A look at the life of astronaut, Neil A. Armstrong, and the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the moon. Based on the book, “First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong”.
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His [Chazelle’s] take on Neil Armstrong’s voyage was never going to be a middle-of-the-road affair: Instead he crafted a masterfully staged re-creation of the space program with utterly compelling physical detail and layers of cinematic immersion that command credence and ensure that the radical and intensively subjective nature of Chazelle’s point-of-view comes as a gradually unveiled shock.
Ryan Gosling’s Armstrong may be frustratingly taciturn, and he may hold the center of the film as an indomitable genius of engineering and piloting savvy. But First Man isn’t a naked ode to that genius; it’s a fascinating study of the costs.
Armstrong’s historic achievement, too, is reductively articulated in terms of a significant personal event and reckoning, limited, like the field of vision aboard a spacecraft, to a single potent explanation.
Some of the best craft of the year, and it deserves credit for finding fresh eyes for claustrophobic space travel and extra-terrestrial surfaces. The drawback is that the story itself has a somewhat mathematical calculation—X plus Y equals emotional stakes—and the result isn't insincere but strangely detached. Much like its hero, in fact. But that the ending rhapsody of human achievement takes it as far as it can go.
One of the most ominous biographies about one of the most magnificent Americans. That is “First Man”. Stimulated by the ghost of his daughter, Neil Armstrong steps into the unprecedented realm, which it's unique is executed like a horror full of ominous atmosphere and death with sublime subjectivity. Its last sequence is like a separation by a person who became a ghost himself and his loved one. Haunting as space.
Chazelle presents a technically marvelous film recreating the Genesis and Apollo projects that led to the moonwalk as well as a solid capture of Neil Armstrong throughout those years. But for something that should really capture the imagination and be significantly moving the film somehow falls a little flat. Casting is solid with Ryan Gosling making a strong impression.
Chazelle smartly avoided any type of artifice in the imagery as well as sentimentality in the drama. Hence, expect lucid space images and not fabricated spectacles, as well as emotions that feel humanely grounded and powerfully mature. “First Man” means a first-rate experience. (4.5 stars)
I can't decide whether the film reduces mankind's greatest achievement to a banality, or whether the blasé, matter-of-fact presentation was its entire raison d'etre, and a means of achieving total subjectivity to the Neil Armstrong character. While a technical marvel worth beholding on the big screen, I think Chazelle may have forgotten to entertain us along the way.
At first I was underwhelmed by the film upon exiting the theatre, thinking that that this was nowhere near the energetic, entertaining, joyful to watch LA LA LAND. But a week has passed and I am still can't get it's technical mastery, Gosling's subtle low-key performance, and its relatively quiet approach out of my head. And then it hit me: this is the N'golo Kante to LA LA LAND's Eden Hazard.
First Man tries to get inside Armstrong’s head and often gets lost in it. For a film that is about such a momentous feat, it's a cold, distant affair and an inexplicably emotionlessness experience. Chazelle's film becomes laborious to watch and offers far too few moments of pure enjoyment. By the time we get to the stunning IMAX moon landing sequence, I just wanted the film to be over. A missed opportunity.
Wins no awards for diversity ('Hidden Figures' this is not) but as a biopic of NASA's Apollo 11 mission, it's perfectly competent and engaging. Every actor has been in a better film, and this won't outstage Chazelle's own 'Whiplash', yet there's enough of merit with the claustrophobic representation of a successful moon landing attempt. It is the attention to detail which raises this above average.