‘First Man’ aims for the Moon


Maya Dennis, A&E critic

We’re all taught about Neil Armstrong in school. We’re told that he was a great American hero who helped the U.S. win the Space Race. He said that oh-so-famous quote — “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” — people still talk about today. And yet most don’t know as much as they thought they did.

That’s why this film is so important. It focuses on Neil’s home life, family, and journey up to the moon landing. We, as audience members, get an idea of what Neil was like at home and how he felt about space travel.

While the film isn’t performing as well at the box office as some had thought, critics are still raving about the film and its accomplishments. Don’t worry though, the film is in no way bombing — it currently holds fifth place at the box office.

The film starts in 1961 and follows Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling), his wife, Janet (Claire Foy), and their kids, as they spend the next eight years dealing with a mission far more dangerous than originally thought to be. Throughout the film, we’re able to see Neil make friends with astronauts that eventually become famous.

There’s something about this film that makes it different from others like it. The film doesn’t spend time dwelling on the things that have happened. Those of us that were alive then saw the headlines. They know the details. For those of us that weren’t around then, the film is able to convey those feelings to us. It introduces characters quickly, and it’ll jump several months into the future and there’ll be an accident or unfortunate death.

The things that the film does focus on, though, are the ones that revolve around Neil’s emotions. While most put Armstrong on a pedestal, this films has that tone while still focusing on Neil’s human-ness. The film focuses on the build-up to the moon landing and what Neil lost in the process. We don’t even see him planting the flag — a small controversy for a hot minute — because it doesn’t pertain to his direct emotions.

Directed by Damien Chazelle (“La La Land”), the film is hopeful for some Oscar nominations. And considering Chazelle’s last two films were both nominated for Best Picture, there’s a good chance “First Man” will keep the nomination streak going.