First Man (2018) Poster

(2018)

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8/10
A lot more than just a standard biopic
dirty_chords6 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This is my interepretation of a film I wasn't ready to love. Boy, was I wrong.

Based on the book "First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong" by James R. Hansen, director Damien Chazelle and writer Josh Singer took the chronicle of an American triumph and emphasised on the personal story behind it. Through Armstrong's stance, the film makes a clear point: Determination, struggle, sacrifice and most of all failure are key ingredients to someone's eventual success. But in order to achieve success you've got to risk everything, albeit success is never guaranteed.

In one scene, Janet Armstrong (excellently played by Claire Foy) claims that she only wanted to lead an ordinary life with her husband. On the contrary, Neil has made a clear choice: He will try to accomplish his great mission, knowing that it is quite possible his kids will never see their father again.

Whenever signs of arrogance, conceit and complacency are shown, they are an omen of failure. On the other hand, Armstrong's attitude is the epitome of how success is to be achieved. He is quite commited to his mission and never behaves immaturely when it comes to it. He is focused on his goal. Family and social life, well that's another story (we often see that Armstrong is incapable of communicating or expressing his feelings to his dearest ones).

Portraying such an introvert character, Gosling has a sole major moment to shine, in a very important scene which proves to be pivotal in terms of what the movie tries to communicate: USA went to the moon to win the Cold War, while Armstrong, after being marked by tragedy, went to the moon in order to find peace (and by the time his daughter's old memento reappears, we assume he has found some). The film is about him; it doesn't care that much about the US agenda. In fact, I thought that it only showed subtle contempt towards the nationalistic celebrations and the passionate political speeches aimed at boosting the spirit of the American people.

Moreover, First Man is one of those biopics where you know what is about to happen, but can't help but get caught up in the rising suspense of its great scenes. At their most exciting, these scenes reach a very satisfying climax, rewarding the audience's patience. Directing and cinematography deserve every accolade they have gotten so far.
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9/10
Thru the eyes of the first man
daniel-dippel20 October 2018
I now laugh when I reread some of the negative reviews - to summarize: it made me have motion sickness so I left, didn't develop the orher characters enough, too somber and brooding, didn't cover all of the events of Niel Armstrongs career, etc. Well, most of these individuals missed the point of the movie or don't understand this genre of storytelling. It is a first person account basically told through the eyes of the first person to walk on the moon. I found this refreshing and not your typical Hollywood approach of trying to fit too much, too thinly for such an epic sweeping story that covers decades and dozen of key figures. It could have been 3-3.5 hours long. Yes, it could have been a TV mini-series or two (or more) movies. I love that it was told through the eyes of one central figure. Told through the eyes of the man that all of the accumulated effort of thousands of people and billions of dollars spent to accomplish one goal before the Soviets and for humankind - having a human step foot on the moon for the first time. I cannot remember a cinematic experience that got me as close to experiencing what it was truly like to be there first hand, in the drivers seat if you will, or better put, insabely strapped into a coffin fixed atop a massive liquid fuel explosion. How any person would be brave enough to face this, be able to perform well while in the thick of it and want to do it again and again is beyond words (or sanity). With death and fear all around no wonder there was a dark cloud hanging over everyone. I am sure all of us have marvelled at what has been accomplished by the NASA space missions especially Apollo. The movie Apollo 13 was a very good story that I thought put me as close to being an Astronaut as i could get. I was wrong. So, go and see First Man. Go and let yourself become THE astronaut. THE first human that was there at the very top of a giant pyramid of people because many before had made the ultimate sacrifice to make possible one giant leap for mankind. i will never look at another manned space vehicle, past or present, or astronaut again the same way,
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6/10
It felt genuine but left me bored
fallyhag14 October 2018
The attempt to make it all feel dated and real worked well. There were no glossy space scenes. Add some interesting sounds and a lot of shakes can and the overal scene approach works.

But then there is the story. We all know what happens. So it was just about the angle they approached it at. Unfortunately they picked the boring angle.

The struggle with grieving was irritating. The lack of substance in the characters was disappointing. The frame was non existent. The length too long. The outcome underwhelming. The ending an anti climatic relief.

I will remember this film for the dirty toilets, great acting and my repeated checking of my watch. If you want to learn a tiny bit then watch it. But it is sadly no masterpiece. Let down but the story telling...

