'First Man' Shoots For The Moon And Lands There

Ryan Gosling delivers subtle and powerful performance as Neil Armstrong

October 16, 2018
Damien Chazelle and star RYAN GOSLING reteam for Universal Pictures' "First Man," the riveting story of NASA's mission to land a man on the moon, focusing on Neil Armstrong and the years 1961-1969.

© 2018 Universal Studios and Storyteller Distribution Co. LLC

Categories: 

To call 'First Man' anything less than a marvel would be a mistake as big as our solar system.

Ryan Gosling's performance as Neil Armstrong is restrained but beautiful, and despite the lack of dialogue, the character shines.

'First Man' puts you front row in the command seat to view the perils and exhilaration of space flight, and a lot of that is actually thanks to some unique shaky camera work, which is totally on purpose. This should serve as a warning to some of you get a little nauseous or motion sick.

So, how do you tell a story everybody already knows? Director Damien Chazelle saw that challenge, and turned 'First Man' into a family drama about the struggle Neil Armstrong faced outside of NASA, and tying it into his journey to the moon.

It'd be a waste to explain the plot, because *spoiler alert* we landed on the moon in 1969. Its a safe fact to assume most people know this fact. Things start in the early 1960s with Armstrong signing up for Project Gemini, and go from there, ending with Apollo 11 safely returning to Earth.

Along side his wife Janet, played with grace by Claire Foy, Neil Armstrong's layers as a character are explored just as much as the landscape of the moon.

Its not just the cold and dark atmosphere of the moon that can sometimes feel stoic. Gosling's subtle performance can feel a little dull at times. Its one of those movies that, if you were at home, you'd pause for fifteen minutes and come back to. But still appreciate it.

Not saying its bad, but it can get boring at times. Despite that, the emotions are heavy throughout. Themes of life & death weigh heavily on the Armstrong family, and Chazelle makes you feel the weight of every moment.

Some favorite scenes to look forward to are those of Gosling in space. Many of the sequences include flashes of light, with no sound, and dark cinematography that captures the essence of the vacuum of space.

Shot heavily from Armstrong's point of view, the perspective makes the movie feel very (almost too?) real.

The camera work truly makes you feel the bumps and vibrations of the journey. Keep in mind that there's mere inches and some thin metal between Armstrong and the cold, vast reaches of space.

One wrong calculation, and its death. That thought is frightening, and 'First Man' makes you feel that.

As I said, some parts of the movie drag, but the dynamic of Gosling and Foy as the Armstrong's fighting through family drama and the perpetual risk of death associated with space travel, keep the movie going.

Come for Gosling's puppy dog eyes, stay for the amazing score! A strong orchestral sound carries this movie, and composer Justin Hurwitz masterfully scores the film in a unique and tantalizing fashion.

Watch 'First Man.' You'll get it.

Ben At The Box Office rating: 4 out of 5 Buckets of popcorn