First Man: Review by Kush Hayes
First Man is more a story about a man bottling up the grief triggered by the death of his infant daughter by concentrating on on flying to the moon than it is about the development of the NASA Space Program.
We do see outside events going on in the world, we see people who marvel at the idea of Americans going to Space, expecially to beat the Soviets in the Space Race of the 1960s. We see people up in arms at the amount of money this program costs the average tax payer. All of that is just back ground noise though, especially to our protagonist Neil Armstrong, who mentioned up above begins our movie with a family tragedy.
When this happens he decides to enlist in NASA and his wife agrees, calling it a “Fresh Start”. She may actually choke on those words, because, obsession is what takes over him. Once he is picked for the program we meet a cast of historical characters including Buzz Aldrin. Again, everyone but Mr & Mrs Armstrong take a back seat in this story. And while Im no historian, nor have I read the book written by James R Hanesen, but Buzz Aldrin comes off looking like a cocksucker in this. What Im saying is, he can only say the wrong things, at the wrong time.
Back to the Armstrongs.
We see their marriage on a teeter totter the entire movie. Mrs Armstrong wants the man she fell in love with in college, but she also wants to be supportive as that was a major building block to marriage in the 1960s. I suppose it could be worse, I suppose she could have married an abusive drunk, however, obsessing about walking on the moon probably puts strain on any relationship as well. Maybe there can be a thing as wanting to be “too great”?
Entire historical events are overshadowed and just whispered to in this 2 hour 20 min movie directed by the writer/director of Academy Nomintated films: LaLa Land and Whiplash.
Damien Chazelle tries to place this subtle chaos inside a Norman Rockwell painting. And its a beautiful movie.
The best thing about this movie was two things, the final 15 minutes when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin finally walk on the moon, and seeing several audience members on the edge of their seats in the IMAX theater when this scene finally takes place. Its beautifully shot and just the scene when they open the door to walk on the moon, the camera gets caught in the gravity pull of the atmosphere being sucked out of the airlock of the shuttle capsule is simply fantastic.
As usual, we play the “how many minutes shorter could this have been?” and the answer to that is 25mins. I think the only reason to see this movie in the theater is that final 20 mins. I think if youre looking for a good drama about the begining of the NASA Space Program, you should see the other movie Universal Studios distributed, 1995s Apollo 13.
Three out of Six Blueberries.