First Man

Critics Consensus

First Man uses a personal focus to fuel a look back at a pivotal moment in human history - and takes audiences on a soaring dramatic journey along the way.



Total Count: 411


Audience Score

User Ratings: 7,770
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Movie Info

On the heels of their six-time Academy Award (R)-winning smash, La La Land, Oscar (R)-winning director Damien Chazelle and star Ryan Gosling reteam for Universal Pictures' First Man, the riveting story of NASA's mission to land a man on the moon, focusing on Neil Armstrong and the years 1961-1969. A visceral, first-person account, based on the book by James R. Hansen, the movie will explore the sacrifices and the cost on Armstrong and on the nation of one of the most dangerous missions in history.

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Ryan Gosling
as Neil Armstrong
Claire Foy
as Janet Armstrong
Jason Clarke
as Edward Higgins White
Kyle Chandler
as Deke Slayton
Corey Stoll
as Buzz Aldrin
Ciarán Hinds
as Gene Kranz
Patrick Fugit
as Elliott See
Ethan Embry
as Pete Conrad
Lukas Haas
as Mike Collins
Shea Whigham
as Gus Grissom
Pablo Schreiber
as Jim Lovell
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News & Interviews for First Man

Critic Reviews for First Man

All Critics (411) | Top Critics (50)

  • A fascinating film, it's difficult to watch at times because there's so much loss and so much risk that we never really thought about that lead us getting there.

    Mar 21, 2019 | Full Review…
  • This is a movie that - flag or no flag - doesn't need to take a political stance to make a political statement. ●

    Oct 18, 2018 | Full Review…
  • A long, draining, almost painful film that commands admiration more than love.

    Oct 14, 2018 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • As long as First Man is airborne, it's a marvel. I can't recall another movie that conveyed with such punch the perils and exhilarations of spaceflight. It's when the film is earthbound that it falls down.

    Oct 12, 2018 | Rating: B- | Full Review…
  • It's a movie where the technique matches the ambition, one that moves from tragedy to grandeur to personal drama without becoming bombastic or even worse, falsely patriotic.

    Oct 12, 2018 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Ryan Gosling's impassive visage must have the gravitational pull of a black hole, because Chazelle can't seem to keep his camera from being pulled loose from its moorings and drawn in thisclose for more than one or two scenes at a time.

    Oct 12, 2018 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for First Man

  • Feb 18, 2019
    Every time that someone's on a spacecraft, I was into First Man. It might genuinely be the first time I didn't hate scenes shot with continual use of shaky cam, which is noteworthy. But by and large First Man was not for me, biopics often aren't, and First Man is absolutely a biopic. It's not about NASA, or the Space Race, or landing on the moon, on astronauts, those things are present, but it's about Armstrong. I know that, because he is the only person, place or thing we get any real insight into.
    Gimly M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 28, 2019
    There is, about society, a nonchalance about things that involve risk and take effort outside of ourselves: "Aww, that wasn't nothing!" The point of this retelling of Neil Armstrong's first step on the Moon is to remove that nonchalance, and so we are treated to a close-up look of the extreme effort and undeniable risk, and the creeping toll that took on the souls involved. Stripped away are the token patriotism and grandstanding, flag-waving, and we are left with a singular human achievement that touches our lives still. An intelligent and understanding effort.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Dec 10, 2018
    Are you rushing or are you dragging? This quote from the most famous scene in director Damien Chazelle's second feature, Whiplash, kept coming to the forefront of my mind as I sat and took in his latest project-a project that, on the surface-feels radically different from anything the guy has done before. While Chazelle has carved out his niche by making films as influenced by the music that shape them as they are the pictures that compose them the closest thing First Man has to a musical number is a tease that Neil Armstrong was a fairly good piano player and that he might have written a musical with a friend in college. Are you rushing or are you dragging though? This line of dialogue from music instructor Fletcher via J.K. Simmons reoccurred to me though, due to the fact that this time around, in his fourth feature, Chazelle couldn't quite seem to figure out what tempo he wanted to keep. That is to say, there is this grand juxtaposition in First Man between the sections in which we're fully engulfed in the development of the NASA missions and the defining of the procedures and the role Ryan Gosling's Armstrong played in these decisions and then there is the home life of Armstrong, a visually warmer, but still very cold atmosphere that this man inhabits due largely to the fact he is still grieving and dealing with the death of his young daughter-even years after she has passed away. On their own, both serve as equally compelling narratives about a man in crisis each trying to figure out how to overcome something that has both never been done before and something they've never had to deal with or ever dreamt of having to deal with before. And sometimes, when these two disparate environments if not similar situations in regards to their circumstances come together they do so in effective ways; one crossing over with the other creating a broader picture of the layers that not only played into the daily lives of these men, these engineers, these astronauts, but into the lives of their wives (both Claire Foy and Olivia Hamilton are stand-outs in two different types of supportive roles), and their families. There is a particular instance dealing in how "good" the Armstrong's once were at attending funerals as a result of the line of work Neil's in, but while certain moments feel layered and others pop due largely to the stakes at hand there is an inconsistent tone to the overall piece where many sequences dealing in the moon missions feel as if they're rushing given the sheer amount of information screenwriter Josh Singer (Spotlight) is trying to cover while the more personal, introspective moments at home tend to drag in an honest attempt to truly convey Armstrong's mental and emotional processes. Fortunately, by the end, Chazelle is able to haul his intentions over these hurtles and merge the contrasting tones to create a moment that is both visually and emotionally monumental. read the whole review at
    Philip P Super Reviewer
  • Nov 12, 2018
    It's a bit surprising to me First Man wasn't a bigger deal than it is... Other than conservative pundits bitching about a flag not being planted at the end. I mean Ryan Gosling is a bona fide star now and Damien Chazelle has made two successful pictures (Whiplash and La La Land). And it's an event that is unmistakably an American triumph, with or without a flag raising. But then again, I shouldn't be surprised. Space exploration movies in the 21st century need a big hook to become a designated "event film" and be successful. (See: Gravity, Interstellar, and The Martian.) And a SIGNIFICANT percentage of the American population now believes the conspiracy theory that the lunar landings of the Apollo missions were elaborate hoaxes. So, people are fucking stupid. We knew that. But it obscures the fact that First Man is a serious and intelligent film that is more interested in interpersonal development, than it is interstellar travel. And what scenes we do get of the Gemini and Apollo missions are documentary-like, realistic, claustrophobic, and well-researched. First Man focuses on Neil Armstrong's struggle of trying to cope with a chaotic American space program and the loss of his daughter. The domestic scenes are something out of Terrence Mallick's Tree of Life, minus the internal narration. The mission scenes are reminiscent of The Right Stuff, but more focused for obvious reasons. Damien Chazelle opts for a glacially-paced and arty film, rather than an octane-fueled one. That being said, some scenes will keep you on the edge of your seat with building tension, even if you know the result. Gosling acts his ass off, despite the constant criticism of his disengaged expression in many of his roles. His earnest believability and heartache carries many scenes. Claire Foy manages to avoid the nagging wife stereotypes and displays the other half of a couple trying and failing to deal with grief. First Man is a superb and nuanced film that easily could have been a lazy biopic, but it strived to be something more. It's not a perfect film and lacks the oomph or energy to achieve true greatness, but its certainly an interesting choice and one that manages to land on target.
    Joshua S Super Reviewer

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