First Man is a 2018 biographical drama directed by Damien Chazelle and written by Josh Singer. The film is based on the book First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen. Steven Spielberg serves as an executive producer. First Man follows the years leading up to the Apollo 11 mission that was designated to go to the Moon in 1969. I’ve learned a lot about the NASA program as well as the complex personal life of Neil Armstrong, which was brilliantly preformed.
**** SLIGHT SPOILERS BELOW ****
First Man starts out in 1961 with NASA test pilot Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) flying the X-15 rocket plane when it inadvertently bounces off the stratosphere. Although he manages to land the plane in the Mojave Desert, his colleagues express concern that his recent record of mishaps is due to distraction and he is grounded. At this point it is evident that there is something wrong with Neil. It is revealed shortly that his young daughter, Karen, is undergoing treatment for a brain tumor. It is obvious Karen is the apple of his eye and the love of his life. Desperate to save her, Neil keeps a detailed log of her symptoms and feverishly tries to find possible treatments, but she soon passes on. Distraught, Neil applies for Project Gemini and is accepted to NASA Astronaut Group 2. Neil’s wife Janet (Claire Foy), and their son Rick move to Houston alongside other astronaut families. Neil and Elliot See (Patrick Fugit), another civilian test pilot become friends along with Ed White (Jason Clarke), the first American astronaut to walk in space. As Neil begins training, Deke Slayton (Kyle Chandler) impresses upon the new astronauts the importance of the Gemini program, as the Soviet Union had reached every milestone in the Space Race ahead of the United States. While still in training, Neil and Janet have a second son, Mark.
By 1965, the family has settled in Houston, and Neil awaits selection for a crew. After the Soviets complete the first extravehicular activity (EVA), Neil is informed that he will be the commander of Gemini 8, along with David Scott (Christopher Abbott) as the pilot. Prior to the mission, See and Charles Bassett are killed in a T-38 crash. Armstrong and Scott successfully launch Gemini 8, and dock with the Agena target vehicle, but soon afterward, the spacecraft begins to spin at a rapid rate. After nearly blacking out, Neil activates the RCS thrusters and safely aborts the mission. Armstrong initially faces criticism, but NASA determines the crew is not at fault. Later, Ed White reveals that he has been selected for the Apollo 1 mission along with Gus Grissom (Shea Whigham), one of the original Mercury Seven astronauts and Roger Chaffee (Cory Michael Smith), capsule communicator for the Gemini 3 and Gemini 4 missions, and the third crew member who was killed with Grissom and White in the Apollo 1 pre-launch test. During a plugs-out test on January 27, 1967, a fire kills the Apollo 1 crew, and Armstrong hears the news while representing NASA at the White House.
I’ve introduced you to a small window of events as depicted by First Man. Neil Armstrong appears to be a brilliant introverted man who never got over the death of his daughter, Karen, which caused him to become an astronaut in the first place. Although the events of First Man is history, it’s worth seeing because of it’s 95% accurate accounts of what actually happened. Many men were killed trying to make the moon walk take place and millions of dollars were spent in a race against time, trying to insure that the United States of American would be first on the moon. This was an intense movie, brilliantly acted and brilliantly exhibited as the scenes were lifelike and captured the seriousness of the moment. I liked First Man very much, as it is an epic lesson of historian proportion and I highly recommend it to all. Kudos to Damien Chazelle for his brilliant direction on First Man. Check it this one out!
