Eppler: "First Man" informs, but never stirs - FOX34 Lubbock

Eppler: "First Man" informs, but never stirs

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"First Man" is telling the story of one of the greatest achievements in modern human history - the lunar landing - but it's not a movie that seems all that excited or sentimental about it. I think back on Ron Howard's excellent "Apollo 13," a movie with a lot more heart and soaring emotion about a failed mission the moon. But like this movie's subject, Neil Armstrong, "First Man" has a pretty straightforward, matter-of-fact, workmanlike approach.

Ryan Gosling, who isn't an actor known for emoting, is actually well cast as Armstrong, a man from a generation that tended to keep that stuff under the surface. Hollowed out by his daughter's death, we watch Armstrong work his way up through the space program. Claire Foy is tremendous as Armstrong's wife, Janet, who worries about their family being furthered damaged by loss.

The script is by Josh Singer, whose last two movies, "Spotlight" and "The Post," were focused on the important and fascinating work being done by only mildly interesting people. "First Man" follows that trend, but Director Damien Chazelle punches it up with some pretty outstanding work. Here's a movie about space travel that makes you feel like you're along for the ride. Sequences in the spacecraft are claustrophobic, pulse-pounding and may make you dizzy in your theater seat.   

"First Man" is good - well directed and acted - but never soars to the height of being moving or inspirational.



* * * * * Incredible - One of the best of the year
* * * * Excellent - Touches greatness with only minor quibbles
* * * Good - Plenty to like, definitely worth seeing
* * Mediocre - You can do better
* Awful  - The worst, an insult to movies


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