Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
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Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and the rest of the infamous seven pilots who were the basis for the Apollo 11 launch back in the 60s are things of legends. We all know the infamous “One small step” line, and countless films have been made about the superstars, including the amazing The Right Stuff back in 1983. However, First Man promised to be really really good, as the director of La La Land and Whiplash was basing his take on Neil Armstrong off of the authorized autobiography of the man, which took a much different view on it than the lionized book that Tom Wolfe wrote back in 1979. However, the film’s production was surrounded by controversy as some sources stated that director Damien Chazelle was cutting out the flag being planted on the moon, as well as back and forth conspiracies about taking down the legend that was these brave men. After a year of these controversies it came out to thunderous applause, and people realizing that it was not the travesty they were expecting, but rather a fascinating character drama that enthralls and pulls you into the pain, sacrifice and grit that it took to make this happen.
Back in the 1960s we were playing catch up to the Soviets in the space race. Every time we got something done, the Soviets got there a bit earlier. With the Russians releasing Sputnik recently NASA decided to make a go at something that even the Russians hadn’t thought of. They were going to bypass putting up more satellites and instead go straight for the impossibility of putting a human being on the moon itself. The task was daunting for sure, as this had never been attempted before. Even worse, this was 50 years prior to today’s technology and getting a rocket up without incident was still a shaky prospect. Pilot Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) has just lost his 2 year old daughter to brain cancer and is looking for a new start, and that new start just so happens to be an open casting call for pilots to come and work for NASA on a special project. The grieving father takes the long risk after getting grounded for a wonky mission and suddenly lands the role of a lifetime. The opportunity to be one of 7 men chosen for the space walk pool.
While an experienced pilot, Neil is not prepared for the sheer brutality of the training. Gut wrenching zero g gravity spins, long hours, and tons of time away from his family. While Neil is not exactly the loving and emotional person type after his daughter’s death, his constant time away certainly puts a strain on his and wife Janet’s (Claire Foy) relationship. The man is putting his heart and soul into a job that could certainly kill him, and all he can do to give comfort is say “well, we’re going to try and come back”. It doesn’t help matters any when the project suffers a series of devastating setbacks, with shuttles blowing up, a botched docking procedure, and a fire taking the lives of 3 of the 7 pilots. However, American ingenuity and the bravery of hundreds of brilliant scientists can keep the mission at bay, and history unfolds in one of the most inspiring tales of human perseverance known to us today.
It’s not a wild adventure, but First Man is hypnotically addicting from the get go. The movie follows a slow and steady pace (sometimes a bit TOO slow, the one fault that I had with the movie that made me knock it down from a 5/5 to a 4.5/5 film), but it is completely enthralling. Gosling makes the role his own and the sheer intensity of the movie is so subversive that you don’t realize just HOW intense it is until the final moments of the movie where you realize that you’ve been holding your breath and didn’t even realize it. I myself was worried that this was going to be a politically correct and scrubbed movie like the rumors were saying it would be, but I was thankful to see that those rumors were pretty much faulty (and I’m the right wing guy who can bitterly detect political correctness and PC culture a mile away!), and that the end result was a fantastic drama.
Rated PG-13 for some thematic content involving peril, and brief strong language
4K Video: Video:
• Shooting for the Moon – Take an intimate look at the production of First Man and the collaborative relationship between Director Damien Chazelle and Ryan Gosling.
• Preparing to Launch – It's difficult to believe that First Man is the first major feature film to tell the journey of Apollo 11. Hear from Director Damien Chazelle and his cast why now is the time to tell the story of this historic event.
• Giant Leap in One Small Step – A heroic character study, First Man sheds light on all the hard working individuals that got us to the moon and back.
• Mission Gone Wrong – Watch as Ryan Gosling reenacts a test piloting sequence gone terribly wrong. Go behind the scenes to see how he trained to nail the landing, performing the majority of his own stunts.
• Putting You In the Seat – Through the use of innovative technology, most of First Man was shot in-camera. Take an in-depth look behind the lens of this epic film.
• Recreating the Moon Landing – Filmed in IMAX to show the vastness of the moon, find out all that it took to recreate the most famous moment in NASA history.
• Shooting at NASA – Hear from Ryan Gosling and Director Damien Chazelle on how shooting at NASA brought unparalleled authenticity to First Man.
• Astronaut Training – Go behind the scenes of the three day boot camp each of the actors underwent prior to filming First Man.
• Feature Commentary with Director Damien Chazelle, Screenwriter Josh Singer and Editor Tom Cross
First Man is a fantastic character drama that is much more intent on telling the story of the man BEHIND the mission rather than focus on the famous mission itself. It’s compelling, long, and ultimately very satisfying as it culminates in the legendary “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” moment that we’ve all been waiting for. There’s not a lot of flash and style to the movie, but it director Damien Chazelle keeps you glued to the screen for the near 2 ½ hour run time. The video and audio are incredible on the 4K and Blu-ray discs, and along with some meaty extras makes for a must watch experience.
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll, Patrick Fugit, Christopher Abbott, Cirian Hinds, Pablo Schreiber
Directed by: Damien Chazelle
Written by: Josh Singer (Screenplay), James R. Hansen (Novel)
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 / 1.78:1 HEVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), French, Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Runtime: 141 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: January 22nd, 2019
Recommendation: Must Watch