Recommend? Yes. On a Sunday...
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6/10
One of the most momentous events in history, turned into a depressing drag.
brianjsmith-8640813 October 2018
If you are thinking this is going to be a fun, great movie like Apollo 13, well, just rent Apollo 13 and watch that one again.

I've been a 'space-nut' and an aficionado of NASA and the space program since I was a kid in the 70's. I'm not sure how they could have made a movie about Neil Armstrong and the first moon landing more sobby-eyed or depressing. It managed to capture none of the majesty, grandeur, or scope of the undertaking- it was just a wet-blanket of constant angst.

The close ups were so close-up that they made you want to back right out of the theater, and were shot in a way to make them resemble shaky-handed home-video footage shot on a hand-held. The camera just refused to hold still for anything in this movie, and it was infuriating.

I'm sure, at least at a few points in his life, Neil Armstrong cracked a smile. You wouldn't think so from watching this. I know he shunned public attention, but I find it impossible to believe Neil Armstrong could possibly have been as lifeless and wooden as he was portrayed in this film. Foy's portrayal of his wife came across even colder and less joyful than her depiction of Queen Elizabeth.

Sorely disappointing. 6/10, and I feel that's being fairly generous.
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7/10
Good, Not Great
bobzmcishl3 October 2018
I saw this movie at a sneak preview, and I had high expectations given the hype, but sadly, this was no "The Right Stuff." The problem may lie in the main character on which the movie is based, Neil Armstrong. He is portrayed as a colorless technocrat, who is somewhat cold to his family. The movie focuses mainly on his family relationships, and the landing on the moon is somewhat secondary, therefore the movie lacks a lot of drama. This is unfortunate since Armstrong led a very charmed life as a fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut. The movie covers three of his serious incidents while flying, and he had at least three more, that could have been covered in a miniseries. A miniseries would have allowed for more in-depth probing of how Armstrong became the man he was. The main characters all suffer from superficial once overs. The astronauts were all household names but you wouldn't know it from this movie. The movie also had a hard time capturing just how terrifying some of the events were. Apollo 13 did a far better job of recounting the terror of that flight. Claire Foy as the wife was ok but she also had a degree of coldness about her. The movie also glosses over the misplaced disdain military pilots had for their civilian counterparts. The complaint was that civilian pilots by virtue of their engineering training were too mechanical and not true flyers. This was not true of Armstrong who got his pilots license at the age of 17. The movie should have started there. He was considered a brilliant engineer by his peers, and he was rightfully selected to be the commander of Apollo 11. That brilliance is not captured on screen. By the end of his career he had flown over 200 different aircraft. He was a giant. I think the movie should have brought that out.
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5/10
It's a good thing I'm not a director
gibbo-7720514 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Having read "First Man", the Armstrong biography, I was looking forward to the movie immensely. I personally found it bizarre that it started with Karen already gravely ill. There was no emotional attachment at all. There was no mention of Armstrong's fascination with flight, no mention of joining the navy in order to attend Purdue, leading to his near-fatal Korean war flight experience with the missing wingtip. If I was directing I would have started with his childhood fascination with flight, his scrimping and saving to pay for flying lessons, the fact that he obtained his pilot's licence before his car licence and then I would have built an emotional attachment with Janet and Karen. During the lunar descent, when the very dramatic 1202 and 1201 programme alarms occurred, I would have built the dramatic tension instead of drowning out all the drama with loud music. I would have built the drama with the 30 seconds of fuel remaining and showed the relief at Mission Control when the Eagle touched down safely. I would have showed the discussions concerning crew positions in the lunar module, resulting in Commander Armstrong exiting prior to Buzz and thereby becoming the first to put his boots on the lunar surface. I would have showed the aftermath of reaching his childhood dream, where he was required (along with Buzz and Mike) to tour the world ceaselessly, spotlighted in the limelight and hating every minute of it. It's a good thing I'm not a director because that's probably what everyone expected, whereas this film is a very different treatment. Some great visual effects and good acting and I liked the way Apollo 1 was handled - it was very respectful. However, I felt the film missed a lot of what made Neil tick - it was hard to engage.
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4/10
Way too slow and untidy camera work
phil-160-33899716 October 2018
Came watching this with high expectations but was kinda bored by it, actually my wife did literally fall asleep in the cinema.

As many have said there were too many facial close ups and too much shakiness, a lot less would have worked.

