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Movie review: “First Man”

Two word review: it’s perfect.

Technically accurate, historically accurate (I’ve talked about Apollo with Buzz Aldrin, Deke Slayton and Gordo Cooper). Direction is superb, the screenplay is a delicate balance of the mundane and the fantastic, the acting is incredible – Ryan Gosling’s performance is all interior. If this doesn’t get Oscar Nominations around for Direction, Writing, Cinematography and Acting, there is no justice.

You really have the feeling of what space flight was like. And how dangerous. None of that NASA “perfect pilots flying perfect spaceships perfectly.” What an accomplishment it truly was.

I’m definitely going to go see it again. Best movie I have seen all year.

18 responses to Movie review: “First Man”

  1. I’m gonna have to see it! Thanks for the review, Tom.

  2. Tom (@tcinla)

    You mention talking (I guess interviewing) with some other astronauts very close to Neil Armstrong.

    Would you be aware of any reason why Neil Armstrong himself never gave any interviews (maybe one or two short ones, that I can’t remember now) after coming back from the Moon?

    Still to this day I find their (the 3 Apollo 11 astronauts) press conference after returning to Earth really intriguing. The long silences, the looking down and not crossing eye contact with each other, the unhappy look on their faces…
    Don’t you think there’s a lot that either they have seen that has never been publicly disclosed to the public and/or they were forbidden to openly reveal?

    Buzz Aldrin has often referred, in various interviews, to non-officially acknowledged “things” they experienced out there… and/or unexplained stuff, such as a “monolith” on Phobos…



    • Well, Michael Collins wrote “Carrying the Fire,” which is one of the best and most informative astronaut books. Buzz Aldrin has specifically said there was no “Area 51 stuff” to what he said. And Armstrong was notorious for not sharing his experiences going back to his childhood. It took the guy who wrote the book about him 2 years to convince him to even meet with him.

  3. Gordon Cooper

    If ever there was a man who had the right stuff Cooper, a guy who had that Oklahoma drawl and steely eyes…someone you’d listen too …stated that he had seen things that where for people who’d only had the clearance for a need to know, stated that he’d seen what may or may not have been on the moon.

    A lot of his statements or U-tube shorts have been blocked.

    Does this mean there will be a renaissance of Apollo space craft models?

  4. Thanks for the reply, Tom (@tcinla) .

    “Michael Collins wrote “Carrying the Fire,” which is one of the best and most informative astronaut books.”

    Never read it.

    “Buzz Aldrin has specifically said there was no “Area 51 stuff” to what he said.”

    Aldrin has already said so many things, later saying the opposite, and so on…

    So many other astronauts & cosmonauts have come forward stating that they have seen and experienced “Area 51 kind of stuff”, while out there…
    Edgar Mitchell, Tom Jones, Eugene Cernan, Scott Carpenter, James Lovell, Brian O’Leary, Marina Popovich, Vladimir Kovalyonok, Musa Manarov, Gennadij Strekhalov… just to name a few.

    “And Armstrong was notorious for not sharing his experiences going back to his childhood.”

    Being self-contained, knowing to keep secrets, were very probably among the reasons for him to have been chosen to lead the team on that 1st landing on the Moon, I guess.

    I still find his years long silence about the Apollo 11 mission somehow intriguing.
    Believe he gave once an interview to 60 Minutes, another one to BBC, but for all those years (until he passed in 2012 if not mistaken) it was really not that much…

    I’ll watch the new film anyway, when possible 🙂



  5. Saw it at the weekend.Great movie finely judged performances by an excellent cast. As a kid growing up in the 60’s and mad about space it had a very realistic feel.A good insight into Armstrong’s character and those of astro nauts generally.
    If you have any interest in the period this movie is well worth a look.
    I didn’t know Armstrong flew F-9F’s during the Korean War.

  6. I read the book and the movie is on my ‘to-do” list. Thanks.

  7. Should have gone for the KO…I think Buzz pulled that punch.

    • Yeah its one of those gotcha moments that gets turned on its head with a good punch …I noticed that Aldrin has a good sized ring on his right hand. Sort of promoting his brand now isn’t he? As in branding.

      One thing about the Apollo space program is that it got the country together and then the world for a brief moment. Then it was watered down by conspiracy nuts who said it was staged and now where talking about the dark side of the moon being held by aliens… so much for Pink Floyd. I also, noticed that Alita Battle Angle is attached to the trailer. Its kind of sad that the real hero’s who risk it all are having to compete with a manufactured
      CGI character. You know the teenyboppers will flock to the Angle and be made to watch “First Man” in class. Leaving the adults or the Baby Boomers to go and watch. Of course Angle will have a sequel …lets hope the sequel to man becomes, “First People” who set up a moon base or go to Mars. The problem is getting everyone on the same page and directed to common goals.

  8. I’m seeing all this for the first time. Who is that moron? ABC Digital? It must be some made-up company that he called “ABC Digital,” but he sure seems happy enough to let those heroes believe he’s from ABC or American Broadcasting Company. What a Troll! I’m with Tom: … “it’s way too bad he didn’t clobber that moron.”

  9. Saw the movie with the wife last Monday. Like you I thoroughly enjoy it. Having been a teenager in the 60’s I was enamored with and followed all of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. The only criticism I have is the last scene with Neil at a crater on the moon which I ascribe to poetic license. If you read First Man by James B. Hansen, there is no indication or evidence that Niel took any memento of his beloved daughter Karen to the moon. However, on page 528 of said book his sister June when asked rhetorically if he did take something of Karen’s to moon, she responded ,”Oh , I dearly hope so,” Having three daughters myself it was a very moving scene for me.

    • The last scene came from the sons, who worked closely with the screenwriter. They said that their father never talked about what he did on the moon, but that they remember the bracelet being in the house before the flight and not there afterwards. So it’s the family’s best guess, that also fits for a movie moment.

  10. I enjoyed it. I too was taken aback by the bracelet scene, but if the family thinks it is plausible, who am I to quibble!

    The more interesting part from my point of view was the tension between Buzz and Neil. I had never heard about that before.

    • Aldrin was so gung-ho to be #1 that he tried to convince Armstrong that since Armstrong was the “commander,”that he, the lower ranking (and therefore “more expendable” astronaut) should go out first. He was so upset over being #2 (raised by a father to believe the score is “#1 or nothing”) that he had to undergo some pretty strenuous psych work to straighten himself out.

  11. Ah, all second sons are the same…

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