Did you know that IMAX and NASA have been exploring space together since 1979? By “exploring”, we mean that there have been IMAX cameras filming in space from NASA aircrafts. To date, IMAX cameras have been to space with astronauts a total of 24 times and for 7 space films, which is why it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the final lunar sequence in First Man uses footage filmed on IMAX cameras.
First Man, starring Ryan Gosling follows the story of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. The film attempts to make Neil’s saga feel more “down to earth” and relatable by including the loss of his baby girl, along with his day to day family life. Gosling does a solid job portraying Armstrong, but by the end of the film you still don’t feel like you’ve truly gotten to know what was going on inside of Armstrong’s head while he was working towards becoming one of earth’s most famous heroes.
Warning: if you’re prone to motion sickness, you might want to reconsider seeing First Man. On one hand, it’s a blast seeing it in IMAX 2D. The cinematographers have done a great job of recreating the trials and tribulations that Armstrong and his NASA team had to go through to accomplish the first successful Lunar landing, and you will really come to appreciate just how rigorous and dangerous it was to be an astronaut back in the early days of space flight. On the other hand, you’ll feel dizzy and disoriented through most of the film. So go ahead and skip the popcorn and invest in a big cup of ginger ale.
What’s worse is that even scenes happening on earth that are focused on Armstrong’s home life are just as shaky and wobbly. The director went overboard here with too many tight shots and shaky cameras scenes, which all contribute to making the film feel part documentary and part Blair Witch Project in cinematography style.
All in all, First Man is visually beautiful but the storyline feels drawn out, and the camera work will make you feel sick. Ultimately, the last couple of minutes of First Man which uses IMAX footage filmed in space, is the best part of the film, but it feels like a long haul to get there. It’s no surprise then that many NASA scientists watch IMAX films to understand what space is like. Just beware that by the end of the film you’ll feel just as sick as if you really had gone to the moon and back.