First Man (2018)

first man poster 2018 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great looking, great cast, compelling story

You already know how it ends but it is still compelling

Movie Info

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first man neil armstrong ryan gosling

I just wanted a moon rock

The space race is on, and Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) finds himself in the middle of it. While Neil and his wife Janet (Claire Foy) are mourning the loss of their daughter, NASA is pushing for a moon landing. The struggles and challenges of putting a man on the moon are great and through tragedy and loss, Armstrong could go down in history!

Directed by Damien Chazelle, First Man is a biopic historical film. The script was based upon the 2005 non-fiction book First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen and was originally planned for Clint Eastwood to direct. The film was released to critical acclaim and received an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects with nominations for Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing

I won’t lie, I wasn’t very excited about First Man. I’ve like Chazelle’s other films, but biopics are generally a downer. They over-emphasize already dramatic events and often try to emotionally manipulate the audience when it isn’t needed. That being said, I enjoyed First Man a lot.

first man janet armstrong claire foy

The worried wife

Chazelle went to great lengths to try to make the film accurate. From the tech to the events of the flights, the movie is generally considered very faithful to actual events. The movie (like many movies) dives into Armstrong’s life, but it doesn’t necessarily make it the thrust of the story. It shapes Armstrong, but it also doesn’t feel like the story is pushing it.

Part of the strength of the film is the acting. Gosling plays Armstrong as quiet and serious, but parts of Armstrong’s life like his musical background and other little quirks make you see him as a rounded character. His wife played by Claire Foy also suffers from the “astronaut’s wife” syndrome with her being forced to listen and worry from the sidelines (especially since Armstrong seems like a emotionally quiet man). Though Foy and Gosling are the main stars, they have a great back-up cast including Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll, Patrick Fugit, Lukas Haas, Shea Whigham, Brian d’Arcy, Ethan Embry, and Ciarán Hinds among others.

first man neil armstrong ryan gosling moon landing gemini 11

Crap…did I turn the oven off?

The movie also looks fantastic. Though it covers some of the same material as The Right Stuff (and The Right Stuff is still good), it shows how far technology has come…even from the more recent Apollo-13. Chazelle does it while not making the special effects override the story though the story is how these almost rickety machines leave the atmosphere and reach the moon.

First Man is a movie about a story that you already know and you already know the ending to, yet it still is compelling. The movie and the cast are still able to play on the drama and the amazing event that even today seems somewhat unbelievable…especially since at the time of the film’s release almost everyone who ever stepped on the moon (including Armstrong) has passed away. It is a testament to a time gone, and the people who risked their lives for science.

Related Links:

The Right Stuff (1983)

The 91st Academy Award Nominations

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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