Director: Damien Chazelle
Writer/s: Josh Singer (screenplay by), James R. Hansen (based on the book by)
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll, Patrick Fugit, and more.
As many of my readers may know, I am a giant Damien Chazelle fan. Chazelle is the director to two of my favorite films, “Whiplash” and “La La Land”. Now, Chazelle steps away from the musical and tackles a biopic drama based on first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong. I must say, it was hard to calm my excitement for this film. I am just about down for every film that tags Chazelle’s name to it so I expected nothing but greatness for this film. However… Maybe I was a bit too blind to Chazelle’s musical wonder of his previous films.
“A look at the life of the astronaut, Neil Armstrong, and the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969.”
There is no other way for me to spin this, I was incredibly disappointed by “First Man”. I feel as if it was a mix of multiple reasons. One; I was far too blind entering this film. I let myself be spoiled by the music centric wonders that are “Whiplash” and “La La Land”. Two incredible and personality filled films. Two; It may lie simply with the style of the film. It is a biopic drama. How gripping can a film like this be? Now I understand some may like biopics more than others… *raises hand*. But for me, these kind of films just are not my style. Three; the dramatic element of this film just does not hit home for me. This, I will expand on shortly but ultimately, an utter disappointment for me.
However, “First Man” does not entirely fail. Actually, it still pulls a positive Oberrating. Most predominantly, this is thanks to the astounding launch and space sequences. Just about every launch and travel sequence was thrilling and had me on the edge of my seat. These moments were such an enjoyment for me that they single-handedly elevated the film to a point that I was actually entertained.
Next to this element of the film, the other aspect that improved “First Man” was Ryan Gosling himself. While I can understand why some people may call him boring or dull. I feel quite the opposite. He may have his performances that do not require such a performance or stage presence but one thing I came to realize within “First Man” was that Gosling performs phenomenally with his eyes. His eyes convey such emotion that I can feel what he is feeling in those moments. May be a strange thing, but it is something I pulled away from here and I must applaud.
Unfortunately, a solid portion of this film is spent on the ground, exploring Armstrong’s background, family, and fellow astronauts. Because, you know, biopic style. And with this, these are the most boring and unexciting times of the film. I do not say this simply because of the pacing. I enjoy slower films when they engage in gripping dialogue. “First Man” does not engage in the least bit. It tries to make you feel for his family troubles and also for the misfortunes of the other failed missions, but for me, it just was not effective enough.
Seeing “First Man” is worth the watch in theaters if you love immersive launch scenes and space shots. They truly were beautiful and breath-taking in their respective moments and even the launch scenes and some space complications were nerve-wracking to watch in a theater. However, once you land back on Earth along with this film, unless you are down for drawn out drama with hardly any truly gripping dramatic scenes, then you may not only lose attention while watching but you may also lose a few dollars on this film. “First Man” is definitely long and I personally felt its duration of two hours and twenty-one minutes. This may be worth a couch watch at home but even then, there is probably a pretty solid TV show or film you have been meaning to knock out before you should choose this.
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