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Friday, Jan 28, 2022

Movie Review: “First Man” is a powerful look into the life of Neil Armstrong and the first steps on the moon

Graphic designed by Madison Allen.
Graphic designed by Madison Allen.

There is just something about the mystery of space that always makes for such great movies, and “First Man” is no exception. In this film, viewers are treated with an exploration of the life of the late, great Neil Armstrong, who was the first person to ever walk on the surface of the moon. This movie takes viewers on a trip through time, culminating in one of the most breathtaking scenes that has ever graced the big screen.

“First Man” is based on the official biography of Neil Armstrong, titled “First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong”. The movie is best described as a biopic on Armstrong at certain points of his life during the 1950s and 1960s, but it is very nearly a documentary of sorts as well. While it was acted and directed beautifully, there is only so much action and drama that can be put on screen when the focus of the film is set on one person.

Directed by “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle, the movie throws audiences right into the thick of it as soon as the movie starts. Right away, viewers will feel very tight and claustrophobic. This is due to the fact that Chazelle shoots many scenes as extreme close-ups, trying to help the audiences feel like the actual crew members did, being in such small and confined spaces. While it can be unnerving at times, it is a very unique experience that I feel is done successfully.

Ryan Gosling plays the leading role of Armstrong himself, and it is a bit of a conundrum. While Gosling is a wonderful actor in his own right, he felt quite one-dimensional throughout most of the film. However, I do not think this is any fault of Gosling’s, or even Chazelle’s, but more so that Neil Armstrong was a very simple person who lived a simple life. The Armstrong family, as viewers will see, were not into flashy things, fame or anything of that nature. Neil Armstrong was a family man, but also a man of few words. But don’t get me wrong, Gosling does well in his role anyway, as do his co-stars Claire Foy, Jason Clarke and Kyle Chandler.

While the movie is by no means a bad movie, it does have its faults. However, the last 20 minutes of the movie make up for every previous mistake. The fateful first steps on the moon are truly a sight to behold, and Chazelle made sure it was one of the finest scenes in cinema history.

One of the hardest things to do in film is to make an audience feel like they are truly there with the characters. Throughout the whole film, Chazelle used strategic camera shots and sequences to get us to the moon, and it all came together on the surface. The masterful music cuts out, the camera pans through the ship’s hatch, and audiences see the never-ending blackness ahead of them. In theaters, not a sound was made, and you could hear a pin drop. For the next few minutes as the characters explore the surface of the moon, viewers, for the first time ever, just might feel like they traveled to the moon.

“First Man” is a better-than-average biopic about Neil Armstrong, his family and all the trials and tribulations he faced on his way to the moon. While it may seem slow to some, and even boring to others, I feel that the majority of movie-goers will be fascinated by all that went on behind-the-scenes during the space race. And if anything, the entire movie is worth it just to see the magnificent first steps on the surface of the moon; nothing in all of cinema can compare, and it will be very hard to beat for some time to come.


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