It is presented in a somber manner as Neil Armstrong’s (Ryan Gosling) emotional turmoil is pushed to the forefront, reminding us of the man behind the victory.
Instead of painting a shallow picture of the iconic hero who set foot on the moon, Chazelle focuses on the grief, turmoil, loss and sacrifice endured by Armstrong and his wife Janet (Claire Foy) when tragedy hits their family.
The film opens in 1961. Armstrong is a test pilot, and after a failed landing, his boss keeps him benched. Soon after, Armstrong and his wife lose their daughter to cancer. The stoic, tight-lipped man doesn’t openly grieve, but instead applies to NASA, which is looking for trainee astronauts.
He gets the job and we see him train alongside fellow astronauts as they go on Gemini missions. Not only does Armstrong grieve internally about his daughter, but he also loses colleagues during the many test missions.
The Oscar-nominated film takes us on Armstrong’s journey over eight years, until he finally takes part in the Apollo 11 mission and lands on the moon. However, the journey and the storytelling style are what sets this film apart from others.
Chazelle doesn’t reiterate what other directors have done in the past — instead he explores the man behind the story. Armstrong’s internal battle is put in the spotlight and the audience feels his losses and grief, as well as his sacrifices. It’s well-told and well-portrayed by both Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy. The failures and disappointments give us a glimpse behind the success of that day — an angle audiences will appreciate.
The cinematography, editing and score are brilliantly done, adding more depth to the characters and the events as they unfold. You feel the danger as the astronauts risk their lives for a “giant leap for mankind.” I only wish the movie was a little shorter, especially the test pilot scene in the opening. Other than that, it’s an eye-opening, entertaining biopic.
Bonus Blu-ray features include:
* Feature Commentary with director Damien Chazelle, screenwriter Josh Singer and editor Tom Cross
* Shooting for the Moon – A behind-the-scenes look at the production
* Preparing to Launch – Damien Chazelle talks about the importance of telling the story of this historic event
* Astronaut Training – A look at the training that the actors went through prior to filming
* Giant Leap in One Small Step – Showcasing the brave people who were instrumental in getting to the moon
* Mission Gone Wrong – A behind-the-scenes look at how Ryan Gosling trained for the test pilot scene
* Putting You In the Seat – An in-depth look behind the lens of the film
* Recreating the Moon Landing – How the most famous moment in NASA history was recreated
* Shooting at NASA – Ryan Gosling and Damien Chazelle talk about shooting at NASA
* Deleted Scenes
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