I really don’t know why some people are trying to hurt this movie.
‘First Man’ follows the iconic story of Neil Armstrong (played by Ryan Gosling) and the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, but takes a different approach to the story by focusing more on Armstrong’s personal life and the difficult journey leading up to the first man stepping foot on the moon, unlike similar movies of it’s genre that tend to focus more on the famous events. The movie shows the amount of stress that was put not just on Neil, but on his wife, Janet (played by Clair Foy), as well.
Let’s start by addressing the controversy that surrounded this movie leading up to it’s release. A major complaint about this film was that it was trying to convey an “anti-American” message by attempting to shy away from the fact that this was America’s mission to moon. Other people complained about the fact that it never shows the flag on the moon. All these complaints can’t be more far from the truth. This film is extremely patriotic, really trying to convey how important it was for America to beat the Soviet Union to the moon. As for the flag on the moon, there are countless shots of the US flag standing tall and proud by the Apollo 11 spacecraft, and while we don’t actually see Armstrong plant the flag, that moment is substituted for probably the most powerful moment in the film. Although possibly made up since no where can it be proven or denied the existence of this event, it’s still an extremely impactful scene because it’s brings the story of what this movie is full circle.
The movie does a really good job of walking the line on the question “was it worth it?” by showing the amount of lives, resources and taxpayer dollars that were lost in order to make the historic event happen. It shines light on what a lot of Americans were feeling at the time as stories of failed missions and dead astronauts flooded the news.
Gosling does a really great job of showing Armstrong as human, not just the American hero we all know him as. He also perfectly depicts the stoic nature of Armstrong and was probably perfect casting for the role since a lot of Gosling’s characters in other films are of similar nature. In contrast, Foy’s character of Armstrong’s wife shows how stressful the situation really was on the entire family, not knowing if her husband would make it back to her alive.
The space scenes were also really well done. Scenes of inside the rockets and spaceships use shaky cam and loud sounds which work really perfectly for this movie, giving you a sense of anxiety and fear that the whole thing will fall apart, despite already knowing how the story ends. Also, the scene on the moon is beautifully shot and put together, making the whole movie worth seeing.
One thing that the movie does a really poor job at is showing the passage of time. The audience is left confused at some parts seeing entire months pass by without realizing it, instead feeling that it’s only been a couple of days. You see Janet in one scene pregnant, and then a few scenes later, the baby is walking already. It takes you out of the movie for a bit, which seriously is not a good thing
Overall, this is a movie that any American, on either end of the political spectrum, from anywhere in the country, can watch and take pride in.