First Man

First Man is a 2018 American biographical drama film directed by Damien Chazelle and written by Josh Singer. Based on the book First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen, the film stars Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong, alongside Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll, Ciarán Hinds, Christopher Abbott, Patrick Fugit, and Lukas Haas, and follows the years leading up to the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon in 1969. Steven Spielberg serves as an executive producer.

The movie follows the life of Neil Armstrong from 1961 till the return of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon in 1969. We start off with the 1961 X-15 rocket plane test by Armstrong which almost goes wrong and he is grounded. His two-and-a-half year old daughter, Karen, is undergoing treatment for a brain tumor. Desperate to save her, Armstrong keeps a detailed log of her symptoms and feverishly tries to find possible treatments, but she dies soon afterwards. Grief-stricken, Armstrong applies for Project Gemini and is accepted to NASA Astronaut Group 2. Armstrong, his wife Janet, and their son Rick move to Houston alongside other astronaut families.

By 1965, the family has settled in Houston, and Armstrong awaits selection for a crew. After the Soviets complete the first extravehicular activity (EVA), Armstrong is informed that he will be the commander of Gemini 8, with David Scott as the pilot. Prior to the mission, See and Charles Bassett are killed in a T-38 crash, deepening Armstrong’s grief at the string of recent losses. Armstrong and Scott successfully launch on Gemini 8, and dock with the Agena target vehicle, but soon afterward, the spacecraft begins to spin at a rapid rate. After nearly blacking out, Armstrong activates the RCS thrusters and safely aborts the mission. Armstrong initially faces criticism, but NASA determines the crew is not at fault. Later, White reveals that he has been selected for the Apollo 1 mission along with Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee.

During a launch rehearsal test on January 27, 1967, a fire kills the Apollo 1 crew, and Armstrong hears the news while representing NASA at the White House. The next year, after nearly being killed ejecting from the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle, Armstrong is selected to command Apollo 11, and Slayton informs him that it will likely be the first lunar landing. Armstrong is emotionally distant from everyone including his family. Just before the launch his wife confronts him about the possibility that he won’t survive the flight, and insists that he explain the risks of the mission to their young sons. After telling them about the risks he faces, Armstrong says goodbye to his family and departs.

Apollo 11 successfully launches, and arrives at the Moon on the fourth day out. Armstrong and Aldrin undock in the Lunar Module and begin the landing attempt, but as they descend towards their landing site, Aldrin realizes the area is full of large boulders, forcing Armstrong to take manual control of the spacecraft. The lunar module successfully lands with minimal fuel remaining. After setting foot on the Moon, Armstrong drops Karen’s bracelet into Little West crater. With their mission complete, the astronauts return home and are placed in quarantine, where a rerun of JFK’s 1962 speech “We choose to go to the Moon” is shown, and Armstrong and Janet share a moment of tenderness.

The movie is a typical thrill a moment Hollywood blockbuster action film. It’s kinda dull and quiet without much excitement happening. The acting though is top notch. The Apollo 11 launch, journey and landing on the moon is beautiful done. The film has grossed $44.9 million in the United States and Canada, and $55.5 million in other territories, for a total worldwide gross of $100.4 million, against a production budget of $59 million. 7.5 outta 10!

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