The story made Buzz Aldrin out to be very dislikable and totally put Mike Collins into the back ground. Whilst this film is about Neil Armstrong these guys also went to the moon (apparently) too, so a little bit more respect with their characters would have been nice.

This film had great potential but it focussed to heavily in many wrong areas and this was it's ultimate let down.

Save your money and wait for hit to hit the internet.
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4/10
Over-long, over-hyped, over-rated
ozjosh0316 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
The only real distinction of First Man may be that it's the first over-hyped and over-rated film of next year's Oscar crop. It's a film that is dismally defeated by its own subject matter at every turn. First it wants to be an illuminating, insightful study of Neil Armstrong. But on the evidence of everything it offers, Armstrong was simply not that interesting. If the most startling discovery about your hero is that he was sad about his infant daughter's death, then you're already in deep trouble. Nor is it hugely surprising that a guy who is dedicated to preparing for a mission to the moon isn't exactly a well-rounded, socially adept human being. But many a fascinating film has been built around a cerebral, emotionally-distant, socially awkward character, right? True enough, but it takes an actor with a much greater skill set than Ryan Gosling to make such a character interesting. First Man is essentially two hours of Gosling mooching around trying to find some way of making Armstrong's interior life compelling. That he fails isn't entirely due to his own shortcomings as an actor, but to a screenplay that does little more than rely on his good looks and the "glamour" of the space race to make Armstrong interesting. But the second big fail of First Man is that it doesn't offer us anything particularly new or interesting about the moon mission. Chazelle's strategy is to eschew the cliches of space movies - the focus on technology and the astronaut's eye view - and stay close on his heroes through interminable sequences in juddering space capsules. There's nothing new about this, other than it being the main, sometimes sole focus. Unfortunately, it becomes tedious long before we get to Apollo 11's trek to the moon. Even the ultimate moon sequence offers little that we don't already know from the grainy footage of the real event that everyone has seen hundreds of times. In short, the term "epic fail" could have been invented to describe First Man.
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5/10
Too long and boring
beavanjb3 March 2019
Gosling was terrible in his wooden acting. The director did a poor job in filming the flight scenes, all from the cockpit where you couldn't see what was going on. I'm guessing this story would have been better told through a PBS special then they did here.
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4/10
I understand what the movie was trying to achieve but....OMG it was so boring
cliff_bd23 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I really liked the idea and I kinda liked the movie but I found it to be disjointed and slow...... I loved the part of the movie when Neil Armstrong was on the Moon and he dropped his dead daughters braclet into the crater .... to let her go

The rest of the movie was good and at times challenging to watch....
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2/10
Have the critics never seen any films about the space program before?
mcw-174236 February 2019
Warning: Spoilers
This film was beyond hackneyed. From the silly overuse of closeups to the nauseating 'shaky cam' there was no cliche' left untouched. It's sad to think that this film has been nominated for several Oscars - an will probably win. There is so much wrong with this film but the most egregious thing about it, (If I had to pick just one) is Ryan Gosling's wooden, detached, so-called "performance". Yes, Neil Armstrong was a reserved, quiet man that often seemed shy to a fault, but anyone like myself that's seen lots of footage of him could plainly see that he was a man that was not without a sense of humor and a genuine boyish smile. Even with the tragedy of losing his daughter, he believed in what he was doing and took enormous joy from doing a job well done. He was a true American hero - quit and confident, unflappable, but totally absorbed in getting it right. I have read about his troubled home life but I truly thought the "warts and all" approach to biopics vanished with the 1990's. If you want to see a soap opera that just happens to have a few scenes about the space program and going to the moon, then you may enjoy this movie. Otherwise, strap yourself in for one long, boring ride with lots of faces, faces, faces and more faces while your eyes strain to focus on constantly slightly moving images. The parts of the film that dealt with the actual NASA stuff were relatively well done, but all of it has been done before and to much greater effect. If you think you're going to see something in the vein of Apollo 13 or HBO's From the Earth to the Moon, prepare yourself for a mountain of disappointment. I am one of those that love anything about the space program, particularly the Apollo portion of it, but this film delivers none of the sense of awe and grandeur that should go along with mankind's greatest technological achievement. Hard to believe that a director could take something so monumental and boil it down to such a boring, depressing tale chock full of uninteresting, dull people. My recommendation is to avoid this crap altogether. All of the hype about omitting the planting of the American flag was just was needless as the film fails with or without that particular scene.
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8/10
Excellent Understated Biopic
Jared_Andrews16 October 2018
The opening scene will take your breath away. I don't think a single cell in my body flinched for a solid five minutes as I watched Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) fight to keep his craft from floating away into space. The scene is spectacular visually and in every sense of filmmaking execution. It's also a bit misleading.