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged apollo 11, ben owen, brian d'arcy james, buzz aldrin, christopher abbott, christopher c kraft jr, ciaran hinds, claire foy, corey stoll, cory michael smith, david scott, deke slayton, ed white, elliot see, ethan embry, first man, gemini, gil scott-heron, guenter wendt, gus grissom, janet shearson, jason clarke, jd evermore, jim lovell, john david whalen, john glenn, john hodge, joseph a walker, kris swanberg, kyle chandler, leon bridges, lukas haas, marilyn see, mercury seven, mercury seven astronauts, michael collins, nasa, neil armstrong, olivia hamilton, Pablo Schreiber, patricia white, patrick fugit, pete conrad, richard f gordon jr, robert r gilruth, roger b chaffee, ryan gosling, shawn eric jones, shea whigham, skyler bible, steven coulter, wally schirra, x-15
Hidden Figures is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. Based on true events, Hidden Figures reveals history about the United States space program we knew very little about. I was shocked to know that Black women participated in the launching of the first US astronaut orbiting the earth, in space or that they contributed in any way to launching the first man on the moon. The trials and tribulations they went through broke my heart. This movie tells a story of profound contributions made by three highly educated master minds, toward the space race between the USA and the USSR to gain control during the space age in order to achieve peace, respect and privilege as the front runner and leader, as a nation. The film recounts the story of three African-American women who worked in professional positions at NASA and helped the United States advance during the Space Race.
Mathematician Katherine Johnson and her two colleagues, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, worked in the segregated West Area Computers division of Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. The film focuses on Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), who is the African-American mathematician who participated in calculating flight trajectories for Project Mercury and the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the Moon. Using these calculations, NASA supported John Glenn in becoming the first American astronaut to make a complete orbit of Earth. The film also features Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), a colleague and mathematician specializing in flight paths, the Scout Project, and FORTRAN computer programming. Dorothy was also the first Black woman to become a supervisor at a time when racism and Jim Crow laws were at it’s worst. Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), also a colleague and mathematician at NASA, worked to analyze data from wind tunnel experiments and real-world aircraft flight experiments at the Theoretical Aerodynamics Branch of the Subsonic-Transonic Aerodynamics Division at Langley. She ultimately authored or co-authored 12 technical papers for NACA and NASA.
Al Harrison, (Kevin Costner) is the director of the Space Task Group who Katherine reported to but was told not to get close with. Any positive changes that were made, came from Harrison who was brilliantly played by Costner. Vivian Mitchell, (Kirsten Dunst) delivered orders to Dorothy and the 30 Black women Dorothy supervised and trained. Paul Stafford, (Jim Parsons) was the head programmer under Al Harrison and like everyone else, against women and Blacks being present in the program. John Glen (Glen Powell) The first astronaut to obit the earth and obviously a charismatic man who appeared to be non-racist. Colonel Jim Johnson, (Mahershala Ali) married Katherine who was a widow, taking on her three children from her first marriage.
Hidden Figures is at times, very emotional but a wake up call for those who could never imagine what it was like to be treated the way Blacks were treated for no reason other than being Black. Hate is a terrible thing and a terrible waste of energy. I was happy to see credit given to these women who achieved so much and contributed so much. If there is no mention of these women in taught in Black history, there should be and if you haven’t seen this movie, you should because it’s truly a great one. The story is spot on and the acting is outstanding. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an Oscar nod or two come out of this film.
[HIDDEN FIGURES is nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, and Writing Adapted Screenplay]
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged al harrison, apollo 11, colonel jim johnson, dorothy vaughan, fortran, glen powell, hidden figures, janelle monae, jim parsons, john glen, katherine g johnson, Kevin costner, kirsten dunst, mahershala ali, mary jackson, naca, nasa, octavia spencer, paul stafford, project mercury, taraji p henson, usa, ussr, vivian mitchell
Look for The Martian to be nominated for best picture and more. It is worth every second of it’s 141 minutes. When I heard The Martian being compared to Gravity, I didn’t want to see it because I didn’t particularly like Gravity. The only similarity is deep space aliened with crisis. Matt Damon plays Mark Watney, an Astronaut on a manned space mission to Mars along with five other crew members, Rick Martinez (Michael Peña), Beth Johanssen (Kate Mara), Chris Beck (Sebastian Stan), Alex Vogel (Aksel Hennie) and Mission Commander, Mellissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain). During a daily routine task, the crew was hit with an intense storm that caused Mark to disappear from their sight while also putting the lives of the crew at stake. Considering the situation, Mark was presumed dead forcing the Mission Commander to reluctantly leave Mark behind as the crew fled from planet Mars.
