‘First Man’ is Stunning, Powerful, and Sometimes Frustrating

VANAPHASE™ the Vanadium powerhouse!

With his first two features having earned Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and Best Director, young director Damien Chazelle has become cinema’s wunderkind. Now the Oscar-winner for La La Land returns to the screen with his most ambitious project yet, the story of Neil Armstrong’s journey to becoming the first man to walk on the moon with the aptly titled First Man. Chazelle’s biopic drama is equally thrilling and frustrating as First Man is always teetering on the brink of being a full blown masterpiece but some questionable stylistic choices by its talented director hinder its effectiveness at times. Even as some of Chazelle’s choices get in the way of the visual storytelling, it’s hard to deny his immense talents as a filmmaker and it’s evident in the most stunning sequences in the film.

Chazelle starts the film off with an intense sequence of Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) flying an experimental jet towards the stratosphere. Technical errors make the flight rather fraught but Armstrong keeps his cool and is able to safely land the plane. This is just the beginning of Armstrong’s journey towards the lunar surface. At home, things aren’t so great as Neil and his wife Janet (Claire Foy) must deal with the illness of their young daughter Karen. The young girl passes away and it sets the tone for the film that will deal with the grim specter of death looming over Armstrong’s historic journey. Neil applies to join the astronaut program and is one of the civilians brought into the program, uprooting his family to move to Houston, Texas.

In Houston, the Armstrong family quickly befriends the other families that have moved to be a part of the space program. Neil forms strong bonds with fellow astronauts Elliott See (Patrick Fugit) and Edward Higgins White (Jason Clarke). Once again, Armstrong must contend with the pain of death as Elliott See is killed in a plane crash and Edward Higgins White was a part of the doomed Apollo 1 mission. The tragedies and sacrifice of his colleagues push Armstrong to the forefront of NASA’s elite astronauts and Deke Slayton (Kyle Chandler) assigns him as head of the Apollo 11 mission, serving alongside Buzz Aldrin (Corey Stoll) and Mike Collins (Lukas Haas). Amidst the media hoopla and uncertainty about his safety, Neil Armstrong is about to embark on a mission that will rewrite the course of history.

Gosling plays Armstrong as a man of few words whose emotions are internalized. It’s a powerful performance but one that’s not showy in the sense that will garner awards consideration. Claire Foy does her best with the material presented her but she’s saddled with the role of the concerned wife, meaning that she has to put on a strong face while trying to conceal her emotions as well as having those stern moments where she must force her husband to break his stony façade. Everyone in the robust cast of First Man delivers strong work even if most of the characters aren’t given much beyond the surface aside from Gosling’s stoic Neil Armstrong.

There’s one glaring aspect of First Man that is just so frustrating and that’s the choice of director Damien Chazelle and cinematographer Linus Sandgren to shoot the film with handheld cameras. The shot composition itself is practically perfect and the film is masterfully edited, but the shaking of the camera in every scene becomes a bit frustrating to watch. From my viewpoint, the shaky cam of First Man is what holds it back from being a full blown masterpiece.

But once First Man finds Neil Armstrong on the moon, it becomes some of the most stunning filmmaking of the year. If you can, see First Man in full IMAX just for the moon landing sequence alone. All of that quiet, internalized pain that Gosling brings to Armstrong culminates in a jaw-dropping sequence that also provides an emotional catharsis as the journey finds its ultimate destination. All of the aspects of First Man that frustrated me floated away on the surface of the moon and its low gravity, muttering to myself “Wow” at the astonishing filmmaking on display.

First Man was deemed controversial after its premiere at the Venice Film Festival when a comment by Ryan Gosling was taken out of context and spread like wildfire among conservative media by people who hadn’t seen the movie claiming it failed to show the American flag on the moon. That’s absolute insanity. The film doesn’t feature a scene where the flag is planted but it’s very visible on the surface of the moon. More importantly, this is a film that isn’t rah-rah jingoism but a quieter, more contemplative work about the sacrifice of the first astronauts to brings America to the moon. It’s a solemn ode to the patriots who risked it all for the advancement of humanity and doing so wearing the colors of the American flag on their arms. Anyone with half a brain can see that First Man was dragged into the ongoing culture wars by crass political opportunists who purposefully misrepresented a movie they hadn’t seen.

