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CONTRIBUTED PHOTOIn “First Man,” Ryan Gosling portrays United States’ NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first human to walk on the moon. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOIn “First Man,” Ryan Gosling portrays United States’ NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first human to walk on the moon.

Movie Review: Bang, zoom, to ‘Man’ on the moon

Tuesday, October 23, 2018 by Paul Willistein in Focus

“First Man” is fiery, from the incendiary launch of the Saturn rocket during liftoff at Cape Kennedy.

“First Man” is jolting, from the vibrations of the seat in the Imax theater where the movie was seen for this review.

“First Man” is tender, in scenes between Ryan Gosling, who portrays Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, as he comforts his two-year-old daughter, who died of a brain tumor.

“First Man” is strong, in the strength of character, courage and resolve of Armstrong, and that of his wife, Janet (Claire Foy), the proverbial “behind every great man” there’s an even greater, and stronger woman.

“First Man” is a triumph in real-life based space exploration movies, taking its place right up there with “The Right Stuff” (1983) and “Apollo 13” (1995).

Look for multiple Oscar nominations for “First Man,” which is a must-see and is recommended to see in the Imax format.

“First Man” director Damien Chazelle, who won a director Oscar for “La La Land” (2016), works from a screenplay by Josh Singer (Oscar, original screenplay, “Spotlight,” 2015).

This is a personal story of a United States astronaut during the space race between the U.S. and the former U.S.S.R. culminating in 1969 when Armstrong became the first human to land and set foot on the moon. “That’s one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind,” Armstrong famously said as the world watched him on the telecast from the moon.

The movie and screenplay is based on the book, “First Man: The Life Of Neil A. Armstrong,” written by James R. Hanson.

While the backdrop of triumphs and tragedies of the NASA Apollo moon-landing program is included, “First Man” concentrates on the emotional core of Armstrong and the impact of the lunar mission on himself, his fellow astronauts, and his family.

Gosling, who had the lead actor role in “La La Land,” is particularly well-cast to play Armstrong. Gosling brings a near unflinching steely countenance to the role, mixed with quiet moments of inquisitiveness and fatherly love. As Armstrong, Gosling is not only the man on the moon, he’s the man in the moon (check out the movie’s poster).

Foy has many revelatory moments as Armstrong’s independent-minded wife. Foy plays the role with as fiery a personality as that of a Saturn rocket blasting off from the launching pad.

“First Man” captures the awe of space travel, the challenges of the moon program’s limited technology, and the thrill of the launch and journey to the moon. Credit Director of Photography Linus Sandgren (Oscar, cinematography, “La La Land”) and Editor Tom Cross (Oscars, editing, “La La Land,” “Whiplash,” 2014). You really feel as though you are in the seat of the cramped Apollo space capsule.

What’s most memorable about “First Man” is the portrayal of the passionate, yes, fiery, dedication of Armstrong and his fellow astronauts and those in NASA’s Apollo program: ordinary, yet smart and talented men and women. Against almost insurmountable odds, they succeeded to create the “First Man.”

“First Man,” MPAA rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers.) for some thematic content involving peril, and brief strong language; Genre: Biography, Drama, History; Run time: 2 hrs, 21 miins.; Distributed by Universal Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous: The soundtrack, with Damien Chazelle again working with his composer collaborator, Justin Hurwitz (Oscar, original song, score, “La La Land”), includes the teen-age bachelor pad classic, Les Baxter’s “Lunar Rhapsody” (written by Harry Revel and performed by Samuel Hoffman and Les Baxter), a favorite that the real-life Neil Armstrong and his wife danced to.

Box Office, Oct. 19: Jamie Lee Curtis is “The Scream Queen” all over again as “Halloween” scared up $77.5 million to open at No. 1 at the weekend box office, the second largest October opening ever ($3 million less than “Venom”’s October weekend opening), keeping “A Star Is Born” at No. 2 with $19.3 million, $126.3 million, three weeks, and becoming the antidote to “Venom,” at No. 3, dropping two places from two weeks at No. 1, with $18.1 million, $171.1 million, three weeks, as “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” continued at No. 4 with $9.7 million, $28.8 million, two weeks.

5. “First Man” orbited down two places, $8.5 million, $29.9 million. 6. “The Hate U Give” moved up three places, $7.5 million, $10.6 million, three weeks. 7. “Smallfoot” dropped two places, $6.6 million, $66.3 million, four weeks. 8. “Night School” dropped two places, $5 million, $66.9 million, four weeks. 9. “Bad Times At The El Royale” dropped two places, $3.3 million, $13.3. million, two weeks. 10. “The Old Man & The Gun“ moved up five places, $2 million, $4.2 million, four weeks.

Unreel, Oct. 26:

“Suspiria,” R: Luca Guadagnino directs Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Doris Hick, and Malgorzata Bela in the Horror film. A dance company, an artistic director, a young dancer, and a nightmare. Pull up to the barre.

“Johnny English Strikes Again,” PG: David Kerr directs Olga Kurylenko, Rowan Atkinson, Emma Thompson, and Charles Dance in the Comedy. Undercover agent Johnny English must track a hacker.

“Indivisible,” PG-13: David G. Evans directs Justin Bruening, Sarah Drew, Jason George, and Tia Mowry-Hardrict in the Drama. The movie is based on the true story of Army Chaplain Darren Turner and his wife Heather and their marital woes.

Four Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes