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First Man Review & Comments

Wedlock

Member
Just came back from this movie and I liked it.....sure it's not great but it's a fun watch and I like the topic the movie covers.

I will go with Kumari's score of 8 as well.
 

JimboH

Well-known Member

Evinger

Well-known Member
Very interested to see this - IMO Ryan Gosling is perfect for this role.

And I'm glad it hasn't turned into yet another a Flag-waving advert for American The Great. These Astronauts, & all the technicians & staff from NASA & all the Companies involved made this event happen on behalf of & in the name of America. It wasn't America itself & all it's people that landed on the Moon (Otherwise I imagine that there would be a rather large dent on the surface!). But I guess this is true of any Country with any momentous event - everyone wants "in" on the glory!

Ok, sorry everyone - rant over, back to my normal scheduling! :D
 

nheather

Distinguished Member
Saw it yesterday on IMAX.

I really enjoyed it, thought it was well made and acted, but then I really like the subject.

But much as I liked it, I think The Right Stuff is better - if you haven’t seen that one, check it out.

I suspect if you are not into the subject you might find it quite slow and boring at times.

Now I don’t know whether it was deliberate to give a 1960s vintage feel but I felt the cinematography looked quite grainy with a fair amount of soft and out-of focus scenes on the IMAX screen. There were some good space scenes but on the whole I wouldn’t say the extra cost of IMAX is not worthwhile over one of the bigger standard screens.

Personally, I’d agree with the rating of 8/10 but if you are not really into the space race then you might rate it lower.

Cheers,

Nigel
 

AlexUK2

Standard Member
I saw this yesterday on a non-IMAX screen. I would agree that some of the scenes were a bit grainy and wondered if they would look any better in IMAX. However I have to say the movie ticked all the boxes for me and would rate it 9/10. I do love space films. Film of the year for me!
 

latenightbarbarian

Well-known Member
Now I don’t know whether it was deliberate to give a 1960s vintage feel but I felt the cinematography looked quite grainy with a fair amount of soft and out-of focus scenes on the IMAX screen. There were some good space scenes but on the whole I wouldn’t say the extra cost of IMAX is not worthwhile over one of the bigger standard screens.
Yes it was, they shot most of it on 16mm film to create that look. Only the moon stuff at the end was shot with IMAX cameras.

This looks like my kind of movie, definitely going to see it :)
 

Lxd55

Active Member
Going to see at imax tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing it. Mark
Kermode gives it a good review too
 

bootyman81

Distinguished Member
Saw it on a very good standard 2:35:1 screen.

Film was very good, a bit slow & sightly plodding in places but as a space nut I found it very interesting.
I saw a lot of things I never saw before & once it reached its climax I was blown away !
Gosling was beautiful in his performance & Foy was as good as I’d hoped for. A beautiful job on cinematography.

PS. I don’t get all the weirdos talking about SJW-ism of the subject matter.
It was like watching a documentary In the most part.

PPS. Since when was fighting for social justice such a bad thing. But maybe this the wrong forum for that type of discussion.
 

nheather

Distinguished Member
One thing about the story that I found really sobering (assuming it was accurate) was that

That the lunar landing was completed without any real menaingful or successful testing or simulation on Earth. Essentially Neil and Buzz left in the lunar lander with no real evidence that that it would work, either in the landing or the return. I know they were both driven men but that took some real guts.

Cheers,

Nigel
 

crabby09

Active Member
It was a good film... But DAMN there was a lot of grain! And it wasn't even consistently applied - like the night scenes having much less the day scenes and even some conversations had different levels depending on who you were watching.

And if the ending was as per IRL... Jeez...
 

Evinger

Well-known Member
One thing about the story that I found really sobering (assuming it was accurate) was that

Cheers,

Nigel
That was another age of adventure.
Now, if you want to put your foot in the water, they have to write a programme to Simulate the Water & the Foot, Put the Foot in the Water, Analyse the results, refine, try again, etc, and then MAYBE a HUMAN can risk putting their foot NEAR the water for increasing lengths of time.
EDIT: I am not condoning people taking risks, merely that people WERE willing to take risks AND were allowed to in that era
 

Gadfium

Active Member
One thing about the story that I found really sobering (assuming it was accurate) was that

That the lunar landing was completed without any real menaingful or successful testing or simulation on Earth. Essentially Neil and Buzz left in the lunar lander with no real evidence that that it would work, either in the landing or the return.
That's is factually incorrect on many levels.
The key elements (rendezvous, EVA, orbital navigation and docking, long duration flights) were all tested in the Gemini program. Exposure to the environment outside of Low Earth Orbit and transition through portions of the Van Allan belts were tested in Gemini 11. In fact, that apogee record set by Gemini 11 still stands to this day (yes Apollo flew higher, but they weren't in Earth orbit.
There were hundreds of hours of vacuum tests of the LM and CSM tested on Earth. Some of these tests were full manned mission simulations in the vacuum chamber.
The Launch Escape System was tested in 7 different flights.
The Apollo program had multiple tests of the various components of the program.
Flights SA-1 t0 SA-5 tested stages of the Saturn launch vehicle and engine shut-downs.
AS-101 to AS-105 tested boilerplate command modules and the first flight computers.
Apollo 1-A tested the CSM heatshield
Apollo 2 tested a longer duration CSM and the heatshield
Apollo-3 tested the S-IVB stage and engine restarts
Apollo-4 flew the CSM and tested a full speed re-entry
Apollo-5 tested the LM in Earth orbit, including both engines and an ascent stage abort.
Apollo-6 tested the Service Module engine
Apollo-7 was the first manned test. The Block II Command Module was tested in Earth orbit.
Apollo-8. First test of cislunar navigation. First test of Lunar Orbital insertion and Earth Orbit insertion
Apollo-9 First manned test of the LM in Earth orbit.
Apollo-10 A dress rehersal for the landing. Cernan and Stafford tested the LM descent right down to 15,000 metres above the Lunar surface. They came very close to crashing when the LM started to rotate uncontrolled.

Pretty much everything bar the final powered descent and touchdown had been tested prior to 11. Apollo 11 was the test flight for those elements. If it had failed, then Apollo 12 would have been the next flight to test those elements.


Now, on to the film itself. I saw it in IMAX
Well, it's an interesting movie. Very much about the relationship between husband and wife and less about the events.
Unfortunately it is ruined by the scourge of modern cinematography....the zoomed-in, wobbly, out-of-focus shot. Just about every shot is tight in so the centre of focus is an ear or a nostril hair. The camera constantly wobbles and moves. Focus is all over the place. No, this does not make it personal or give it a feeling of "being there" (quite the opposite)...it gives it a feeling of being shot by a drunk amateur with early onset Parkinson's. It constantly takes you out of the film and at times disassociates you completely. At times, for instance during the Gemini crisis, it was impossible to look at the screen (I sat about in Row D, four back from the screen so the IMAX screen it filled my vision). This nonsense was just about acceptable in the Blair Witch project or in bad YouTube videos. Every single shot, until a handful on the Lunar surface became tedious and predictable...zoom in, pull focus in and out, wobble, wobble, wobble.

The Gemini 8 crisis was massively over-egged, but I put that down to artistic licence. The film also does a disservice to Scott when
it shows him blacking out and not responding to Armstrong's requests.

The scenes on the Lunar surface were beautiful, and I believe, were the only ones shot in 70mm IMAX. I was delighted to see them getting some important touches correct,
such as the motion of the regolith in the Lunar vacuum (no billowing dust!)

Gosling was OK....he was able to express his full emotional repertoire of mahogany to teak. I'm sure that only Keanu Reeves has ever managed to challenge Gosling for the ability to get people to pay him huge sums of money to act with the emotional nuances of hardwood.

There's a good film in there somewhere, but it needs to be reshot with camera operators that have more than one single technique in their kitbag and that have a tripod or two. Martin Scorsese it is not.

Overall, it's a swing and a miss. Chazelle and his cinematographer Linus Sandgren were totally out of his depth with this one. It's such a shame as the story won't be re-told again and this doesn't do it justice.
 
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nheather

Distinguished Member
Pretty much everything bar the final powered descent and touchdown had been tested prior to 11. Apollo 11 was the test flight for those elements. If it had failed, then Apollo 12 would have been the next flight to test those elements.
But that was exactly the parts of the mission I was referring too - you even included that in your post using my quote.

As for the grainy, soft focus, which looked bad in IMAX - I made that point in my first post and someone replied that it was deliberate, being shot in 16mm to give it that vintage 1960s look.

Cheers,

Nigel
 

Gadfium

Active Member
But that was exactly the parts of the mission I was referring too - you even included that in your post using my quote.

As for the grainy, soft focus, which looked bad in IMAX - I made that point in my first post and someone replied that it was deliberate, being shot in 16mm to give it that vintage 1960s look.

Cheers,

Nigel
The LM was tested. It was tested in manned and unmanned missions in Earth orbit and in Lunar obit. Of course, the touchdown hadn't been tested until 11...if it was then someone else would have been First Man. Your original point was that there was no real or meaningful testing down prior to the touchdown when in reality there were thousands of hours of testing.
The risks were still high though. Armstrong himself said that there was a 30% chance of a succesful touchdown on the first test of that part of the program. Steely-eyed missile men indeed.

The grainy film was very evident. I think three formats were used with the most grainy being used for Armstrong's memories of Karen.
 

nheather

Distinguished Member
The LM was tested. It was tested in manned and unmanned missions in Earth orbit and in Lunar obit. Of course, the touchdown hadn't been tested until 11...if it was then someone else would have been First Man. Your original point was that there was no real or meaningful testing down prior to the touchdown when in reality there were thousands of hours of testing.
The risks were still high though. Armstrong himself said that there was a 30% chance of a succesful touchdown on the first test of that part of the program. Steely-eyed missile men indeed.

The grainy film was very evident. I think three formats were used with the most grainy being used for Armstrong's memories of Karen.
The film did show testing with the bedstead contraption, showing Neil trying to control it and failing and having to eject before it crashed. The film then suggested that this was the end of testing although Neil did say “it’s a bit late for that” so it was left a bit unclear. I think there was also mention later that Buzz had done better and I think he was the pilot of the lunar lander.

But I was just commenting how brave the guys were - how many today would do something where the chance of dying was so high.

My mind boggles at the challenge and bravery - much more than the other Gemini and Apollo tests. Think of all the unknown things that had to go right

1) that the lander could be controlled to descend at the right speed and direction
2) that they will land on a clear bit of the moon
3) that the surface would support the lander
4) that the lander could support the impact of landing
5) that the lander could then take off and dock with the command module

As far as I could see there was little confidence of any of these.

I know a lot of adventurers, soldiers, rescue people face death but I can’t think of much where the odds were so poor.

[/Spolier]


Cheers,

Nigel
 

Gadfium

Active Member
The film did show testing with the bedstead contraption, showing Neil trying to control it and failing and having to eject before it crashed. The film then suggested that this was the end of testing although Neil did say “it’s a bit late for that” so it was left a bit unclear. I think there was also mention later that Buzz had done better and I think he was the pilot of the lunar lander.

But I was just commenting how brave the guys were - how many today would do something where the chance of dying was so high.

My mind boggles at the challenge and bravery - much more than the other Gemini and Apollo tests. Think of all the unknown things that had to go right

1) that the lander could be controlled to descend at the right speed and direction
2) that they will land on a clear bit of the moon
3) that the surface would support the lander
4) that the lander could support the impact of landing
5) that the lander could then take off and dock with the command module

As far as I could see there was little confidence of any of these.

I know a lot of adventurers, soldiers, rescue people face death but I can’t think of much where the odds were so poor.

[/Spolier]


Cheers,

Nigel
Hi Nigel,

The LLTV (Lunar Landing Training Vehicle) was flown by Armstrong more than 30 times and he completed in the region of 50 landings in it. Armstrong rated the craft highly and said that it was the perfect system for training to fly the LM. Armstrong's ejection happened on flight 22 in 1968. He continued to fly the Vehicle, completing his last flight 3 weeks before the A11 flight in 1969.
All of the subsequent Apollo Commanders and LM Pilots flew the LLTV as it provided such good flight experience.

All of the points that you raised had already been tested and were known quantities:
1) that the lander could be controlled to descend at the right speed and direction
That had been tested in Earth orbit and in Apollo 10.

2) that they will land on a clear bit of the moon
Certainly a bit more tricky. The Apollo 11 landing site had been surveyed during Apollo 10. However Apollo 11 overshot the landing site. The cause for this was later found to be some residual air pressure in the docking tunnel which gave a slight "push" to the LM at undocking (a couple of feet/s DeltaV if I recall correctly). When Armstrong realised this he fell back on his test pilot training and decided to "land long". He had to overflew the West crater his initial set-down points were strewn with boulders.

3) that the surface would support the lander
That was a known quantity. The Surveyor landers were specifically sent to test the regolith load bearing capacity. The old wive's tale of NASA not knowing if the surface would support the LM or if it would sink in the dust is just that- an old wive's tale.

4) that the lander could support the impact of landing
A known quantity. The LM had honeycomb crushable sections within the legs to cushion the landing. Multiple drop-tests were performed on Earth, or do you seriously think that they sent a lander all that way without testing whether the legs could support the structure???
The way that the landing as supposed to happen was that as soon as the contact light illuminated (three of the four LM legs had a 2 metre probe that would illuminate the light as soon as the probe touched the surface), the engine shout have been cut and the LM would drop the last 5 feet to the ground.This was to prevent the chance of the engine bell settling on a large rock and overpressuring, potentially exploding) The crushable sections were designed to absorb this shock.
What happened on A11 is that the engine wasn't cut until the LM had settled, making the landing much softer than had been expected. As a result, the legs didn't crush as much as had been designed and it left the final step of the ladder higher off the ground than it had been in training. This is why Armstrong tested jumping back up to the ladder to ensure that he could reach it.

5) that the lander could then take off and dock with the command module
The ascent system had been tested twice in Low Earth Orbit, including a "fire-in-the-hole" abort test as well as multiple times on the ground. Apollo 10 tested the same procedure in Lunar orbit.
Docking and orbital rendezvous had been tested multiple times in both Gemini and Apollo.
What is true is that the actual ascent engine on the LMs that landed could not be tested prior to launch as the engine bell had an ablative surface to protect it. However, the design had been tested and it was a very simple design that did not need pumps, igniters or even electrical power. Multiple layers of redundancy were built in so even if the valves failed the astronauts could take off the engine cover and manually open the valves.

Regarding this bit "The film then suggested that this was the end of testing although Neil did say “it’s a bit late for that” so it was left a bit unclear." I think that he was referring to the deaths of Grissom, Chafee and White. White was Armstrong's best friend and they lived as neighbours. White helped to save Armstrongs kids when Armstrong's house caught fire in 1964. The bond btween them was immensley strong and it hit Armstrong hard when White died in Apollo 1.

Yes there were risks involved in the missions. Is probably fair to say that those risks were much higher than would be accepted today. I couldn't imagine a mission like Apollo 8 going ahead today..in my mind A8 was much riskier than 11. If 8 had suffered the failure that A13 had then Anders, Lovell and Boorman would have perished. However, all of these men were the very best pilots and test pilots that the nation had to offer. They had spent their lives putting their necks on the line testing edge-of-the-envelope designs and many of them had watched their lose friends and colleagues losing their lives in the process. They were prepared to accept the challenges and train as hard as possible to minimise, but not delete, the risks. At the same time, it wasn't a suicide mission.
 
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nheather

Distinguished Member
Hi Nigel,

The LLTV (Lunar Landing Training Vehicle) was flown by Armstrong more than 30 times and he completed in the region of 50 landings in it. Armstrong rated the craft highly and said that it was the perfect system for training to fly the LM. Armstrong's ejection happened on flight 22 in 1968. He continued to fly the Vehicle, completing his last flight 3 weeks before the A11 flight in 1969.
All of the subsequent Apollo Commanders and LM Pilots flew the LLTV as it provided such good flight experience.
Thanks for the info, that certainly did not come across in the film. How it came across to me was, the first time we saw the test bed was when Neil was struggling with the controls and had to eject. It was immediately after that that he had the “it’s over” conversation with the project controllers because his face was still scuffed up and bleeding from the crash. We never saw any more testing so it looked like it was abandoned shortly after it started.

The information on the other tests was very useful, thanks for that. Again I don’t think they were really covered in the movie. It had a fair bit about testing the command module separation and then picking up the lander but not much about the actual lander.

So it seemed to me that Lunar Lander operations were practically untested.

