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"First Man" Movie Review

Nathan is a film critic and aspiring author with a true passion for the film industry who hopes his writings will help launch his career.


Have you ever left a film feeling empty, like you got the basics of what you needed but you wanted more than that? That's how First Man was for me. That's not to say that it wasn't a good film because it most certainly was. Its problem was that it felt hollow, like it gave you the shell of the egg but not the egg itself. There was very little emotion and, for a two-and-a-half-hour film, it felt very rushed in several places but unnecessarily expanded in other areas.

First Man follows Neil Armstrong from 1961 to 1969, from his days as a pilot to applying to NASA and ending with the lunar landing. While Neil was the main subject, we were given some interesting insight into other Apollo missions and their astronauts.

Let's start with the positives. First, the acting from the brilliant cast was spectacular. Every performance felt real and the tension building up throughout the film was expressed perfectly through each character. Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy worked very well together, oftentimes behaving like they actually were married. They certainly sold their parts and were never unsatisfying in their roles. Jason Clarke was the next best performer, bringing an ounce or two of humor into the film to relieve the drama and tension. Secondly, Damien Chazelle splendidly directed the film in the perfect way. He made the audience feel like they were part of the mission, like they were in space alongside Neil and Buzz.

The biggest downside the film had was that it focused far too heavily on the politics of the time instead of the astronauts' preparation and training. Maybe it's just me, but I don't care what some rich politician thinks about space travel. I'm interested in seeing how training was accomplished in the 60s and how Neil was prepared for something that no one really knew anything about. The second biggest problem the film had was that it didn't move me emotionally until the final few minutes. With everything Neil experienced and went through, it seems like there would be more tearjerking moments than just one at the very end.

In conclusion, the film was good and it was captivating in many respects. It had a few issues but overall, it did what it set out to do which was tell Mr. Armstrong's story. Could it have been improved? Sure, but it succeeded where it counted. I give the film a 3 out of 4.

© 2018 Nathan Jasper