The rest of the movie, aside from the moon landing, is remarkably tame. It's quiet. There are virtually no loud outbursts or emotional speeches. This story is about people doing their jobs, completing their missions. Gosling understands this and plays to Armstrong's stoicism perfectly. He is often an understated actor, choosing to let his subtle facial movements and glints of the eyes do as much talking as what actually comes out of his mouth. Neil is much the same except even less outwardly expressive. He clearly comes from a generation that did not display emotion. They suffered in silence, which no doubt frustrated many family members, especially spouses.

Armstrong's wife Janet (Claire Foy) is a classic case of a spouse desperate to glimpse beyond his emotional shield. She restrains for the most part, but her building frustration is apparent throughout. When she finally does unleash her emotions, it's startling. Her outbursts stand out in such stark contrast to the silence that we see from the other characters. Foy is smart and measured with every choice she makes, and she never comes across as unhinged or overly supportive to a point of unbelievability. She's strong as a quiet devoted partner and strong when she senses the need to speak up. Look for her to add another award nomination to her resume come that time of year.

For as great as Gosling and Foy are, Damien Chazelle is the star of this movie, just like he has been the star of every one of his movies. I don't mean this as a bad thing. They guy is simply so skilled at what he does that his impact stands out among all the other standouts in his movies. He doesn't take the conventional approach to a space movie, which is to hammer viewers with showy visuals and action sequences. He's careful not to overdo it those areas, instead focusing on Armstrong's psyche and life outside the space shuttle. Chazelle crafts a personal, intimate film and shoots it in a creative way that uses a variety of framing choices so the closeups never feel stale.

This is a giant story told on a deliberately small scale. The choice to focus on Armstrong's objectively less captivating homelife rather than the moon mission is risky. Only the most talented of filmmakers, which Chazelle is, could pull it off. "First Man" is another showcase of Chazelle's mastery. He's one of the best directors currently working. The fact that this film may eventually be considered Chazelle's 6th or 7th best and is still this excellent, is a tribute to his talent.
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6/10
Aesthetically laudable, emotionally vapid
Bertaut27 October 2018
More an intimate character drama than a grandiose examination of man's place in the cosmos, First Man is far more concerned with domesticity than the actual journey to the moon, attempting to demonstrate that behind the great moments of history exist personal demons and private motivations. Nothing wrong with that of course - contextualising small character beats against a larger historical canvas can produce excellent cinema. Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line (1998), for example, uses the Battle of Guadalcanal as the background against which to engage all manner of personalised existential Heideggerian philosophical conundrums, whilst Michael Mann's Ali (2001) is more interested in Ali's private struggles outside the ring than his public bouts within it. However, for this kind of storytelling to work, one thing is essential - emotional connection. The audience must, in some way, care about the people on screen, otherwise their introspective problems are more than likely to feel like they are just getting in the way of the larger story. And that is exactly what happens in First Man - there is a lifelessness at the film's core, an emotional vapidity that can't be filled by exceptional technical achievements and laudable craft. The film attempts to celebrate Project Gemini and the Apollo Program, whilst also working as a character study of a man known for his emotional taciturnity. And whilst it achieves the former, the film's Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) is so stoic and closed-off as to be virtually disconnected from the rest of humanity.

Based on James R. Hansen's 2005 biography, First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, the film begins in 1961, and hits all the beats you would expect in the lead up to the Apollo 11 mission in 1969; the death of his daughter, Karen (Lucy Stafford) from a brain tumour; his acceptance into Project Gemini; NASA's shock at the Soviet's successes in the Space Race; his selection as commander of Gemini 8; the death of Ed White (Jason Clarke), Gus Grissom (Shea Whigham), and Roger Chaffee (Cory Michael Smith) during a plugs-out test of Apollo 1; Armstrong's selection as commander of Apollo 11; his marriage problems with his first wife, Janet (Claire Foy); the lunar landing alongside Buzz Aldrin (Corey Stoll); and his private sojourn to the Lunar East crater.

