I'm sorry folks, I just can't get on board the "First Man" train, not for particularly political reasons, such as what Richard Brody and Armond White seem to be doing, but I rather believe Damien Chazelle's film was stilted, impenetrable if you will. And it didn't help that I couldn't care less about the moon landing in the first place.
Yes, the film is about a huge, earth-shaking event, one which I wasn't alive to bear witness to or understand the importance of, but truth be told, what did the government exactly accomplish by going to the moon? Stealing Americans' precious tax-paying dollars? From all that I've read, Armstrong's landing was a statement of American jingoistic might against the Russians. In fact, one of the film's more fascinating sequences is a montage sequence of protests happening all around the country, backed by Gil Scott-Heron’s classic protest song “Whitey on the Moon,” which tries to show us how inner-city destruction took a backseat to the government's adamant push to put Apollo 11 in space.
I am, in no way, trying to denigrate the moon landing which was a monumental event for the world and humanity, but close to 50 years later, millennials aren't the least bit astonished by the feat. So consider me not surprised by First Man's box-office opening numbers. It fell short, way short, and might not break even and make up its $60M budget.
Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman wrote about the film's failure to ignite with audiences, and more or less reiterated my belief that, in his words, "no one gives a damn" about the moon landing because "they’ve seen it before. And they’ve been seeing it for most of the last 50 years."
Gleiberman goes on to specifically mention George Lucas' "Star Wars" saga which he says, “co-opt[ed] the imagery of space and elevate[d] it into a video-game religion,” he notes. “That may have been one of the reasons the space program faded; it began to seem prosaic by comparison. "Star Wars" was colorful and energized, but the moon, after we’d conquered it, remained barren and gray. What were we going to do, grow vegetables there?"