By James Davidson
Neil Armstrong first landed on the moon almost fifty years ago and the new movie “First Man” follows Armstrong and his family in their struggles leading up to that iconic moment in American history. Ryan Gosling plays Neil and Claire Foy portrays his wife, Janet. The movie follows the couple as they deal with the loss of their daughter which causes Neil to become distant and detached from his family. Janet must figure out how to raise their two sons while Neil dedicates himself to his work. She also has to deal with the deaths of other astronauts in the space program and worrying Neil may not come home.
Foy did an amazing job portraying what Janet Armstrong must have gone through while her husband was away training and in space. I thought her acting was spot on and she really was one of the better parts of the movie. She really made that role believable to me and I really enjoyed watching her.
Ryan Gosling’s acting, on the other hand, seemed very monotone through most of the film. I think he was trying to show that Armstrong may have never gotten over the death of his daughter and how much it changed him. He never smiles or shows any emotion in his face or voice. I found that he came off very morose and broody. Whether that was purposefully done or not, I didn’t feel it worked well and made parts of the movie difficult and dull to watch.
The movie is almost two and a half hours long and, while interesting, it did tend to drag on in parts. I thought the pacing was very slow, which would’ve been fine if the movie was about twenty minutes shorter. I found that it was hard to pay attention in parts and I think if the movie was shorter and moved a little quicker it would have held my attention better. However, the parts that weren’t slow were very intense and had me on the edge of my seat. I just think the scenes in between the exciting scenes dragged out the movie longer than it had to be.
While my mind wandered in a few parts, overall I really enjoyed the movie and I thought it was a fascinating portrayal of a well-known story in American history. It reminded me a lot of “Apollo 13” as both movies showed what the astronauts and their families went through during tough times. I’m not sure how accurate this movie is, but I thought it was very interesting and portrayed the moon landing in a whole new light.
The movie was rated PG-13 for some content involving peril and brief strong language, but for the most part I think this would be a great family movie for families with older children or teenagers. The movie is definitely worth seeing once, I’m not sure if it’s a movie I can watch multiple times just because it was so long and there was so much to process. I will probably rent it to watch at least one more time though, I’ll just have to plan to make an entire afternoon of it.
I thought that “First Man” was an intriguing look into the life of one of America’s most iconic heroes and one of the most important moments in American history. The movie definitely has ups and downs, with both terrific and mediocre acting. There were a few intense moments, but the film lasted a little longer than necessary in my opinion. However, the ups outweigh the downs for me and I believe it is worth it to see this movie at least once. This movie earns 3 out of 5 stars.