Film Review: 'First Man' is Reverential to Moon Landing Mission

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CHICAGO – There were several “firsts” for humankind in our civilization and technology breakthroughs, but until 1969 no person had even stepped on a planetary surface other than on earth. Neil Armstrong was that man, and he is portrayed by Ryan Gosling in a respectful overview of that Apollo 11 mission in “First Man.” Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

The film is directed by Damien Chazelle of “La La Land,” and nobody would ever accuse him of sitting back on his laurels. He has taken his time as an artist to pursue different genres of storytelling, and “First Man” is a based-on-history drama of high order. The slowly paced film breaks down the pursuit to get to the moon… part geopolitics, part discovery and all adventure. Neil Armstrong was a famously reticent man, and actor Ryan Gosling is perfect to interpret that part of him. The actor’s infamous stone face is super-astronaut appropriate, but he also reaches the human side of the American moon hero. For persons who remember this magic moment in U.S. history, the film brings it back emotionally, and not without a tinge of regret for not ever having gone back after 1972, the last journey there.

Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) is a test pilot in the early 1960s, pushing new aircraft to the limits under Chuck “The Right Stuff” Yeager. When a position opens up at NASA to be part of the ramp up to the Apollo moon missions, Armstrong signs up. This means uprooting his wife (Claire Foy) and family, still mourning the untimely death of their toddler daughter.

He joins his fellow astronauts, and most of them living in the same neighborhood. Ed White (Jason Clarke), Jim Lovell (Pablo Schreiber) and Pete Conrad (Ethan Embry) are overseen at NASA by Deke Slayton (Kyle Chandler), among others, and over the years the difficulties of sending human beings to another spheroid through space looked impossible. As Armstrong’s team is gathered for the historic journey, including Buzz Aldrin (Corey Stoll), the lunar surface beckons.

“First Man” opens everywhere on October 12th. Featuring Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll and Jason Clarke. Screenplay adapted by Josh Singer. Directed by Damien Chazelle. Rated “PG-13”

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “First Man”

Men Seeking Space: Ryan Gosling is Neil Armstrong in ‘First Man’
Photo credit: Universal Pictures

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “First Man”

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