As he took one giant leap for mankind and into the history books as a legend, Neil Armstrong was still an elusive, uncomfortable and reluctant hero. First Man, from writer Josh Singer (Spotlight, The Post) and director Damien Chazelle (La La Land, Whiplash) attempts to delve into the man behind the mission as it documents NASA’s first journey to the moon and back. Where most movies set in space highlight the vast expanse, First Man tracks more personal, with an almost claustrophobic and certainly uncomfortable view from the tight quarters in the space vessel. This cramped approach doesn’t lessen the impact, the overall sense of wonder, of space travel, if anything it makes the fantastical feel all the more real.
In 1982, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner had an expectation of LA in 2019 that we will likely fall short of: flying cars and android slaves passing as human (called replicants). It painted a dystopian future (is there any other kind?) of dark moodiness and a staggering loss of basic humanity. On that front, we’re a little closer. I wasn’t a huge fan of the original. It had amazing visuals and production design, and thoughtful writing, but I was subjected to the original cut, which had that awful voice-over that managed to ruin an otherwise thoughtful and quiet piece. Blade Runner 2049 capitalizes on the world of the original, and creates a more engaging, more thoughtful, if less stylized film.