With this framework, the film remains tied almost exclusively to Armstrong's perspective, with the occasional shift to Janet. This sets up something of a problem, as the real-life Armstrong was very much a reluctant celebrity/national hero, and despite his extraordinary accomplishments, he was not the most interesting, relatable, or easy-to-empathise-with-individual. With this in mind, the film sets itself the task of attempting to penetrate this most private of men, explaining why he was so singularly driven, even to the detriment of his family, to the point where not only did he plan not to tell his children he may not return from the Apollo 11 mission, he intended to leave without saying goodbye at all, until Janet changed his mind. And herein lies perhaps the film's most egregious failing. It's almost as if director Damien Chazelle and screenwriter Josh Singer think the Apollo 11 mission isn't interesting enough by itself - there needs to be some kind of deeper "why" behind the whole enterprise.

In any case, the attempts to tease out the inner workings of Armstrong's mind don't really work, as he remains very much in his own world, impenetrable to both the other characters and the audience - no matter what Gosling, Chazelle, and Singer do to dress him up, Armstrong comes across as aloof and interiorised. Partly at fault here is Gosling's performance, with its fulcrum of emotionless stoic masculinity. This is a performance we've seen him give several times before - in The Believer (2001), Drive (2011), and, especially, Blade Runner 2049 (2017) - and this familiarity doesn't help matters. Instead of giving the character hidden depth, the few discernible traits he possesses make him something of a cardboard cut-out, a 21st-century screenwriter's idea of what an American man who grew up in the 40s and 50s should be (complete with retconned political correctness).

Another issue is that the filmmakers choose to locate Armstrong's primary motivation in the death of his daughter, which is presented with a mawkish sentimentality that, at best, fails to convince, and, at worst, actively distracts. With the lunar mission presented as much about advancing mankind as it is dealing with personal trauma, Chazelle goes to great lengths to link Karen's death with Armstrong's determination - as she is dying, he holds her and looks wistfully into the sky; after her funeral, he slips her bracelet into a drawer; later, he has an hallucinatory vision of her playing with other children; and on the moon's surface, he drops a bracelet belonging to her into the Lunar East crater and cries a few tears. At one point, Janet reveals that he never mentioned Karen after the funeral, and that's a believable, and deeply emotional, detail. The problem lies in the overkill surrounding it, detracting from whatever genuine emotion such details should evoke. Every time we see Gosling stare yearningly into the sky, the potency of the film is diluted just a little bit more.

Did he really drop the bracelet into the crater? The answer is, we don't know. During his interviews with Armstrong and Janet for the biography, Hansen formulated the theory that maybe Neil left something for Karen on the surface. However, when Hansen asked Armstrong if he could see the manifest for the mission, Armstrong told him he had lost it, something which would have been highly out of character for such a fastidious record-keeper. In fact, he hadn't lost it, he had donated it to the Purdue University Archives, but it is under seal until 2020. However, when Hansen asked Armstrong's sister June if it was possible he had left something of Karen's, she said that it was. So, the fact is we don't know what Armstrong did when he wandered over to the crater (his sojourn there was literally the only part of the landing that wasn't by-the-book). However, for me, the whole thing comes across as far too syrupy, an amateur psychological profiling of a man who was intensely private. Personally, I would have much preferred the Lunar East trip to remain a mystery - by showing us what they think might have happened, Hansen, Singer, and Chazelle cheapen the intensely personal nature of the moment, which Armstrong obviously chose to keep secret for a reason.

Aesthetically, Chazelle wastes absolutely no time in letting us know that this is Armstrong's film, with the excellent opening sequence taking place primarily from his POV. However, the scene also introduces the first example of Chazelle's pungent romanticism. As the shaking of Armstrong's X-15 momentarily stops, and the noise dies away, a majestic sense of calm descends. However, rather than trust the audience to extract their own interpretation of the moment, Chazelle can't resist a BCU of Gosling's eyes, with the curvature of the earth reflecting on his visor. On the other hand, a well-handled aspect of this technique is that because the film adheres so rigidly to Armstrong's perspective, very little of what he himself can't see is shown. So, for example, instead of depicting the vast infinite expanses of space, Chazelle keeps the audience tucked tightly inside the Eagle landing module up to the point of the descent to Tranquility Base.

Indeed, make no mistake, the lunar landing itself is beyond spectacular, with Justin Hurwitz's incredible music and Linus Sandgren's superb cinematography coming into their own. The sequence was shot in 70mm IMAX, and it makes extraordinary use of the larger frame, with the first panorama of the lunar surface almost as awe-inspiring as anything in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) or The Tree of Life (2011). An especially well-directed part of the lunar descent is that rather than lay down a busy foley track, Chazelle pulls out the sound altogether, creating an eerie, otherworldly moment that literally gave me goosebumps.

