First Man

First Man

(2018)

Ryan Gosling is Neil Armstrong in this biopic written by Josh Singer (Spotlight) and directed by Damien Chazelle (La La Land), both Oscar-winners.... More

The film, based on the official biography by James R. Hansen, follows the life of Armstrong from 1961 through to 1969, chronicling NASA's intense journey to land a man on the moon.Hide

Flicks Review

It happened sooner than expected: at the tender age of 33 years old, Oscar golden boy Damien Chazelle decided it was time to make his stodgy, pedestrian Clint Eastwood-in-twilight biopic. With Whiplash and La La Land, Chazelle brought a distinctive brio to his tales of protagonists incurring sacrifices in the pursuit of greater ambition. First Man too, is a variant of this theme, sensitive, predominantly, to the personal collateral damage of its characters above all else.... More

Showcasing an impressive Nolan-esque facility with hardware Chazelle only previously hinted at, the film is unfortunately a dramatically inert chronicle of Neil Armstrong’s journey to his historic moon landing with Buzz Aldrin on July 20, 1969. In weighing up Armstrong’s inner war–his duty to science, country, family–the film rarely deviates from this one note for two hours and twenty-one minutes. We definitely get it: space travel is torture.

Individual sequences inspire awe, and are perhaps as close as we’ve come to “being there” in a theatre. The opening test flight is a riveting, masterfully visceral experience. First Man never loses sight of its central horror: these are essentially human guinea pigs, encased in clattering, claustrophobic steel coffins, sitting on gallons of rocket fuel.

But Chazelle’s solemnity-equals-profundity approach, affected with Malick-style period lyricism and grossly overused shaky-cam, makes one crave a grand entertainment like The Right Stuff or even–dare I say it–Apollo 13. Ryan Gosling imbues Armstrong with a familiar robotic remove, which made a snug fit for pulpier genre fictions like Drive and Blade Runner 2049, but struggles to connect here against the weight of history. The first man on the moon, it turns out, is a bit of a bore.Hide


The Peoples' Reviews

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BY Ken-Burns superstar

141 minutes is a long time in a movie. First Man holds it together well. It's tense and revealing giving good backstory to the space race.


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The Press Reviews

  • After seeing First Man, it’s doubtful you’ll think about space flight, or Armstrong’s historic walk, in quite the same way. Full Review

  • It is a movie packed with wonderful vehemence and rapture: it has a yearning to do justice to this existential adventure and to the head-spinning experience of looking back on Earth from another planet. Full Review

  • This sober, contemplative picture has emotional involvement, visceral tension, and yes, even suspense, in addition to stunning technical craft. Full Review

  • Chazelle has always specialised in virtuoso endings, and his sure hand and sharp eye brings this ambitious character study smoothly into land. Full Review

  • This is a confident but pretty bland technical exercise... The overall result is an authentic, visually impressive viewing experience that doesn't quite land. Full Review

  • The film reconstitutes our taciturn hero as a man riven with grief after the death of his daughter...It's a bold move and seems to inform Gosling's every decision as an actor. Full Review

  • All that gloom gradually smothers the film, with each shot of Armstrong staring, pained, at the moon (we get it; that's where he's going) further diluting the movie's pull. Full Review

  • The performances by Gosling - in a difficult, interior role - and Foy are exemplary. Full Review

  • Though its bravely unorthodox visual style and skeletal storytelling structure are sure to divide viewers in months to come, First Man is still undoubtedly one of the best and most significant movie releases of 2018. Full Review

  • Thrilling when it escapes the gravity of drab living rooms and offices, First Man does an admirable job of complexifying a well-told tale. Full Review

  • Astonishing. The definitive take on a monumental moment in history - without ever losing sight of the man underneath the visor. Full Review

  • Whatever its missteps, "First Man" represents a principled attempt to reconsider what heroism looks and sounds like, to think beyond the reductive rah-rah parameters that have led so many to confuse jingoism with art. Full Review

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