Currently on digital and coming to 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD from director Damien Chazelle and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is outer spaces’ “First Man.”
It is 1961 and Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) is about to bounce off the atmosphere testing the X-15 rocket for NASA in the Mojave Desert. He is not as phased by that as he is the illness of his very young daughter Karen. Devastated, Armstrong turns to the Project Gemini and is accepted in the astronaut group.
Deke Slayton (Kyle Chandler) tells Armstrong and his fellow trainees Elliot See (Patrick Fugit) and Ed White (Jason Clarke) that the United States is behind in the space race. Their goal is to pull in front of the Soviet Union and Armstrong is all in. Wife Janet (Claire Foy) supports and prepares for the move to Houston.
Another tragedy hit Armstrong hard with the death of two friends while at the same time he is slated to command Gemini 8. After an aborted mission for Gemini and determined not at fault, Armstrong is selected along with Gus Grissom (Shea Whigham) and Roger Chaffee (Cory Michael Smith) for the Apollo 1 mission.
Once again tragedy strikes again and again as Armstrong is pushed back down the line. Finally, he is told that Apollo 11 will likely be the first lunar landing and Neil begins to withdraw form his family more and more. Janet has had her fill and tells him that it is his responsibility now to explain to their children what he is doing and why.
The mission isn’t without its rough patches, but Neil Armstrong steps on the moon, has a moment of reflect and returns home to his family. There, President Kennedy reminds us all that, “We choose to go to the moon!”
Gosling as Armstrong gives a stoic performance of a man who spends years mired in tragedy. It seems he doesn’t see his own close calls with the same amount of deepness than he does with the loss of family and friends. There is so much hiding in this character that it was like waiting for Gosling to just burst out of his skin at any moment. Yet, he doesn’t but instead occasionally lets the steam out of the kettle and keeps everyone at bay.
Foy as Janet is a woman who clearly supports her husband but, at times, can not seem to get past the wall that Armstrong continues to build with every event in their lives. A strong performance that speaks out when she needs to and waits patiently when she must.
Chandler as Slayton sees what has happened to Armstrong yet embraces what he can do for NASA strongly. Chandler is an actor that can take any role and make it his own and in this film he once again proves his steadiness.
Other cast includes: Corey Stoll as Buzz Aldrin, Pablo Schreiber as Jim Lovell, Christopher Abbott as David Scott, Lukas Haas as Michael Collins, Brian d’Arcy as James Walker, Steve Coulter as Gunter Wendt, Ben Owen as John Hodge, Ethan Embry as Pete Conrad, John David Whalen as John Glenn and Ciaran Hinds as Robert Gilruth.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to its library and making it available for us all to experience and re-experience in our own home theaters. There are films of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer, go to www.uphe.com.
The Blu-ray includes “Deleted Scenes, Shooting for the Moon” — Take an intimate look at the production of “First Man” and the collaborative relationship between Director Damien Chazelle and Ryan Gosling, “Preparing to Launch” — It’s difficult to believe that “First Man” is the first major feature film to tell the story of this Apollo 11 and “Giant Leap in One Small Step” — A heroic character study, “First Man” sheds light on all the hard working individuals that got us to the moon and back.
Also, “Mission Gone Wrong” — Watch as Ryan Gosling reenacts a test piloting sequence gone horribly wrong and see how he trained to nail the landing, “Putting You In the Seat” — Filmed in IMAX to show the vastness of the moon, find out all that it took to recreate the most famous moment in NASA history, “Shooting at NASA” — Hear from Ryan Gosling and Director Chazelle on how shooting at NASA brought unparalleled authenticity to “First Man”, “Astronaut Training” — Go behind the scenes of the three day boot camp each of the actors underwent prior to filming “First Man” and finally “Feature Commentary with Director Damien Chazelle, Screenwriter Josh Singer and Editor Tom Cross.”
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“First Man” is filled with a cast that may seem like small roles but in this film, no role is small in telling such a big story. Although the film deals mainly with Neil Armstrong, it doesn’t forget those who also made the journey through the space program and their contributions to the space race.
The film also acknowledges how difficult the struggle was and the personal sacrifices that were made that allowed Armstrong to put his foot on the moon. That is important when telling the story of our space history and I appreciated it.
In the end — it was a pivotal moment in the history of mankind!