Posted On: Friday - November 9th 2018 10:05PM MST
In Topics:   Political Correctness  Movies  Science
Besides being a review of a new movie, for a change, this post is also a review of GOING to the movies, as it's been quite a while. I will say, that this afternoon showing of the Neil Armstrong Biopic movie, First Man was fairly pleasant though the 2 factors that made it so were a) free tickets for most of us, and b) only a few people in the theater with us.
As far as (a) goes, yeah, they would have been $10 tickets, quite a shocker to a guy who hasn't been but once in a decade or so. There's no particular reasons that I've ever understood to watch a movie when it first comes out, at this kind of price, versus a year later, for free or almost, on a DVD or off Netlix, what-have-you. As for (b), another reason to stay home is to avoid loud annoying viewers*. With only 25 other people in a place that could hold 200, it was nice and quiet ... except for the rocket scenes which damn well have better been loud. I don't follow the box office opening weekend and total "takes", as I don't give a tinkerer's damn about the whole movie business. Is it entertaining and not annoying due to PC and an agenda? Good. I can't help but wonder if First Man isn't making much money, or are the movies that empty in general now (maybe cause they charge 10 bucks!)
Now, the movie itself was a good one. I'd give it a full 5 stars, unless you are one who is neither into anything technical nor into being proud of this greatest of moments in American history. Before I write anything more, I'd like to refer the reader to 3 reviews with reader comments from unz (but, of course): John Derbyshire's October Diary, under the heading The Moon … and Mars and Venus**. Mr. Steve Sailer, who LUVS the movies wrote this review, but then, as a comment below that one was a great review unto itself, Mr. Sailer kindly posted separately Buzz Mohawk's review.
Part of the internet-talk about this movie written before it came out was about the lack of a scene showing the planting of the American flag on the lunar surface as a big deal. I don't mean that the actual planting of the flag wasn't very symbolic and meaningful, but I don't think that scene was strictly necessary. The movie showed the Apollo program as being all-American, surprisingly enough.
More surprising was almost-total lack of Political Correctness. As Mr. Derbyshire wrote, they even have characters that smoke fairly incessantly. Smoking has switched places with the wacky-tobaccy in today's society as the evil drug, so often times, movie directors will act like there is no such thing. No problem in this movie. The space program was shown as a white man's project, as it was, with only the very quick takes (twice) of black guys wearing their headsets at the Houston mission control center. I mean by this, 1/2 second shots. I really wonder how much they paid the 2 (or was it really just one) black guy for this. "Hey, 250 bucks, man, yeah, just put this on, look to the left and act like you're concentrating." "No, OK, cut off the dreadlocks, and come back tomorrow, or we don't have a deal. There are a million other brothas on the street I can get for the scene."
I was worried about the technical realism a bit, especially from the first scene. As Neil Armstrong piloted his rocket plane in the upper reaches of the atmosphere, in the late 1950's keep in mind, the voice coming over his radio from the ground was clear and static-free. That was ludicrous, as this was before the Bose active-noise-reduction headset, with analog tuning, and he'd have been lucky to make out anything. This sounds like a quibble, but the voice was like the voice of God, and it made that scene kind of stupid. However, there was not much more of this unrealism that I could detect. In the landing scene, it shows the landing barely missing a crater that would have been totally unsuitable and probably have resulted in death. I reckon Armstrong would have piloted around this feature from much greater height.
That's not to say that this feat was not amazing, and speaking of the landing, Peak Stupidity posted a youtube video this past January of the Apollo 12 (next mission) actual landing footage with audio from > 48 years ago, with some discussion about it. Hit that link for supplemental material for this review. The scenes of the most exciting parts of the mission, along with scenes of the decision-making and training going on before hand are very good, IMO. It's about as good as the movie Apollo 13, in this respect.
One thing that may turn some viewers on and others off is the chick-flick drama that's part of this movie, regarding Neil Armstrong's family. Granted, this is more of a biography than Apollo 13 was, so I guess it belongs to some degree. As the other reviewers I linked to have stated, though, this is to bring in the female viewers, or at least to keep their interest. It was tolerable.
First Man was definitely a feel-good movie due to its recalling of this can-do time in the period of America's greatest strength. I'll excerpt one paragraph from the Apollo 12 landing footage Peak Stupidity post:
Back to the question - has there ever been a country in such great shape economically and demographically to have accomplished such a feat? I don't want to get into too much detail, but the electronics of the age were so far from what any cheap 10-year-old Motorola phone would have now (compared to the whole spacecraft put together!) that Earth was a different world from now too. The REAL ENGINEERING involved, no, not software programming, but true mechanical and electrical genius and problem-solving was tremendous. How far back has the onset of Socialism, being implemented that same decade, set American from the course to the stars that we could have otherwise stayed on? It's not just the money that's been wasted and done much more harm than good - it's the attitude of this whole place that has changed. The whole thing is saddening, ...Go see First Man even if you do have to pay a pretty penny. After having seen it, I recommend that.
* ...The Rocky Horror Picture Show being a huge, huge exception, of course. I saw it in Germany, years after it was a big thing in America (they do get very behind over there on pop culture), and nobody squirted water guns, threw rice and bread, dressed up like characters, yelled at the characters at the appropriate times, or sang along. Were they that clueless, or was it just that they were Germans, it being Germany and all?
** These are very interesting, and something to look forward to once a month, but the topics really should be broken up into separate posts on unz. That's why I pointed specifically to that heading, which is his review of the movie in question.