However, despite the magisterial last 30 minutes, and some sporadically well-handled moments, First Man is underwhelming, and, for long portions, interminably dull. As good as that final sequence is, it's no compensation for the plodding and lifeless two hours that precede it. And overall, the film isn't a patch on The Right Stuff (1983).
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4/10
Glacially-paced, muddled film
rac70114 October 2018
"First Man," the highly anticipated (partial) bio-pic about Neil Armstrong, the commander of NASA's Apollo 11 mission and the first man (thus the title) to walk on the moon, is a muddled mess.

Director Damien Chazelle's film-making choices, from shaky, way-too-close cinema verite close-ups and long, long silences (OK, OK, we know Neil Armstrong was a Silent Sam type) to banging, shaking, roaring and rattling blackout shots where the viewer can't understand what's going on, to lack of exposition (about precisely that -- what's going on), to Armstrong's constantly angry wife, are not only disorienting, but unpleasantly distracting.

This film can't hold a candle to superior films like "The Right Stuff," "Apollo 13," or the excellent made-for-cable HBO series "From the Earth to the Moon."

Neil Armstrong deserved much better than this.
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4/10
The gloomiest, saddest, darkest movie in a very long time
mkaronis12 October 2018
Something went very wrong with this movie. Apollo 13 - a grandiose movie about a failed mission, while this one is a failed movie about the most outstanding, successful human mission so far. What a wreck!
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9/10
From Utterly Terrifying Spaceflight To Raw Emotional Gut-Punch, First Man is Setllar
BlurayAddictAU28 September 2018
First Man, directed by Damien Chazelle cold opens with that I could only describe as an absolutely terrifying look at what it was like to be a test pilot in the 60's, you hear every little nut and bolt warping and you feel every massive unnerving vibration for what felt like an eternity. This set the tone for the rest of the film and signalled that we were in for one hell of a ride.

And yet First Man is not just a bunch of planes and rockets flying around, in fact the entire Film is mostly more focused on Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) and how all of these event leading up to the Moon Landing affected him, specifically his mental state. This is where the film absolutely excels, by chronicling his journey from test pilot all the way to Apollo, losing friends along the way.

Gosling and Claire Foy push out really stellar performances here, the relationship between the two seems very very plausible and there is a lot of very emotionally charged scenes between them throughout. The supporting cast is packed to the brim with recognisable faces too, a standout for me was Jason Clarke's performance as Ed White, the first American to EVA in space who at first I thought I really wasn't going to like the character but by the mid-point of the film I was sold.

One of the qualities of First Man that I noticed almost instantly was the very unique Cinematography which most of the time uses handheld medium to long telephoto shots creating a very intimate and raw look to the images on screen. The other main quality visually is the fact that most of the film was shot with 2-perf Techniscope film which gives a very organic vintage look, usually i'd take issue with a lower resolution stock for a film like this but here it really fits in with the overall aesthetics.

In First Man we do get some really ridiculously stellar space sequences, the way these are edited and shot create almost pure dread, in fact the only time I have felt this on edge was when I saw Gravity for the first time, it is that bloody good. Production design is fantastic and of course when we get to the Apollo sequence the images on the screen are graceful and an utterly mesmerising experience.

From impeccably shot terrifying spaceflight to absolute gut wrenching heartbreak, First Man is something to be seen on the biggest screen possible with the loudest sound. I highly recommend this film and the moment this comes out in UltraHD you can be sure I'll be there Day 1.

