Director: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke
Release Date: January 22, 2019
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 9/10
Disc Rating: 8/10
Oscar®-winning director Damien Chazelle and star Ryan Gosling reteam for the riveting story behind the first manned mission to the moon, focusing on Neil Armstrong and the decade leading to the historic Apollo 11 flight. A visceral and intimate account told from Armstrong’s perspective, based on the book by James R. Hansen, the film explores the triumphs and the cost—on Armstrong, his family, his colleagues and the nation itself—of one of the most dangerous missions in history.
Oscar winning director Damien Chazelle and star Ryan Gosling once again reteam for ‘First Man’, the powerful story of famous astronaut Neil Armstrong and the key events of the decade leading up to the historic journey of Apollo 11. Exploring the family relationships, dangerous tasks and so many uncertain moments throughout the course of those ten years, along with the friends he made and even sometimes lost along the way; all building to that unforgettable mission where anything and everything could have gone terribly wrong, but success meant an accomplishment unlike any other the world had witnessed.
Directed by the talented and Academy Award winning Damien Chazelle ( La La Land, Whiplash) from a screenplay by Josh Singer (Spotlight, The Post) which was based upon the book by James R. Hansen respectively, Chazelle does a magnificent job at the helm of ‘First Man’ carefully and beautifully guiding along the mostly true tale with style. The film also owes a tremendous amount of credit to the impressive cast which features no shortage of talented individuals and includes Ryan Gosling (La La Land), Claire Foy (TV’s The Crown), Jason Clarke (Everest), Kyle Chandler (Super 8), Corey Stoll (Ant-Man), Christopher Abbott (TV’s The Sinner), Ciarán Hinds (Red Sparrow), Patrick Fugit (TV’s Outcast) and Shea Whigham (TV’s Homecoming) along with many more, and nearly all providing highly capable performances in each of their respective roles.
‘First Man’ is a spectacular film, filled with heart, pain and wonder, along with some true beauty throughout. Concentrating far more on the man Neil Armstrong than the specific Apollo 11 mission, the film explores a span of ten years in Armstrong’s life filled with ups and downs, and all naturally leading up to that historic event with which his reputation and name will forever be irrevocably linked. It’s a passionately crafted film that wisely opts for concentrating on the heartfelt, emotional moments and various struggles as opposed to merely the spectacle of the mission (although that’s not to say there isn’t plenty of breathtaking focus on that as well) and as a result ‘First Man’ comes together into a beautiful and very human tale of one man’s incredible accomplishments and everything he and his family endured in order to reach that point. It’s carefully guided along its powerful course by director Damien Chazelle and his talented guidance is tremendously complimented by a powerhouse cast that includes Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy and many more. I would strongly encourage anyone at all intrigued by the film, the story or even the reteaming of Chazelle and Gosling to try and find the time to give this one a watch. It’s a marvelous piece of filmmaking that’s as gorgeous and visually stunning as it is emotionally effective and not to be missed.
Overall, ‘First Man’ is a marvelous piece of filmmaking and another impressive entry in the continually noteworthy career of director Damien Chazelle who only continues to amaze. It’s a visually breathtaking and emotionally riveting exploration of the life of astronaut Neil Armstrong (passionately portrayed by Ryan Gosling) and the ten crucial years leading up to the historic Apollo 11 mission. ‘First Man’ is definitely highly recommended. It’s a moving and visually stunning journey that is well worth taking. For anyone already even mildly interested in this one to begin with it should have no trouble whatsoever proving well worth the cost of a rental and a few hours of your time one evening at the absolute least, and there’s an excellent chance that you’ll be utterly thrilled that you decided to check it out.
The Blu-ray release of ‘First Man’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation that utilizes the film’s original 2.39:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio for the majority of the feature, while opening to a 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio for the film’s Lunar Climax in order to better represent the IMAX presentation of that key scene which was filmed with IMAX cameras. The video presentation looks outstanding as a whole and delivers a sharp, clean and richly detailed presentation from start to finish with no noticeable faults to be uncovered throughout. It holds up remarkably well even during the darkly lit, heavily populated and at times overly shaky moments, never causing anything occurring on screen to ever become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a fantastic high definition video presentation that should easily thrill both fans of the film and first time viewers.
The Blu-ray release features a Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel compatible) soundtrack. Please note that this review pertains solely to the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio presentation. This multichannel soundtrack makes a perfect complement to the film and provides a truly hard hitting, yet equally clean and sharp audio presentation throughout. It frequently takes full advantage of all seven available channels, particularly during the space events in order to send violent shaking, booming and plenty more overtaking the various speakers, and often with some insanely aggressive bass that shakes the entire room along with it, yet never conflicting with or detracting from any dialogue or other audio elements that might be occurring simultaneously. Overall, this is a magnificent Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible) soundtrack that is nothing short of amazing and should thoroughly satisfy even the pickiest of audiophiles.
The Blu-ray release of ‘First Man’ includes some enjoyable and informative extras. Included on the release is an ‘Audio Commentary with Director Damien Chazelle, Screenwriter Josh Singer and Editor Tom Cross’, in addition to a couple ‘Deleted Scenes’ from the movie (running approximately 4 minutes in length combined) and a collection of Behind the Scenes Featurettes that explore different aspects of the true story and bringing the film life and featuring interviews/comments with members of the cast and crew, plus behind the scenes footage and more. The included Featurettes are: ‘Shooting for the Moon’ (running approximately 4 minutes), ‘Preparing to Launch’ (approximately 4 minutes), ‘Giant Leap in One Small Step’ (4 minutes), ‘Mission Gone Wrong’ (3 minutes), ‘Putting You in the Seat’ (7 minutes), ‘Recreating the Moon Landing’ (6 minutes), ‘Shooting at NASA’ (3 minutes) and ‘Astronaut Training’ (4 minutes).