Review: First Man (4K)

Based on the book First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen and from visionary filmmaker Damien Chazelle, First Man is the riveting story behind the first manned mission to the moon, focusing on Neil Armstrong and the decade leading to the historic Apollo 11 flight.  A visceral and intimate account told from Armstrong’s perspective, the film explores the triumphs and the cost—on Armstrong, his family, his colleagues and the nation itself—of one of the most dangerous missions in history.

The critically acclaimed First Man comes from legendary executive producer Steven Spielberg (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Schindler’s List) alongside fellow executive producers Adam Merims (Baby Driver, Straight Outta Compton) and Josh Singer (The Post, Spotlight) with a screenplay by Singer allowing audiences to relive the historic achievement in human history that has never been told cinematically.

Plot: A Biopic on the life of the legendary American Astronaut Neil Armstrong from 1961-1969, on his journey to becoming the first human to walk the moon. Exploring the sacrifices and costs on the Nation and Neil himself, during one of the most dangerous missions in the history of space travel.

Director:  Damien Chazelle

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 & IMAX

Runtime: 141 min

Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 88% & IMDB 7.5/10

Unboxing (see below)

Special Features:

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Shooting for the Moon – Take an intimate look at the production of First Man and the collaborative relationship between Director Damien Chazelle and Ryan Gosling.
  • Preparing to Launch – It’s difficult to believe that First Man is the first major feature film to tell the journey to Apollo 11. Hear from Director Damien Chazelle and his cast why now is the time to tell the story of this historic event.
  • Giant Leap in One Small Step – A heroic character study, First Man sheds light on all the hard working individuals that got us to the moon and back.
  • Mission Gone Wrong – Watch as Ryan Gosling reenacts a test piloting sequence gone terribly wrong. Go behind the scenes to see how he trained to nail the landing, performing the majority of his own stunts.
  • Putting You In the Seat – Through the use of innovative technology, most of First Man was shot in-camera. Take an in-depth look behind the lens of this epic film.
  • Recreating the Moon Landing – Filmed in IMAX to show the vastness of the moon, find out all that it took to recreate the most famous moment in NASA history.
  • Shooting at NASA – Hear from Ryan Gosling and Director Damien Chazelle on how shooting at NASA brought unparalleled authenticity to First Man.
  • Astronaut Training – Go behind the scenes of the three day boot camp each of the actors underwent prior to filming First Man.
  • Feature Commentary with Director Damien Chazelle, Screenwriter Josh Singer and Editor Tom Cross

4K Blu-Ray Technical Specs:

  • Dolby Vision/HDR 10
  • Sound: English Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital 2.0, French Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French Subtitles

Review & Conclusion:

First Man was shot on 16 & 35 mm film, with the IMAX camera’s being used when we get to the moon in the climatic scene of the movie. As per the norm with UHD release, it was also given a HDR color grade for your viewing pleasure.

Grain. Grain. Grain. If you hate grain, you will not like this. It has a certain aesthetic the entire time with a vibe that goes with the time it was pictured to be shot in, the 60’s. Since this movie was shot on film with aesthetic’s in mind, there will be some soft scenes, but nothing that took away from the film. I’m not against grain or a particular tone like this showcases, but that’s just me.

When it comes to the black levels, there were plenty of times where they crushed extremely hard. Take the very first shot for example, you can’t see where the aspect ratio cuts off it’s so precise. This continues with various scenes that happen in the dark, like the children playing in the backyard, or Neil Armstrong looking at the moon by his pool. I also have to mention that the blacks crush so hard sometimes that it takes over the scene.

As usual with the UHD format, facial features are highlighted every time we get a close up. On top of that you can even pick out the stitching in the characters clothing. Certain scenes like Neil Armstrong and his wife dancing in their living room shows great shadow and slight color detail for how low lit the room appears to be.

This is still one of my favorite movies from 2018 and when the aspect ratio goes full screen on the moon and the sound drops completely — I was transfixed on what was happening just like when I saw the first time in the theater. The IMAX scene is crystal clear with inky blacks and noticeable details on the surface of the moon. There isn’t much color on the screen which gives all the shine to the gold textures on the module and on the astronauts visors. So much has happened to lead up to this point and the ratio change to full screen crystal clear 4K is demo worthy material. Two thumbs up!

Not only is this a fantastic move, it’s a great one to add to your 4K UHD collection. Go and pick it up!

Cheers,

Matt.