12 October 2018 | ccorral419
Continuously shaky camera work and up close camera positioning hindered this film
Director/Writer Damien Chapelle successfully wore both hats in his 2016 "La La Land" and 2014 "Whiplash" endeavores. However, in "First Man," where he carries only the director title, his presentation is hindered and overburdened by continuous and unnecessary shaky camera work and countless close-ups. While the tumble and shaking within the capsule provides a first-hand up-close and personal space travel experience, the moving camera rarely stops, and its proximity to the actors/action makes watching the film difficult and/or hard to understand what is being presented on screen. Ryan Gosling ("La La Land") is young engineer/test pilot/astronaut Neil Armstrong (1961-1969), determined to do what it takes to be the best. At home, his wife Janet (Claire Foy "The Crown" TV) is holding their lives together, especially following a family tragedy. As we progress toward the first walk on the moon, Armstrong must weather several fellow astronaut deaths, distancing himself from himself and those around him. Claire Foy does a nice job with the little she is given, proving the women behind the astronaut is as much a part of the space travel experience as their husbands. The film has a terrific ensemble cast (Jason Clarke "Zero Dart Thirty," Kyle Chandler "Friday Night Lights," "Shea Whigham "Waco," Corey Stoll "House of Cards", Lukas Haas "Witness," to name a few). Yet, the on screen personas of Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin (Corey Stoll) that writers Josh Singer and James R. Hansen (whose book "First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong" the film is based upon) present are very contradictory to the personas many may know, and ultimately hurt the production. The space race between the US and USSR is given its due here, and the first space docking and the various space tragedies experienced are well represented. I really enjoyed the footage of the Moon's surface, if in fact that was actual real footage. Now, if only proven Executive Producer Steven Spielberg would have taken a strong role in the films overall presentation, "First Man" could have been a more successful production.