Actor Ryan Gosling teams up again with the director of La La Land for a riveting film adaptation of the biography about Neil Armstrong written by James R. Hansen.
The Production: 4.5/5
First Man is the biographical story of astronaut Neil Armstrong(Ryan Gosling)as a test pilot and astronaut in the years preceding the Apollo 11 mission and culminating in his historical role as first man on the moon on July 21, 1969. Armstrong was a family man, and the film highlights the emotional difficulties of a test pilot and astronaut family in a career with a high mortality rate. Janet Armstrong(Claire Foy) is supportive but also resentful of the toll that Neil’s career has on the family in his absences and in the concerns about his safety. The screen story highlights the irony in the fact that the pinnacle of human technology allowed Neil Armstrong to walk on the moon but that same technology was inadequate to save the life of his two-year-old daughter, Karen, who passed away in her childhood from cancer in the decade preceding the lunar landing. At one point in the film, Armstrong is asked by a NASA committee whether he was affected by the death of his daughter. Armstrong’s response was effectively that it would be disingenuous to pretend that it would not have some effect on him. The screen story wisely refrains from attempting to explain that effect, leaving it instead to the viewer to gauge the effect of that tragedy on the astronaut.
3D Rating: NA
First Man appears on 4K UHD disc in its original 2.39:1 screen aspect ratio, with the IMAX sequences opened up to 1.78:1. Video quality is superb, even in the sequences shot on 16mm film, which show some grain, unlike the remainder of the film. The IMAX footage on 4K UHD demonstrates clarity and fine detail like nothing else. The contrast between light and shades of hue in the lunar landing sequence highlights the verisimilitude of the wondrous visual effects. This is a flawless video presentation on 4K and definitely worth the upgrade from Blu-ray.
The English Dolby Atmos audio combines with the excellent video presentation to deliver a full sensory experience. Directional audio is not so much discreet to each speaker as it is ethereal, with the audio mix giving the illusion of sounds from all planes of axis. The punch of audio in certain of the flight sequences is so pronounced as to be terrifying, and immerses the viewer in the stomach churning vertigo that the pilots must have experienced. The Apollo 11 launch sequence particularly creates a wall of sound so awesome that one almost wonders if the rocket stages are proceeding according to plan or about to explode the mission into oblivion. Even though the historical outcome should never be in doubt, the rich audio conveys the rocket launch in such an illusion of reality that may never have been recreated so well before on film.
Special Features: 3.5/5
Special features on the UHD disc include all of the following:
First Man is a first rate account of the space race through the eyes of the first man on the moon. Although the film glosses over the highlights of Neil Armstrong’s career leading up to the Apollo 11 moon landing in favor of spending a good portion of the film on that historic event, First Man is not so much a comprehensive biography as a snapshot of the years immediately leading up to the first lunar landing. The video and audio presentation on 4K UHD are definitely worth the price of admission, and the upgrade from Blu-ray, and the special features are worthwhile viewing rather than dispensable filler. First Man is recommended to anyone interested in seeing a microcosm of the space race of the 1960s through the eyes of the man who lived those events.https://www.amazon.com/First-Man-Blu-ray-Ryan-Gosling/dp/B07HSM5VQ5/ref=sr_1_2?crid=3L1N2480KQNRU&keywords=first+man+4k+bluray&qid=1547921923&sprefix=First+Man+4K%2Caps%2C235&sr=8-2