REVIEW: Armstrong Takes Viewers To The Man on the Moon

Armstrong poster

Everyone knows the phrase “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,” but most don’t know much about the man who said it. Armstrong aims to change that just in time for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. The documentary uses personal footage from his domestic life and voice overs from his journal entries to paint a more complete picture of who Neil Armstrong was. Given the anniversary, it makes sense that he’s a hot topic – but this film goes a little deeper than the earlier Apollo 11 documentary.

In fact, the aforementioned journey to the moon actually takes up very little space in Armstrong‘s 100 minute runtime. Instead, director David Fairhead chooses to focus on interviews from friends and family to explain Neil’s early life. Harrison Ford gives life to the man’s letters, which adds an emotional layer to his words without ever feeling over-the-top. There are especially moving moments, such as the tragic lessons he learned in war and the loss of his young daughter, as well as moments of triumph previously unheard of.

armstrong release

Ready for take off.

Granted, it doesn’t dig too deep into Armstrong’s private life, but it’s an excellent jumping off point for those who want to know more. Perhaps the most intriguing is how the film tackles the famous astronaut wrestling with his own notoriety. Despite his worldwide acclaim and his ability to charm on press tours, Neil did not seem to adjust to the spotlight. Or even want to adjust for that matter, which led to the ‘dark’ period that the documentary doesn’t touch upon much. Buzz Aldrin is another personality who only gets a few mentions, when clearly there’s a larger story story, but perhaps that’s best left for its own film.

Visually, Armstrong is stunning, even as it relies primarily on previously unseen footage and living room interviews. Though the views of space and the NASA headquarters are certainly dated, there’s something thrilling about the real-life look at the inner workings of astronautical science. Not only that, but when Neil looks down at Earth from the Moon, the audience is sure to feel like they’re right there with him. Whether viewers are accompanying him on a training session with his colleagues or listening to his ex-wife’s account of him as a family man, they will come away with a much better understanding of him as person and of the importance of Apollo 11.

Armstrong will be released in select cinemas on July 12th, and will be available digitally as well. Watch the trailer below to prepare for the breathtaking outer space journey inside one man’s mind: