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Sean Penn’s ‘The First’ never achieves liftoff

The romance surrounding space travel gets a workout and then some in “The First,” a Hulu series that — despite the combination of Sean Penn and “House of Cards” producer Beau Willimon — never comes close to achieving liftoff. Sluggishly paced and too familiar in its character beats, it’s the sort of prestige project that surely looked good on paper but fizzles once exposed to air.

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