Mars provides nothing we as humans would need to survive. Water, oxygen, fertilized soil, gravity, animals and for the most part, no light exists on Mars. Unable to contact NASA, Mark uses his knowledge as a botanist to grow potatoes within the mission’s artificial habitat, anticipating that he will need to survive for at least four years before the next crew was scheduled to land. He would have to journey to the landing site of Ares IV which already has some infrastructure on Mars. To maintain morale, Mark begins to modify the habitat’s rover to make it capable of long journeys while keeping a series of video logs. Without giving away the whole movie, I will conclude the revealing the plot at this point saying that NASA does find out that Mark is alive and though some ingenious manipulations and thought process, he finds a way to communicate.
Between the efforts of Jeff Daniels who plays Teddy Sanders, Head of NASA, Chiwetel Ejiofor who plays Vincent Kapoor, NASA mission director, Mackenzie Davis as Mindy Park, satellite planner in Mission Control, Donald Glover as Rich Purnell, NASA astronomer, Sean Bean as Mitch Henderson, NASA mission director and Kristen Wiig as Annie Montrose, NASA spokesperson, the journey becomes both enlightening, intense, complicated and exciting. Involvement from the China National Space Agency (CNSA) offers NASA classified information and help which was both exciting to hear and learn what they had to offer.
From the cast to the plot, to the intensity of the story to the brilliance of the acting and the efforts and planning of all who worked on this movie, I applaud The Martian and thank Hollywood for a movie that truly makes a difference when we really needed one. There is so much more that I couldn’t tell as not to spoil any more than I did. Whether you like science or not, The Martian is worth seeing. Great job, great directing, great writing, great movie!
[THE MARTIAN is nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Cinematography, Costume Design, Best Director, Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects]
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged ares iv, botanist, Chiwetel Ejiofor, cnsa, donald glover, jeff daniels, mackenzie davis, mars, matt damon, mindy park, nasa, potatoes, rich purnell, satellite, teddy sanders, the martian, vincent kapoor
When it’s your time, it’s your time. Matthew McConaughey is on a roll. His performance in Interstellar was fantastic. Matthew played Cooper, a retired NASA test pilot, turned farmer, who has a passion for space, flying and discovery. Anne Hathaway was equally magnificent in the role of biologist Amelia, the daughter of a renowned scientist named Brand, played by Michael Cain. The special effects and the great attention to detail is nothing short of phenomenal. Interstellar is a blockbuster of a movie that is well suited for those with a scientific mind and a real sense of adventure. I couldn’t begin to tell you of all the complicated jargon that went into Interstellar to complete this level of cosmic interest. Interstellar is about a team of space travelers who must travel through a wormhole in search of a habitable planet. It seems that Earth’s natural resources are at the brink of extinction, causing us to regress to an agrarian civilization, which is failing. According to Brand, there are 3 planets on the other side of the wormhole that qualify as worthy candidates. At this point, the story gets too complicated for this review but I will tell you that Interstellar has it all, from the “Endurance” that Cooper pilots, to the 2 robots (Case and Tars) that accompany the crew on their journey to the black hole called Gargantua. There is time travel and time lines that are truly fascinating. Cooper’s daughter Murphy, who is called Murph throughout the entire movie becomes a central character and is played by 3 different actresses. In the end, Cooper, who is raising his 2 children (Tom and Murph) must decide between seeing his children again and the future of the human race. Exciting, interesting, entertaining and thought provoking are some of the words that best describe this movie. Interstellar is 2 hours and 49 minutes well worth spending both your time and money to see but is not for everyone. Some folks may find it too scientific!
[INTERSTELLAR is Nominated for Music (Original Score), Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects]
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged amelia, anne hathaway, biologist, brand, case, endurance, farmer, gargantua, interstellar, matthew mcconaughey, michael cain, murph, nasa, pilot, planets, science, tars, wormhole