Sean Penn stars in Beau Willimon’s new series about the first mission to Mars
The opening scene of The First may be deceiving: you’ve been prepared to a space saga about the exploration of Mars, but you soon realize that you’re about to watch a human journey set mostly on earth. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be less interesting.
The First is an 8-episode tv series, produced by Westward, which made its debut on Hulu (U.S.) and Channel 4 (UK)on September 14, 2018. The show premieres in 30 italian theaters on December 18 and i twill arrive the internet video service TIMVISION the following day.
Written by american playwright and screenwriter Beau Willimon (House of Cards), the story is set in 2030 and follows the preparation of a team of astronauts, lead by Captain Tom Hagerty, on their first mission to Mars.
The british-american drama stars the Academy Award winner Sean Penn (Milk, Mystic River) and the actress Natascha McElhone (Designated Survivor, The Truman Show) in the main roles: Penn plays Hagerty, while McElhone portrays Laz Ingram, the CEO of commercial launch provider VISTA.
The First has undeniable strong points (elegant directing, wonderful cinematography and a soundtrack that will give you thrills), but the first two episodes also give a hint about the evolution of the story: the show seems to be focused on the human conflicts rather than on the expedition itself. Scene after scene, we learn a little more about the Hagerty family, with Tom splitting his time between his job and a wife and a daughter struggling with depression. Spiritual battles are the perfect terrain for Penn’s acting, which is always extraordinary. McElhone persuasivly plays his boss/opponent, but both actors are joined by a great cast: LisaGay Hamilton, Oded Fehr, James Ransone, Hanna Ware, Anna Jacoby-Heron, Keiko Agena and Rey Lucas.
Provided that you don’t expect something like Interstellar, you’ll find The First a compelling and touching human drama, which feels like something new: space exploration is a very current topic and Willimon’s effort in creating the world behind it is admirable.