First Man (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

First Man 4K ReviewIf I didn’t know any better, I’d think this was a movie about the first “caveman” given its “primitive” sounding title.  I know that’s a complete stretch, but for some reason First Man came as a surprise to me.  I initially knew nothing about it, but given the success and my adoration of 2016’s Hidden Figures I was instantly onboard upon seeing the first trailer last year.  My love for space and interstellar voyages knows no boundaries, but my debunking of what’s true and what’s not gets the best of me every single time.  That’s why First Man had me at hello.  Truth be told, the initial positive reviews of it also helped as well.  Let’s go on this voyage together and take a closer look down below at what First Man is all about.

First Man


First Man revolves around the life of legendary U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong.  You know supposedly the first person to walk on the moon!  This biographical drama, based on the book First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen, is directed by Damien Chazelle and written by Josh Singer.  It stars ladies man Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong, along with Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll, Ciarán Hinds, Christopher Abbott, Patrick Fugit, and Lukas Haas.  First Man focuses on the decade leading up to the 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the moon.  Steven Spielberg also has his hands in this outing as an executive producer.  And just in case you didn’t catch it this is also the re-teaming of Chazelle and Gosling here.  Remember that little flick called La La Land?

What makes First Man very interesting for me is that it’s kind of told personally from Armstrong’s point of view.  While we follow other pertinent characters throughout we never lose sight of the fact that this is very much Neil’s story.  How much of it is true and how much of it is Hollywood I really can’t tell you, but regardless I feel like I walked away closer to Neil than ever before.  For example, I never knew about his daughter, his family struggles and tribulations.  That aspect of his life was emotionally electrifying here not to mention the death defying situations I saw the man heroically get out of here.  It made the famous astronaut even more inspirational in my eyes.  Again though I hope I’m not just blinded by any Hollywood fiction thrown in.  I guess I’ll never really know.

In addition to the very believable performances of Gosling, Foy and others there’s also two other stars here.  Those are the film’s IMAX cinematography, albeit very shaky at times, and the score done by Justin Hurwitz.  Both actually put you in the driver’s seat here as you literally feel every bump and bruise Armstrong takes whether it’s maneuvering out of a death defying aerial situation or even the training he underwent to do such.  The technical challenges of what NASA overcame in both the Gemini and Apollo programs were awe inspiring when you see them onscreen.  However, does one really think of what the home life is also like for the extraordinary human that accomplishes these unbelievable tasks?  Do you see where I’m going here?  The grass is always greener on the other side and now we see why according to the story of humanity on display here.

Before we head down to the A/V portion of things here in this review I want to be completely honest with you.  What really makes First Man really work is it doesn’t get bogged down too much in the history facts or mathematics of it all.  By delivering on an emotional screenplay about a flawed character we care about the movie soars even before its subject matter gets off the ground and does the deed we came here to see.  Sure it was cool seeing some familiar names like Buzz Aldrin fleshed out on-screen, but the strength of the leading man here and his woman is blatantly obvious.  We care about them and as a result we the audience are invested in them despite the Titanic-like story we already know the ending to.  It doesn’t hurt either that the movie starts off on a high…literally.  You’re basically riveted here before our main protagonist is properly introduced.  I appreciated that.  Also, not once did I even grow tiresome from the flick’s 2 hour and 21 minute runtime.  That’s saying a lot.  It’s not overly patriotic, but rather a deep, awe inspiring character study of one of Earth’s greatest explorers of the heavens.  Best of all it’s a story of both triumph and humanity.

First Man


The below video score and related critique of things here are based solely upon my viewing of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Universal’s First Man.

  • Encoding: HEVC / H.265
  • Resolution: 4K (2160p)
  • Dolby Vision: Yes
  • HDR: Yes
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 & 1.78:1 (IMAX sequences)
  • Clarity/Detail: First Man is not really a stunning looker on the format.  The image is quite soft compared to most modern day films on the 4K format.  It even manages to look quite dated in appearance.  While that lends credibility to the time period of the narrative I do feel grain haters will harshly bash this image hence the score here of only 4.  Quite honestly too there’s not much of an uptick or difference between the 4K disc and the 1080p Blu-ray one.  Close-ups on the actors do present opportunities for fine details like stubble, pores, wrinkles and freckles.  Textures are also prominent when allowed to be.  Some of my favorite moments though include the instrument panels within the aircrafts piloted here.  I swear you can make out all the controls with clarity.  Just wait though until that Act 3 when things open up full IMAX.  Clarity is everywhere you look then!
  • Depth: This is a space movie so there’s quite an amount of vastness to it all from the outer space sequences to the never-ending trails of sand within the desert.  However since the footage here does not always pop three-dimensionally due to the softness employed (much of it shot on 16mm) that does make the image a little less deep, but nevertheless the picture is both beautiful and natural looking.
  • Black Levels: The black levels are all dark, deep and natural looking for the most part.  Some of the nighttime sequences though are rather dark, but the subject matter is always visible.
  • Color Reproduction: Things really fluctuate here with the colors.  In the beginning things are more natural and earthy, but fast forward to Act 2 and colors really start to pop much brighter and that contrast continues throughout the rest of the presentation.
  • Flesh Tones: The skin tones all looked natural, pleasing and authentic throughout the presentation.
  • Noise/Artifacts: Things never really look bad here.  It should be noted that there is a light veneer of grain throughout the 4K presentation, but it doesn’t stop there.  Yes the grain presentation here is refined, but due to the aging of Act 1 some white specks are visible.

