First Man (2018)

PG-13   |    |  Biography, Drama, History


First Man (2018) Poster

A look at the life of the astronaut, Neil Armstrong, and the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969.

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7.4/10
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  • Ryan Gosling and Connor Blodgett in First Man (2018)
  • Dave Karger and Damien Chazelle at an event for First Man (2018)
  • Dave Karger and Damien Chazelle at an event for First Man (2018)
  • Linus Sandgren and Melissa Fisher in First Man (2018)
  • Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy at an event for First Man (2018)
  • Ryan Gosling in First Man (2018)

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Director's Trademarks: The Films of Damien Chazelle

First Man director Damien Chazelle's cinematic world is populated by characters driven by singular ambition and framed with technical and stylistic flourishes.

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14 October 2018 | madorosh
6
| Great visuals, lacks the drama of other treatments
Pretty much gets a 'meh' from me. The story has been told well in From the Earth to the Moon and the film Moonshot. The visuals are stunning, and I do like the (mostly) first person point of view which adds immediacy. Gemini missions never looked so dangerous and claustrophic, which is good. But the film-makers had a choice between covering new ground, and retreading the same ground the other films did, and didn't seem to come down firmly on either side. All the drama of the Apollo 11 landing was pretty much sucked out - yes, it's a foregone conclusion how it will end - but they really dumbed it down, to the film's detriment. Aldrin is reduced to a minor character - and not very sympathetically portrayed, though I'm okay with the latter. No doubt people found him abrasive. But we see none of the clashes that are famously portrayed in the other films (who gets out first, what should be said). Maybe that's the point of the film, we're not *supposed* to know anyone because Armstrong himself was so private and unengaged with those around him.

The one thing I thought this movie did better than the others was the actual first step on the moon. I thought From the Earth to the Moon did a slightly comical job, inadvertently, by panning the camera to Armstrong's midsection just as the music swelled. First Man gets this moment right, with a much different musical approach. The scenery looks absolutely real, and the crater that Armstrong flies over in order to land looks as terrifying as it is supposed to, something the other film's could only hint at through dialogue.

For those who have the transcript of the landing memorized, though, it's a bit too bad not to hear "413 is in" and much of the other famous dialogue - "drifting to the right a little", "picking up some dust."

Worth seeing for the visuals and the Gemini 8 portrayal but all in all seemed, to me, to be a bit shallow. We all know Armstrong bit his tongue bailing out of the LLTV, but this is one of the many details left out in order to streamline the film.

Oh, and the idiotic "where is the flag" controversy is completely unjustified. If you just have to see the Stars and Stripes, there's a very nice shot of Armstrong's kids hoisting the flag on their front lawn during a launch.

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