Cheers,

Nigel
 
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Gadfium

Active Member
Thanks for the info, that certainly did come across in the film. How it came across to me was, the first time we saw the test bed was when Neil was struggling with the controls and had to eject. It was immediately after that that he had the “it’s over” conversation with the project controllers because his face was skill scuffed up and bleeding from the crash. We never saw any more testing so it looked like it was abandoned shortly after it started.

The information on the other test was very useful, thanks for that. Again I don’t think they were really covered in the movie. It had a fair bit about testing the command module separation and then picking up the lander but not much about the actual lander.

So it seemed to me that Lunar Lander operations were practically untested.

Cheers,

Nigel
They got an awful lot very correct in the movie...some of the details in the CSM/LM and on the suits were spot on, as was some of the Lunar scenes (like the sparkling in the regolith, presumably glass-like spheroids). It's not an accurate portrayal of history though...there's huge amounts of artistic licence in there.

I left the film feeling really frustrated. I can see that there's a really good movie in there, and the human relationship angle was interestingly done. I can't see beyond the awful, tedious camera-work though. Did they really have to use the same technique in virtually every shot? Even the longer shots (such as when viewing Neil and Janet from their hallway) was wobble, wobble, wobble.

A little imagination in the cinematography would have transformed the movie for me. Oh for Roger Deakins!
 

Spooksta

Well-known Member
Just back
Disappointed
Not enough training shown
Liked the background stuff to Neil and family but I just didn’t think it shows enough of him doing stuff.

3/5
 

Lxd55

Active Member
Back from IMAX, watched with the wife. Both thoroughly enjoyed it, 1st time for the wife re IMAX.

More about the man than the mission, so didn’t have any over the top America is great, saluting etc.

Sound in the imax was awesome - thunderous with the take offs, but equally as good on the silence on the moon, could have heard a pin drop in the cinema - quality.
 
My take is that NASA chose Neil Armstrong for the mission because, as written and played here, he was the most boring man on Earth and it was the best chance of getting shot of him! Joking aside, though, when the outcome is such a known, then a film has to offer something else to the audience and 'reverence', in the form of an overlong running time and laboriously slow narrative, doesn't cut it. Whereas I ended up viewing First Man out of technical as opposed to dramatic or narrative interest, The Right Stuff, Hidden Numbers and the exemplary 2017 Russian film Spacewalker, which deals with the first ever space walk (and in a totally non-political way, just in case someone who has yet to see it chimes in with an accusation of "Soviet propaganda"), are far better and much more entertaining as well.
 

linnasak

Active Member
Saw it yesterday on IMAX.

I really enjoyed it, thought it was well made and acted, but then I really like the subject.

But much as I liked it, I think The Right Stuff is better - if you haven’t seen that one, check it out.

I suspect if you are not into the subject you might find it quite slow and boring at times.

Now I don’t know whether it was deliberate to give a 1960s vintage feel but I felt the cinematography looked quite grainy with a fair amount of soft and out-of focus scenes on the IMAX screen. There were some good space scenes but on the whole I wouldn’t say the extra cost of IMAX is not worthwhile over one of the bigger standard screens.

Personally, I’d agree with the rating of 8/10 but if you are not really into the space race then you might rate it lower.

Cheers,

Nigel
Saw at imax in Edinburgh but disappointed with quality of cinema, left review below:


Imax seats bit scruffy and not as comfortable as recent seats in vip VUE cinema in Inverness.
Picture at start for trailers etc was not square, ie did not fill screen at top. Also perhaps issue with panel alignment as text had coloured edges. Main feature this seemed to be fixed, is it different projector? Blacks were not great, but I was comparing with. Last viewing at Dolby cinema in US. Also I would say was inferior to my projector at home, Sony vw760.

Am I being picky on quality of blacks or was it just cinematography or faulty cinema.

Kevin
 

nheather

Distinguished Member
Saw at imax in Edinburgh but disappointed with quality of cinema, left review below:

Am I being picky on quality of blacks or was it just cinematography or faulty cinema.

Kevin
I didn’t look specifically at the quality of the blacks but I have already said that the picture looked grainy and sometimes out of focus, and that has since been explained as done deliberately (using 16mm cameras) to give a 1960s feel.

Personally, I didn’t like it and made me feel that watching it in IMAX was largely wasted, the exception being a small number of space and moon scenes towards the end if the film.

I still think it is a good film but would not advise spending extra to see it in IMAX.

Cheers,

Nigel
 

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