’s also rarely wor­thy or bogged down in head-hurty maths.

Rocket-boosted by the leads’ easy charisma, it unashamedly aims for up­lift, with­out mono­logu­ing it into the

ground. And it grat­i­fies to see the big white names (scratchy-but-de­cent boss­man Kevin Cost­ner; com­pla­cent su­per­vi­sor Kirsten Dunst; Jim Par­sons ba­si­cally play­ing a more dick­ish Shel­don) play­ing sec­ond fid­dle in a ma­jor main­streamer.

Ex­tras miss a trick by not re­group­ing the ladies for the chat-track (it’s a Melfi/Hen­son two-han­der); else­where the di­rec­tor ex­plains how he chose Fig­ures over a gig called… Spi­der-Man: Home­com­ing. Matthew Ley­land

Taraji P. Hen­son de­cides it’s time to try the Magic Eye ap­proach…

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