The Reel Review
Oscar-winning director Damien Chazelle (La La Land) brings us the story of Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the Moon, in this adaptation of James Hansen’s much-heralded 2005 biography written in cooperation with the now-departed astronaut. Ryan Gosling’s spot-on portrait of the famously stoic and unemotional Armstrong shows the terrible physical and emotional toll it took on him, fellow astronauts and their families in the years leading up to the historic 1969 Apollo 11 Moon landing.
But at almost two and half hours, the tediously long story glosses over the more interesting aspects of astronaut training and the awesomeness of such a nearly impossible human achievement, instead focusing on an obsessive, close up filled, hero worship of Armstrong’s physical and emotional suffering alongside his frustrated wife Janet, remarkably brought to life by Claire Foy (The Crown). As a result, other characters are little more than one-dimensional background fodder in a film that, while visually-compelling, is painfully dry and suffers from a frustratingly slow first half. The finale however, silently showing the detailed surface of the Moon in all its vivid IMAX glory, is a spectacular, awe-inspiring iconic moment in film that will make you feel like you are there, and alone is worth the price of admission. It’s just a pity that the rest of the film is so… underwhelming.