First Man

October 19, 2018

Just a quick review. Once again, I’m covering this one in Lightspeed and will have a deeper analysis of the movie and its place in the genre of “Historical Dramas about NASA.”  But I know a bunch of you probably interested in it so I wanted to say something.

I liked it, I’m glad I saw it, but I felt it lost focus. On the one hand it’s this intensely personal portrait of Neil Armstrong through the 1960’s, his run-up to the Apollo 11 mission, and his place in history as the first person to set foot on ground that isn’t Earth. When the movie really got into his point of view, right there in the Gemini 8 capsule and the X-15 cockpit, it was great, and some of these set pieces are spectacular. It showed me things I hadn’t seen before. The lunar landing is presented as a work of art, and it’s gorgeous, and I really loved the idea of showing us this one man coming to grips with the enormity of it all beyond the historical context.

On the other hand, when the movie was trying to do the big epic sweep, I thought it got derivative, showing us what every other movie and documentary of the type has always shown. The Right Stuff lite, if you will. It also made the movie feel long.

I think I might have liked it a little better if it wasn’t trying to have it both ways.  Still, if you’re a super space nerd, you gotta see if for those mission sequences.



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