When “First Man” premiered at the Venice Film Festival and Telluride Film Festival inside of a week, it landed like a bomb for audiences. The movie felt instantly like a contender, with many, including our own Mark Johnson, singing the film’s praises. The story of Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) and America’s trip to the moon was something special. Damien Chazelle, a wunderkind director, had kicked off another great film in his filmography. With the film mere weeks from a nationwide release, audiences are starting to get excited. Now, we received another trailer that highlights the difficulty of that journey.
Only one line of dialogue seems to be present in the new trailer, while the rest of the footage leans on the famed John F. Kennedy speech about America going to the moon. Yet with the footage assembled, the welling score, and the grueling physicality, this combination works. The trailer’s use of the speech also works to curtail the “controversy” that the film is Unamerican in some way. The use of the speech will play with most audiences, and highlight that Chazelle and Gosling’s latest feature is not Hollywood fluff. Instead, it is a physically demanding and physically grueling leap into the unknown.
In many ways, the new trailer for “First Man” focuses on appealing to large-scale audiences. There is little doubt the film appears to be a box office player. A biopic about one of America’s greatest directors brought to life in blockbuster form makes sense. With claims that Chazelle brings audiences into space unlike any film in history should win over many as well. With impressive sound work, a riveting score, and stellar production design, “First Man” will score many nominations on Oscar day. The question for Universal will be if they can win the big prize.