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'First Man' Quick Cut

First Man is best when capturing the drama and power of space flight and exploration, and weakest in the quiet moments between. Ryan Gosling plays Neil Armstrong as a haunted, suppressed genius, his relationships forever tainted by the memory of his late daughter. While the approach makes sense, it makes for a somewhat frustrating experience. His mood also seems to change depending on the dramatic needs of the screenplay, with swings with no reasons, inferred or tangible, and too much happening off screen. Some of the conversations with his wife Janet (played wonderfully by Claire Foy) are out of place, almost as if there were cuts made to the dialogue and some of the connective tissue is missing. There is a plot device regarding the daughter that is also a bit eye roll-inducing, half too cute for this serious film. Don't get me wrong, the film is still a powerful examination of the drive to overcome problems both personal and professional, but more attention to the little things would have brought the domestic drama closer in quality to the action.

 

Now, for the good stuff - the launch and space sequences are amazing. They are claustrophobic, loud, and disconcerting, putting you right in the tiny pods with the astronauts. The moon landing is breathtaking - I saw the film in IMAX, and once the pod door opens to the moonscape, the film's aspect ratio also opened from 2.35:1 to IMAX's 1.43:1, and it is quite a sight. It makes the ride worth it, both for the characters and for us.

 

I recommend you see First Man - it is an important story that many people know little about. Just realize you will need to grin and bear some half-cooked appetizers before you get to the main course.

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