“One small step for ‘a’ man, one giant leap for mankind.”, a quote that everyone knows what it is referencing to, if you don’t know, you must’ve been living under a rock. ‘First man’ is the story of the astronaut behind the famous quote, the lead up to the mission and ultimately one of the biggest accomplishments in human history.
The outcome to this story is known by everyone, therefore there is no need to focus on this too much, yes it is an obvious must for this movie, but it does not make this the main focus of the movie. Instead Damien Chazelle puts all the focus on Armstrong himself, this is more of a depiction of his life leading up to the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, rather than being about the moon landing itself. We also see in plain sight the sacrifices the people surrounding this project made to make it happen, and this film wonderfully pays respect to these men and women that went through so much in a time of the unknown.
Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling), was known to have a stoic personality, Gosling depicts this perfectly, you can see that he is enduring pain and hardships but he doesn’t make it obvious to others that this is how he feels and just gets on with his work and life. Claire Foy plays Niels wife, Janet Armstrong, this was also well portrayed, showing us the hardships and trouble of the situation she has been put in. The other cast members are all good in their limited screen time they get throughout
this movie and add that extra depth to the film. For a cast to perform so well with a script that was sub-par, speaks volumes for the talent that is involved in this film. After enjoying Josh Singers writing in ‘Spotlight’, this was a massive disappointment, it lacked depth and was quite simply un-interesting, the cast really had to express themselves in other ways to get this to work.
Some of the shots we get in this film are mind-blowingly beautiful, especially when we land on the moon. The camera pans through the door of the lander and you see a world unlike any other come to life, what made this even better is when the score at this moment just goes silent, the eerily first steps on an unknown land really get emphasised. There are some interesting cinematography techniques used during this film, especially in the launching sequences. Where it did make you really feel like you were in the rocket, you could feel the thrusters, you felt claustrophobic and could hear every creak,
but this was over powered by the constant shakiness of the camera, overused throughout and felt very overwhelming at times. What the film did succeed in was to create tension in a scene in which we already know the outcome, which is not an easy task to pull off.
A depiction of Neil Armstrong’s life, rather than focussing on the Apollo 11 mission itself, and handles events leading up to this mission in a good manner. A cast all round which performed well, with a mediocre script, an accomplishment in itself. Parts of this felt overwhelming, with the shaky camera techniques, and just became too much to handle, but some of the shots in this movie were ‘out of this world’, and clear to see why this got an Oscar nomination for Visual Effects.