Thanks to Universal Pictures Australia for the invite to the Premiere.
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4/10
First Man (to leave the theater)
marconjx15 October 2018
In my opinion First Man fails on multiple levels. From a historical perspective, there is nearly no conveyance to the audience about the political motivation that was behind the entire program to get an American on the Moon before the Soviets. The Soviets' lead in the "space race" prior to the Apollo program had been considered an existential threat in the struggle for the hearts and minds of humanity and the American government considered it essential to win the race to the Moon. While the American flag is seen at a distance next to the lunar module, the actual planting of the flag on the moon was, in a certain sense, the entire raison d'être for the Apollo program and yet this moment was completely ignored by director Chazelle, making such a blatant omission seem an intentional anti-American political statement. From a cinematic perspective, Chazelle seems obsessive in his constant use of closeups for even mundane moments and downright abusive in his use of "shaky shots" during moments of physical trauma. I always feel "cheated" when a director wimps out by an excessive use of shaky-shots as a cheap way to avoid the expense and creative effort otherwise required to depict what is actually happening to cause trauma. From an acting and character development perspective, none of the characters gain our sympathy or empathy in this film. Its as if they are all reading their lines from a script rather than investing themselves with the spirit of the people they are supposed to be portraying. Armstrong, in particular, is portrayed by Gosling as extremely unemotional and cool, even when saying goodbye, perhaps forever, to his wife and children. And while Armstrong may or may not have been that way, it seems overdone in this film. Strangest of all was Claire Foy's depiction of Janet Armstrong who is portrayed as constantly annoyed with her husband and resentful of the sacrifices he had to make as the first human selected to set foot on the moon. I find it hard to believe that Armstrong's wife could have been this way in reality and if she was not then Chazelle and Foy have done her a great disservice. Finally, from a story-arc perspective, the movie's pace is plodding with Chazelle spending way too much time on the familial interactions of the Armstrong clan. While this may stem from the fact the movie was based on a biography of Armstrong rather than upon a depiction of the Apollo mission itself, the fact that this was, as far as I know, the first major cinematic portrayal of mankind's first voyage to the moon really deserved a much more expansive treatment than it receives in this film. I am confident that this film will not be, nor should it be, the definitive telling of America's triumphant landing of man on the moon, a story that is epic and will require a director with an epic vision to tell the tale. It is with regret that I say that this movie and this director were not up to that task.
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4/10
Like watching a metronome.
biggiebaby17 October 2018
Gosling at his one dimensional best. Cluncky and disjointed, the story rides along like a low budget wannabe art film, but, with high budget actors. No character development to speak of just long lonesome staring off to the right of the camera lens. With the possible exception of the ubiquitous wife/mother scene demanding emotions from the husband/father. First Man Joins the ranks of movies you'll watch once and never again.
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5/10
The Wrong Stuff
aylwardpaul12 October 2018
Boring and self-important. The photography of nearly all action scenes is a real disappointment. The film misses way too many opportunities to tell what should be an enthralling story. You are better served watching The Right Stuff, The Martian, or Apollo 13.
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2/10
Ryan Gosling: Man or robot??
simonhowe-3501724 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Wow. I've seen a few movies about the space race before, and generally they have a mixed spectrum of quality but are mostly enjoyable. This one for me, was almost completely devoid of any enjoyability.

Ryan Gosling plays Neil Armstrong, and I expressed concerns about this to my friends before. My concerns were not unfounded. He seems to me to be simply unable to convey any emotion at all. I get that as an astronaut and test-pilot, he needed a cool head, but there's a big difference between keeping a cool head, and simply looking bored and disinterested all the time.

Also, I get the tragedy of the death of Armstrong's young daughter, and the stresses this and the very nature of his career put on his wife and family life; but they've taken a 9 year segment of the most daring technological, and human achievement in human history, and made it slow, ponderous and boring.

The massive over-use of handheld cameras to make it feel like you're actually there was really irritating to me. I want the story to tell itself without me actually being in the room with all the characters all the time. Especially when Armstrong's wife is trying to listen to the NASA broadcast of spaceflight comms, and her son steals the radio and won't give it back. It just made me feel awkward in my cinema seat; by all means play the scene, but I don't want to feel like I'm in the room with them.

There were a few good bits, like his test-flight at the beginning of the movie, but my overall experience was that they somehow managed to make a story about landing the first man in history on the moon, a very boring experience.

The Right Stuff, this is not.
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2/10
Snorefest to the Moon
surfingthebigwave16 July 2019
With no disrespect to the director here, but seriously this movie was the ultimate boring snorefest. Ryan Gosling who is usually very charismatic was diluted and dull here. Claire Foy (Girl who Played with Fire) was probably the only one who gave any real ounce of emotion to this otherwise lacklustre film. I thoroughly enjoyed both Whiplash + La La Land but this was ridiculous. True story or not, this was film was a dud in my opinion. By the way he lands on the moon. Cool eh? Only after nearly 3hrs too. A handful of funerals. Multiple gone wrong accidents. Snorefest.
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1/10
An amazing story in search of a motion picture home - The story's still searching.
ericcchristensen20 October 2018
I was 12 when Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the Moon, and witnessing that moment in history was transformative for me. I spent the next 50 years writing professionally about, among other topics, space exploration and manned space flight for numerous publications. That's why I was so excited when I heard about this movie being made. I was hoping that, not since Tom Hanks' superlative HBO mini-series, "From the Earth to the Moon," Hollywood would tell one of the most incredible stories of modern day bravery and scientific accomplishment in a manner and on a scale it deserves.

