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First Man Takes Off into Theatres

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First Man Takes Off into Theatres

Photo courtesy of flickr.com

Photo courtesy of flickr.com

Photo courtesy of flickr.com

Connor Rose, Inside A&E Editor

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Damien Chazelle’s “First Man” soars above and beyond expectations and is simply a masterpiece. The film follows astronaut Neil Armstrong and his courageous journey with the Apollo 11 crew to become the first man to set feet on the moon. Chazelle captures a story about the human spirit, love, fear, and determination in what honestly has become one of my favorite films. Bolstered by incredible acting and an impeccable soundtrack, “First Man”  is one of the most unique, brilliant experiences in film and deserves tremendous praise.

Going into the movie, I expected “First Man” to follow similar patterns or styles of Chazelle’s prior movies, but I was pleasantly surprised. If I didn’t know who the director was before watching the film, I wouldn’t have known by watching it: Chazelle’s direction with the movie is unparalleled in intensity and tension building, especially in first-person moments revolving around Neil Armstrong. The first five minutes alone hooked me into the movie and brought a refreshing sense of realism.

One thing I noticed was how Chazelle uses over-the-shoulder shots to really drive home that personal connection; although we are given insight into the lives of these characters, that kind of shot lets the audience feel as if the conversations are private and intimate, adding additional weight to each dialogue. I personally love this kind of shot and I felt as if each scene was absolutely necessary and pivotal.

The acting in “First Man” was top-notch with Ryan Gosling coming full force. In my opinion, Ryan Gosling is the best natural performance actors today. From blockbusters like “Blade Runner: 2049” to indie films like “A Place Beyond the Pines” (both films are two of my favorite films and I highly recommend watching them), Gosling can make some of the most grounded characters, even in the most outrageous worlds. His performance as Neil Armstrong was so realistic I felt like I was watching footage from the real Apollo 11 events.

Gosling’s groundedness gives the audience a personal and emotional connection unparalleled in current cinema.  I think a film about Neil Armstrong, a normal, everyday man pushing himself to human limits and sacrificing to achieve greatness really excels by using such a grounded actor who can immerse himself and the audience.

Claire Foy does a stellar job and captures Janet Armstrong, a loving mother who stands by her husband’s tireless journey to the moon. I really enjoyed her chemistry and conversations with Gosling; they came across comfortably and brought the audience into the world of the Armstrongs. I think that Foy successfully moves both the audience and the plot with dynamic storytelling.

I am confident that “First Man” will win an Oscar for sound mixing, one of the best parts of the movie. The tension felt when Armstrong is in peril or a strenuous situation are heightened by tense, sharp sounds that really leave the audience uneasy. My absolute favorite part about the sound was how the sound department working on the film had the various rockets used in the film creak and groan like a beast. This really drives home the idea that the rockets are independent creatures and that Neil and his crew have little control over such a monster of a mission, as shown by the countless trials and tribulations faced by the Apollo 11 crew to reach the moon.

The moments where the sound completely fades out to the nothingness of space really shine loudly on the realism and pure awe of this movie. I really enjoyed those moments where you could just sit back after an immensely tense sequence and experience a calm serenity bolstered by the nothingness of space or sound. I think that the sound design team poured hours upon hours of effort into just the sound of the film and I believe that effort will be awarded in the upcoming Oscar season.

Despite political controversy prior to its release regarding the absence of many instances of specifically American achievement such as planting the American flag on the moon, I believe these points are snubbed by the film’s message of universal human achievement. The movie does not avoid patriotism, only focuses on a larger picture and I think criticizing “First Man” for such actions takes away from the point of the film and the positive message it tries to preach to the audience.

“First Man” is a tale of the human spirit and how we can defy limitations and expand our horizons. The bravery and determination of Neil Armstrong are evident in the film and how anyone can reach their full potential. Damien Chazelle’s expertly crafted film speaks to a universal message about hope, progress, and love. Ryan Gosling delivers one of his best performances yet and lets the audience experience the impactful, courageous, and heroic life of Neil Armstrong and his contributions to human achievement.  

 

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About the Writer
Connor Rose, Staff Writer

Connor Rose is a senior at San Juan Hills and this is his first year in newspaper.  He’s beyond excited to be a part of the Express team and is so grateful...

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