Film Review – First Man (2018)

Title – First Man (2018)

Director – Damien Chazelle (La La Land)

Cast – Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Pablo Schreiber, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Christopher Abbott, Corey Stoll

Plot – The true story of Neil Armstrong (Gosling) and the journey that lead him to be the first man to ever set foot on the Moon.

“We need to fail down here so we don’t fail up there”

Review by Eddie on 15/10/2018

Disclaimer – This review is based on the IMAX version of First Man

His only 33 years of age but there’s now further proof that Oscar winning director Damien Chazelle is one of the most competent, original and talented filmmaker’s working today.

Chazelle’s third feature film First Man is a visually stunning, emotionally powerful and genuinely unique biopic, that coming hot off the heels of box office sensation La La Land and critical darling Whiplash, proves the director’s skill as a visionary, a game breaker and a wonderful storyteller.

Using the true life tale of renowned astronaut Neil Armstrong and America’s quest to be the first nation to successfully explore the moon, Chazelle does what many would never have expected from a bio about such a pivotal moment and makes a film that’s both humanly intimate and emotionally grand, as he turns his attention to the little things as well as the big, that in turn make First Man a more enthralling and white knuckle experience because of it.

Not to be found here is any American grandstanding, no Oscar baiting speeches and no bio by the numbers plotlines as Chazelle instead brings us into the cockpit, the visor and home life of Armstrong that strips back the grand tale to something just as powerful as we become a fly on the wall of Armstrong’s life and death defying missions.

It’s not to say there’s not cinematic flourishes here as First Man features some of the year’s most exciting and breathtaking feats of cinema delivered through a heart racing opening, a hold your breath docking test in the heart of space and of course the intense and captivating Apollo mission, all of which showcase Chazelle’s abundant ability that works wonders alongside Linus Sandgren’s virtuoso yet often gritty cinematography and regular Chazelle collaborator and composer Justin Hurwitz, who crafts a haunting and awards worthy score to compliment what’s occurring on screen.

Seeing these scenes on a large scale format such as IMAX or a sound-rich environment is a pure cinematic treat and by the time Chazelle arrives at the moon and the audience sits in silence, immersed and captivated by the gravitas and artistic brilliance on display, you understand that what you’re apart of as an audience member is one of those rare movie going experiences that becomes something more than just entertainment, this is something truly special and an experience you won’t soon forget.

With no much craft and technical mastery it could be argued that many of the performances in the film feel like more nice additions than anything truly of note but the stoic presence of Gosling as Armstrong and the fine support of Claire Foy as Armstrong’s faithful wife Janet are exactly what the film needed, with both performers operating at the top of their game, complimenting everything else perfectly to ensure First Man’s overall accomplishments are all-round.

Final Say –

Some may be disappointed to find out that a film about Armstrong and the moon landing is a more intimate affair but seeing First Man on the biggest screen available is a transformative cinematic experience, as Chazelle’s stunning cinematic spectacle is a grand and unforgettable example of movie magic.

5 bracelets out of 5

35 responses to “Film Review – First Man (2018)

    • Honestly Livid I don’t think that takes away anything from what the film is trying to deliver, it’s a great cinematic work regardless of this issue.

      • If I could add to this point, this issue concerned me briefly as well prior to seeing the movie. However, it completely ends up being a non-issue. While the act of planting the flag is not shown, the planted flag is seen in several shots. The movie also goes out of its way to show this as an American exploit and is plenty patriotic. I would urge you to reconsider your interest, as it is one of the best films of the year.

      • Agreed 100% Jordan, I’d hate to think people miss out purely because of this fact, it does indeed end up not even feeling like an issue when everything else is said and done.

    • I don’t think you’d be the only one to feel this way Mr. Movie, I understand its not one of those films that would be for everyone, I personally loved it though.

    • Oh mate was just brilliant, I was a little worried as I heard so much about the shaky cam etc but found it all worked so well on the giant IMAX screen!

  1. ya, i’m glad i wasn’t alone to notice how tight the focus of the movie was. Definitely a different (yet welcome) difference to Apollo 13 (which is probably this movies most similar comparison).

    • I loved how it focussed in and never let go, some of the scenes in this movie are the most thrilling and edge of your seat inducing that I’ve seen in years!

  2. Glad to see Chazelle has cranked out yet another critical darling. Whiplash is my all time favorite film, so I expect a lot of great things from this.

    • Be very keen to hear what you think of this one then mate. For me La La Land is one of my all time fav’s.
      I tell you what, after 3 films on the trot, Chazelle may just be the best director of finales going around ha, this is another cracking film for final 15 – 20 minutes.

  3. It was all things that made me fall in love with film. There was a Soderbergh feeling in the beginning, Cuaron in the middle, finishing with Kubrick at the end, but Chazelle somehow made it all his own. I was mesmerized.

    • Such a good way of putting it! Memorized is such an apt work also, that’s how I felt sitting back watching this on IMAX, so many people calling the film boring, but time flew by for me!

    • it also reminded me of Interstellar. it has the same opening, with the pilot on earth, and some of the same shots of the spacecrafts.

  4. damn, Americans sure as hell are salty about the omission of a scene that would have taken what, 2-3 seconds to show on screen? I think more and more Americans are finding their identity in their political affiliation, which is really messing the entire country up.
    that being said, i was floored by this. i loved this film more than i ever thought possible. it is my favorite damien chazelle film, and i think his most accomplished by far. whiplash was great in a technical aspect, la la land was very good in its choreography and emotion, but first man has it all. he finally managed a perfect balance, and the result is a damn classic.
    the scenes on the moon were profoundly haunting.

    • Agreed on all mate, also interesting you noted the Interstellar similarities, seeing this on IMAX bought me back to that magical time when I watched Nolan’s masterpiece on the big screen format. Utterly brilliant!

  5. Definitely loved this movie. The acting was great, the story was engaging, and the whole direction of Chazelle was fantastic. Loved the whole Apollo 11 mission sequence…it was epic!!!

  6. I was disappointed in the film. I appreciated the way in which his professional exploits were recreated (the moon landing was breathtaking). Overall Chazelle could have lopped off at least 20-25 minutes and gotten the same result. I may be biased though because Apollo 13 is one of my top five favorite movies and is a tough act to follow.

    • Your not the only one that felt that way I don’t think mate. I was totally entranced by it all and found it a magical and thrilling ride but its not for everyone!

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