First Man: Just watch the 1969 original
This movie was pretty boring. Personally, I love the real world moon landing and space exploration. Sadly those aspects were rushed over. The film mainly focuses on the life and struggles of Neil Armstrong’s personal life. However a grounded movie about a man in space doesn’t come off the right way. The 2018 film, directed by Damien Chazelle, who just worked with Ryan Gosling on La-La Land, leaves audience members thinking less about the accomplishments of the mission and more about how Neil Armstrong was kind of an asshole.
In my book, regardless of how this movie portrayed the character or however intense he was in real life, Neil Armstrong is one of the bravest men ever born. Buzz Aldrin and himself were the two first men to set foot on the surface of another body of land outside of our atmosphere. I went into this movie excited to see how he overcame impossible odds and achieved what no other man before him had done. To be fair, we did see a lot of those trials and sacfircices. This movie does an incredible job of showing how much NASA was capable of doing with so little. The greatest strength of this film is its ability to make you feel like you were there. Every time the characters were in a space craft, it was an intense experience. I can only imagine how terrifying it was to actually live that life. There were a few scenes in the film that I actually would not be shocked to find were taken directly from stock footage of the actual event. Another strength that I want to point out was the attention to detail matched with astounding CG effect. When they make it to the moon (spoilers they actually make it to the moon) you feel like it is real. It looks cold, lonely, and terrifying. However at the same time they capture the peaceful magic of being in space.
Based on the trailers, I was expecting more of a fun interpretation of the training for the mission (a-la Space Cowboys, Armageddon, Apollo 13). Instead the story of getting to the moon was mostly depressing and filled with tragedy. But the worst part of the story was what Neil dealt with outside of NASA. I’m not sure how much of this film was real and how much was Hollywood dramatization. For the benefit of a doubt, let’s trust Damien and say it was all true. Neil Armstrong has a terrible thing happen to him, which caused a very intense and driven individual. While that may work for a perfect Astronaut, it creates a bad family dynamic. Most of the film was focused around the Armstrong family. Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy, playing Janet Armstrong, have pretty great on-screen chemistry. This wasn’t a loving relationship. It was very intense and very real. In no way am I saying they didn’t do a great job on screen, but personally it wasn’t really what I was going into the theater for. When you are an audience member looking forward to the space exploration aspects of a movie, and you have to sit through 20 minutes of family drama, it takes you out of the experience.
If you are interested in finding out more about the mission it’s self, I would actually recommend a documentary instead. They mainly gloss over many of the events leading up to the actual mission. I went into the movie wanting to know more about how NASA got us to the moon. I left gaining no additional information outside of personal factoids about the man himself. Along will a new perspective on how many people actually hated the space race and thought tax dollars would be better spent on the people of Earth. But perhaps that wass my fault for going in with expectations. If your interests lie more in the Neil Armstrong, you might love this movie. If you are a die-hard Ryan Gosling fan, then you will definitively love this movie. I personally think he is a phenomenal actor and he gives one hell of a performance. I wouldn’t be shocked if he gets an Oscar Nomination for this one. But like most Oscar-winning movies, this wasn’t really for me. So if you are going to see it, just be aware of what you are getting yourself into.
Let me be the first man to tell you that this movie is very long with very dry and boring scenes. There is not any giant leaps done in this film that brings something new to the genre. Ryan Gosling’s performance, although great, was not enough to saving this from The Snappening. I will not be shocked to find that another movie based around the events of NASA and the moon landing is already in production. If the original moon landing was a fake, filmed in a studio of Hollywood, then this remake doesn’t add much to the original.
Movie watched and review written by: Troy Smith