First Man


Like I mentioned up above in the video section, the below audio score and critical comments of such are based solely upon my viewing of Universal’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of First Man.  I do want you to know that both the 4K UHD Disc and 1080p Blu-ray one houses a Dolby Atmos surround track.

  • Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby Digital 2.0, French Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
  • Dynamics: What I love about First Man is it essentially wastes no time at all immediately putting you in the driving seat during a test sequence above the Earth’s atmosphere.  Right then and there you know you’re in for a turbulent time with this Atmos surround track.  Besides these kind of moments First Man is mostly a drama so rest assured you’re in good hands as during all these lulls nothing is lost in the atmosphere of everything.  Make no mistake about it though big moments onscreen are very demanding and this track’s fidelity balances things nicely.
  • Height: The height channels can be heard mostly in the more tension filled sequences such as examples like heavy breathing, rain, creaks, rattles, lights shaking overhead, thrusts, rumbles and so much more.
  • Low Frequency Extension: What else can you say about the LFE except wow.  It’s very forceful and impactful, but rightfully so.  I mean look at the heft of the vessels and action happening onscreen.  From turbulence to thrusting rumbles everything has an overall sense of heft here whenever called upon.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: While this track is very front heavy because of all the drama, hence why the score is not perfect for those nitpickers, the rear channels pretty much capture everything we’ve already covered here and more.  Such moments of thrusters, creaks, rattles, rumble and even score can be heard all around you.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: The dialogue levels throughout are both clear and intelligible.

First Man


In addition to the embossed slipcover First Man arrives on the 4K ultra HD Blu-ray format with a slew short featurettes, two deleted scenes and even one of those rare audio commentaries you don’t see many of nowadays.  Best of all these extras which are showcased below can be found on both the included 4K UHD and 1080p Blu-ray Discs.  Of course you’ll get the usual redemption code too for the film in 4K via Movies Anywhere.  So without further ado let’s take a closer look at everything you’ll find here.

  • Deleted Scenes (HD) – Included here are two deleted scenes: House Fire (3:37) and Apollo 8 Launch (0:37).
  • Shooting for the Moon (HD, 3:40) – This one is all about the collaborative work between Damien Chazelle and leading man Ryan Gosling, what drew him to it, the production and Armstrong’s story arc.
  • Preparing to Launch (HD,  3:39) –  This one explores the fact that this was the first major film to not only showcase Armstrong, but explore the historic journey of Apollo 11.
  • Giant Leap in One Small Step (HD, 4:31) – This one quickly focuses again on Armstrong, the hero he was and all the hard working peeps that got us to the moon and back.
  • Mission Gone Wrong (HD, 2:42) –  Here we get a quick look at dangerous stuntwork performed by Ryan Gosling reenacting a test piloting sequence and how he trained for it.
  • Putting You in the Seat (HD, 7:09) – Here we go behind the lens so to speak to dissect all the innovative technology used to bring the film to life within the camera.
  • Recreating the Moon Landing (HD, 6:01) –  This one is all about bringing the historic moon moment we’re all gathered here to witness to life via IMAX.
  • Shooting at NASA (HD, 3:11) –  In this extra we explore the authenticity infused into this film from shooting in actual NASA locations.
  • Astronaut Training (HD, 4:02) – This one chronicles a three day bootcamp the actors attended to prepare for filming.
  • Audio Commentary –  This audio commentary track features director Damien Chazelle, screenwriter Josh Singer and the movie’s editor Tim Cross.   This one does well exploring the production and behind the scenes of bringing key events to life.  It’s a MUST-watch/listen for fans of the film.

First Man


First Man finished high on a lot of Top 10 lists last year including mine as seen here.  While it may not have reference audio and video the emotional stakes and gravity of it all makes this 4K ultra HD Blu-ray release soar above the other competing choices. Couple that with recreating Armstrong’s historic landing on the moon in IMAX and you have a winner-winner chicken dinner on your hands here.  You know what to do!  This is a MUST-ADD to your 4K home media collection.  Pre-order it today!


DISCLAIMER: This 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray review was judged and graded using the following 4K certified Ultra HD Premium television set found here and player here.  The above screenshots are not taken from the actual 4K product.  Make sure to check out all our 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray reviews archived here.


First Man

Blasts Off


4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

January 22nd




First Man 4K Cover


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

4 Responses to “First Man (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    Good review!

  2. Brian White

    Boom! Thanks Aaron!!!

  3. Miguel Hernandez

    Good review!

  4. Go Ear

    Good review!