The movie event of the year. First Man is an exhilarating experience, full of wonder as we watch the personal struggle it took on Neil Armstrong to become the first man on the Moon. This film receives a five-star review from me.
Director Damien Chazelle's (La La Land and Whiplash) dizzying spectacle will leave you in awe. Ryan Gosling also helms a quiet, yet raw performance as Neil Armstrong. While Claire Foy is a complete knockout. This is a film you don't want to miss, it was unforgettable. Now, let's first address the so-called American flag controversy. In short, there is none. While we never see Armstrong actually plant the flag, that's because we (as an audience) have seen that image and video a thousand times. The controversy arose on social media and caught on like wildfire from there. Florida Senator Marco Rubio described the omission as "total lunacy," before he had seen the film. Maybe, stop tweeting silly statements Senator Rubio and start doing your job for the sake of the American people?
Chazelle responded to the controversy with a statement, saying: "I show the American flag standing on the lunar surface, but the flag being physically planted into the surface is one of several moments [...] that I chose not to focus upon. To address the question of whether this was a political statement, the answer is no. My goal with this movie was to share with audiences the unseen, unknown aspects of America's mission to the Moon." Plus, Chazelle scatters images and shots of American flags all throughout the film, end of story. Now, back to this incredible movie. Chazelle switches gears from his music-based films and zeroes in on a biographical drama that helped shape the way we look at space. If you believe the 1969 Apollo 11 Moon landing was all a conspiracy, then I cannot help you here. Kudos to Stanley Kubrick.
Our story follows Astronaut Neil Armstrong (an emotionally strong Gosling) and his years with NASA (The National Aeronautics and Space Administration) from 1961 to 1969. It's a riveting story as we witness NASA's bloodthirsty attempt to land the first person ever on the Moon. We see at first-hand the sacrifice Armstrong had to make in order to take on one of our nation's most dangerous missions. Chazelle doesn't hold back with the technicality and filmmaking pizzazz, he straps you right into center view. The camera moving and guiding all over the place, at times, like a roller coaster. This gives the audience a feel for what these astronauts go through. With Chazelle's near-perfect execution and razor-sharp acting from both Gosling and Foy, First Man is an Oscar-worthy contender.
Foy is a powerhouse, as she taps into Janet Armstrong's mind and what Mrs. Armstrong might have been thinking during her husband's life or death space mission. Actors Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, and Corey Stoll also help fill in the cracks with strong supporting roles. First Man is based on the book First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen and had its world premiere at the 75th Venice Film Festival. Chazelle also focuses the story on Armstrong's personal struggle with losing his daughter to cancer at a young age. We see this trauma hit Armstrong head-on, while Gosling makes it poignant on screen. You'll be in awe with this movie. First Man shows us the sheer fear and wonder of space. I project this film to receive some Oscars for its memorizing special effects and it even has a shot at grabbing a Best Picture nomination. The first Moon landing was a pivotal moment in human history. In doing so, First Man guides its audience through a monumental journey. That's what made this movie so memorable.
First Man is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For some thematic content involving peril, and brief strong language.