First Man – What a Slog

Rating (2 out of 5)

A movie that had the opportunity to tell a great story but director spends more time with  close-ups and thoughtful looks that the story is lost, and you just hope you can make it to the end.

Plot:  The story is about Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gossling) as he progresses from test pilot and to the first man on the moon.


What I Liked:  The opening scene was really good as Neil is testing out the X-15.   They were pioneers of space and air travel and pushing the envelope every time they were in the air.  Wish the rest of the film was like this.

They move had some really good moments when they focused on Neil what it took to be an astronaut, and later what it took to make the space flights.  During these times the movie really flowed and you were sucked into the movie.

What I Didn’t Like:  Basically every other moment than the ones above weren’t good.  We spent way too much time doing close-ups.  Seriously, the movie must be 50% of close-ups like the ones below.  You would get 3/4 of a head, and then all of a sudden back out into a wide shot.   Most of Ryan Gosling’s close-ups were of him making goofy expressions like the one that I think were supposed to be serious.  I feel like he has been coached by Joey from Friends, what is 9,932 divided by 13?

When Neil takes his first flight into outer space, he gets into the capsule and then the rocket launches.  The rocket launch is a close-ups of the bolts on the wall.  Then we have the camera vibrate so much that you can’t see the  control board.  I was waiting for my seat to start shaking, and when the whole sequence is over, for the Disney employee to tell me the ride was over.  It was the worst shot I have ever scene of a rocket launch.

The movie lacked a focus.  Was this a story of Neil and his relationship with his wife and family.  Was this a story of Neil and being the first man on the moon.  I felt confused at times at what story we were telling.

While I understand Neil was engineer and probably a very serious man, this movie sucks all the life out of the man.  The movie makes him out to be the most boring man in the world.   I had to look up the Apollo 11 pre-flight interview to compare against the movie, and he was much more charismatic in the real interview than on the big screen.


Conclusion:  I know I will be in the minority again, but this is the slowest over-stylized movie about the space race I have ever scene.  I have never watched a biopic that makes me want to not know more about the person or the program, but First Man has accomplished the impossible.