We may never see an event that unified the nation and the world like the moon landing. First Man brings this incredible journey to the screen in a personal story of sacrifice and pain that laid the path to history. It’s a movie that can be frustrating because it’s so close to being a masterpiece, but it’s still a powerful, engaging film that focuses on the determination that finds humanity at its best. When we’re in times with so much despair, it’s a necessary story of collaboration and determination to rewrite the concept of what’s possible.

First Man
  • Overall Score

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
The Night Comes For Us
‘The Night Comes for Us’ is the Year’s Wildest Action Flick

Gareth Evans’ action flick The Raid was a game changer. It...

‘Titans’ Episode 2: Birds of a Feather

Last week’s Titans set up everything we want from the DCEU’s...

The Curse of La Llorona Trailer
Say Your Prayers Before Watching the ‘The Curse of La Llorona’ Trailer

Something terrible is coming. Details are scarce as to what we...

Event News Event Reviews
Alt 98.7 Presents Big Adventure: Music, Comedy & Comic Con Festival, Nov 3-4 in Orange County

In less than a month, Alt 98.7 Presents Big Adventure makes its debut,...

The 9th Annual Brew HA HA Craft Beer Photo Gallery

Photos by FanboyNation Craft Beer Expert, Dave Warner. Related

Long Beach Comic Con Photo Gallery


Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Taco Bell Xbox
The Newest Taco Bell Box is an Xbox – Your Chance to Win a Taco Bell Xbox

Taco Bell and Xbox are partnering up to give fans a chance...

Exclusive Track Premiere from Madden NFL 19!

(July 26, 2018 – Los Angeles, CA) – Lakeshore Records today...

Star Ocean Anamnesis
The Most Intuitively Fun Gameplay of Any Mobile RPG – Star Ocean Anamnesis Review

Star Ocean Anamnesis is hands down the most fun and intuitive gameplay...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Five Questions for Gary Morgenstein About ‘A Mound Over Hell’

Gary Morgenstein is a journalist, public relations expert and author with...

Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic Novel
Dark Horse Disney Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic Novel Revealed

Dark Horse reveals new original Disney Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic...

black torch
Black Torch – New Supernatural, Action Manga from Viz Media

VIZ Media releases a new, supernatural story with the release of...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Eagle Eyes
Protect Your Eyes with Eagle Eyes Glasses – Eagle Eyes TV Kit Review

Eagle Eyes TV Kit review – Feel the difference and get...

Nooligan Talks About His New DC Collectibles Batman Family Line

Visual Artist Nooligan uses the influences of his First Nation ancestry along...

DC Collectibles Brings Batman Dark Nights: Metal to Life

Straight from the pages of the bestselling DARK NIGHTS: METAL comics series comes...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
PFL 9 Lightweight and Light Heavyweight Semi-Final Results From Long Beach

Saturday, October 13, 2018 – Professional Fighters League (PFL) 9 took...

NJPW Fighting Spirit Unleased Results

New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) continues its West Coast domination with...

Combate Americas: Camino a Copa Combate Results from Long Beach

Tonight Combate Americas, the premiere Hispanic Mixed Martial Arts organization featured...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Fantoy Comics presents: Harry Potter and the Cat Conjuring part ??? more of BEHOLD TACOCAT!

The next epic installment in the epic epicness Behold Tacocat! A...

Fantoy Comics presents: Harry Potter & the Cat Conjuring pt7 subsection1: Behold: Tacocat!

Tacocat comes to Hogwarts but is he friend or FOE?

Cultural Junkdrawer – Why is it so familiar? 2018 Summer movie recap.

In case you haven’t noticed: summer is over. Most of you...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Coastal Commoners Ep 5 Kavanaugh, Dr. Ford and The Fourth Estate

This week on Coastal Commoners, R.C. and Gary speak with Riverdale...

Coastal Commoners Ep 4 Talking Baseball with Ernie Paicopolos of FenwayNation

This week, Gary and R.C. speak with Ernie Paicopolos, the Editor-in-Chief...

Coastal Commoners Ep 3 The Dirty World of Politics

Editor’s Note: The views reflected in Coastal Commoners are those of...

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Deadpool 2 Vinyl Giveaway!

We are giving away a copy of Deadpool 2 Score Soundtrack on...

Crisis on Earth-X Soundtrack
Blake Neely Behind-the-Scenes Recording of Crisis on Earth-X Soundtrack

Check out this exclusive Behind-The-Scenes video with Blake Neely as he...

Rising Country Music Artist Kaylin Roberson Talks About her work with St. Jude

Kaylin Roberson is a singer, songwriter and pianist from Raleigh, North...

%d bloggers like this: