By Tim Nasson
Let me make one thing clear, OK, two.
First, Ryan Gosling is a great actor. I have found him to be one of the greatest living actors working since the movie The Notebook was released in 2004. Of course, he started out acting as a kid on The Mickey Mouse Club and morphed effortlessly into an Oscar caliber roles with Half Nelson, La La Land, and even movies he should have received Oscar nods for but didn’t such as Blue Valentine, Lars and the Real Girl, The Ides of March and Crazy Stupid Love, movies for which he received Golden Globe nominations for.
With First Man, in which he plays the most famous astronaut to ever live, Neil Armstrong, he is a one dimensional character, devoid of any personality. Is this the way Armstrong was in real life? I know next to nothing about the man, other than he was the first to set foot on the moon and from what was portrayed about him in the movie. If Gosling portrayed him realistically, Armstrong seems as if he might have had Asperger’s Syndrome, as he is incapable, for the most part, of showing any emotion, save for one touching scene on the moon where he releases his deceased daughter’s bracelet into space.
The director of First Man, Damien Chazelle, is the youngest Best Director Oscar winner in history (La La Land) and knows how to make a movie look great. However, First Man is one of the dullest movies in memory. With a two hour, twenty minute running time, it gets on your nerves right after the opening scene (which is the only part of the movie that soars) with its slow pace and never picks up, with many scenes repeating themselves over and over again. The movie is about the first man on the moon, yet the film takes over one hour and forty-five minutes to get to the moon. Ralph Kramden sent Alice to the moon much faster in each episode of The Honeymooners than Chazelle sends Armstrong to the moon in this film.
Claire Foy (The Crown) plays Armstrong’s wife, and while a great actress, as well, doesn’t capture your heart. There is literally no character in the film that the audience feels for. Not even the three that die during a test gone wrong at NASA.
OK. I know you have all been waiting to hear about this. The right wing news media has made a big stink about the American flag and First Man. Yes, Neil Armstrong planted the flag on the moon. However, there is a lot of fake news being perpetrated by idiots who have not seen the movie. While there is no scene in which Armstrong plants the American flag on the moon, there is a very important scene while the crew of Apollo 11 are on the moon where the American flag is shown planted on the moon. In real life, it took Armstrong more than twenty minutes to plant the flag on the moon. There is no way that the director could have captured that scene in the movie correctly, especially given the length of the film. You should thank Chazelle for not torturing us with another another twenty minutes of a film that is forty minutes too long to begin with.
Will First Man earn a plethora of awards? Maybe. It will certainly be in contention for multiple Golden Globe and Oscar nominations, if the voters are brainwashed enough. Will it make money? Probably not a lot, as it is one of the most boring movies featuring an A-list cast, and directed by an Oscar winner, to hit theaters in 2018.
First Man is Dramatically Dull But Viscerally Stunning