I'm still waiting. "First Man," is little more than a series of barely connected vignettes in Neil Armstrong's life. There is no dramatic narrative to speak of in the film, and nothing that conveys the daunting nature or shear human magnitude of the race to the Moon in the 1960s. As portrayed by Ryan Gosling, the part of Neil Armstrong is a virtually nonspeaking role. He's perpetually morose, and has a range of facial expressions running the gamete from blank to slightly frowny. If you walk into the movie theater with little or no foreknowledge about Neil Armstrong or the early space program, you will leave in virtually the same condition. You will have learned nothing about how or why the early astronauts were such unique individuals, let alone how they were required to meet nearly impossible standards of training, expertise and experience to even be allowed to apply for the job. Your ignorance will go undisturbed about the substantial sacrifices made by members of the astronaut corps and their families - and by the thousands of scientists, engineers and others who contributed the entirety of their personal and professional lives - to make real the dream of the, "giant leap for mankind," given voice to by a martyred president in 1961.

You will also gain scant, if any, insight into what it meant to nearly every American and billions of people around the world, that humans had set foot on another celestial body. The degree and nature of how it changed - and could have changed - both Neil Armstrong's life and individuals everywhere, also didn't make it into the movie, either. In short, "First Man," is an empty spacesuit of a movie more notable for all of the elements of good storytelling and honest humanity that are absent from it. Leap giantly right over it and watch any of the many better cinematic treatments of the subject.
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1/10
I remember the moon landing and it was exciting.
mjsparker16 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I'm aware that this movie is about the titular first man, Neil Armstrong and yet this seemingly interminable film sucks all the excitement and awe out of one of mankind's greatest achievements. It's sad that the Armstrong's lost a daughter to cancer and that it seems one of their sons was on the Autism spectrum. Stylistically the use of hand held camera added nothing to the narrative as also the too many close ups. The musical choices seemed odd and out of place from the banal to the bombastic final piece. Overall it was like watching a documentary about the making of the film about the moon landing with this particular film unit tasked with following the Armstrong's.
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3/10
Do not go if you suffer motion sickness!!
deeble18514 October 2018
I went to see this movie with my partner, her mother and a 14 year old cousin. While we all appreciated it, that was the strongest recommendation from any of us. My major problem with the film was the "action" camera work. While I understand that hand held shots lead to a greater sense of immediacy, having the camera 10 cm away from the subject and shaking it violently did not draw me in, rather it repulsed me. I literally closed my eyes for any sequence where this effect was used, as it was hurting me to watch it. As far as the story goes, it felt incredibly slow and distanced. In the interpretation of Armstrong as a person, it seemed to drive me away from relating to him or the situation, and I had no sense of the grandeur or the excitement that should have accompanied such a story. I was tempted to see this movie by the 2013 webby award winning site, and I can still say that the actual recordings are much more engaging than this film.
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6/10
Bore-opic
peggynight-2425813 October 2018
Overall, I have to say, I found this pretty boring. Felt like I'd gone to church or something, if you can dig that type of boredom. Kind of a bewildered boredom that you can't put your finger on, but you know you'd have rather been doing something else. Almost anything else.

Yes, it told the story from the human side, from the side of a father and husband. Yes it was nice that the film wasn't over-glamorised with a whole heap of American chest-beating and back-slapping; if anything it showed the petty pride of the space race perhaps for what it was: a dick-swinging contest. And yes, it showed just how primitive 60s tech was, as though they were being strapped into a rocket-tomb. But boy is this film dry. When it ended I felt underwhelmed and wanting more.

Great acting from the two leads, who held the space really well. Certainly didn't find this 'visually stunning' as some reviews have said; I thought the visual treatment of the film was well considered and appropriate in that it felt very mid 60s. In fact, that's how I'd describe the film: considered and appropriate. Except for the music/score, which was c grade. But do we go to films because they're considered and appropriate? I know my father does. Yawn.
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