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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

First Man 2018 * * Stars

First ManDirector: Damien Chazelle
Year: 2018
Rated PG-13
Rating: * * Stars
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Kyle Chandler

The true account of asocial astronaut Neil Armstrong and NASA's tireless efforts to make him the first dude to set foot on the moon, is depicted in 2018's straightforward and somber, First Man (my latest review).

Question: What overlong flick would under-utilize known actors like Patrick Fugit, Corey Stoll, Kyle Chandler, Jason Clarke, Lucas Haas, and Ethan Embry? Answer: First Man would and does it in spades.

Image result for first man 2018 movie scenesAnyway, First Man is not the "first" film to tackle the notions of Space Race, lauded craters, and/or extravehicular activity. Apollo 13, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Contact, and The Right Stuff came before it and therein lies the problem. First Man may be educational and helmed by a guy who just won an Oscar (La La Land's Damien Chazelle). However, it feels dated and almost would've been better off as a History Channel documentary or a filmstrip via my napping days in junior high school.

Projecting at 141 aseptic minutes with a bleakness and an audience detachment equivalent to its aloof, leading man (an always droopy-eyed Ryan Gosling), First Man goes through the motions with its bullet point presentation masquerading as simplified narrative. The movie has little sense of awe and because most Americans know what went down on July 20,1969, almost has no sense of elaborated surprise.

Image result for first man movie scenesSans some terrific sound mixing by veteran Mary H. Ellis, the only thing that saves First Man from tumbling into a regional black hole (no pun intended), is the rattled performance of Clair Foy (she plays Armstrong's wife) and Damien Chazelle's solid if not unconventional direction. Chazelle's obsession with close-ups, his aeronautic attention to detail, and his need to put you in the seat of his loud and visceral cockpit, kinda serve him well here. If only the rest of First Man wasn't so filled with underdeveloped side characters, a sophomoric film score, and pretentiousness the size of Jupiter. My rating: An "unmanned" two stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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