Film Review: “Spaceman”


  • Starring: Adam Sandler, Carey Mulligan
  • Directed by: Johan Renck
  • Rating: R
  • Running Time: 1 hr 47 mins
  • Netflix


It has been a long time since his days starring in such notable comedies as “The Waterboy,” “Billy Madison,” and “Happy Gillmore.” However, what has always been the real strength of Adam Sandler’s talents is his ability to do drama. Whether it was in “Punch-Drunk Love” or “Reign Over Me” or “Uncut Gems,” Sandler has demonstrated a terrific ability to delve into all the nooks and crannies of a character without having to be silly. His dramatic brilliance is able to shine once more in the new, slow-paced and somewhat dull sci-fi film “Spaceman.”


A mysterious pink cloud, named Chopra, has entered our solar system just beyond Jupiter. Visible in the day and nighttime sky from Earth, a solo space mission has been organized by the Czech government to gather particles from Chopra and return them back to Earth for study. One step ahead of a South Korean ship sent to do the same thing, Czech astronaut Jakub Prochazka (Sandler) is six months into his mission and his sense of loneliness threatens to overwhelm him. What makes matters worse is that his pregnant wife, Lenka (Carey Mulligan) has decided to divorce him just as he is on the precipice of the greatest achievement in human space exploration. Concerned that her deep space “Dear John” letter to Jakub will shatter what’s left of his mental stability, flight commander, Commissioner Tuma (Isabella Rossellini) decides to withhold the message in the hopes she can convince Lenka to change her mind.


Meanwhile, Jakub struggles to keep his sanity as he gets closer to Chopra without any word from his wife. It is at his most vulnerable that he encounters a spider-like, telepathic alien onboard his ship that he eventually calls Hanus (voiced by Paul Dano, “The Dark Knight”). Intrigued by this lonely human, Hanus begins to poke and prod at Jakub’s memories to figure him out. This ranges from examining the consequences of Jakub’s father being murdered because he had been an informant for the Communist government of Czechoslovakia to why Jakub pushed away Lenka.


To say that “Spaceman” is slow would be an understatement and it may serve to drive away some viewers’ interest after just a few minutes into the film. The actual science the film appears a little iffy, especially considering why in the world would such a long mission be attempted with just one astronaut. And unfortunately, the supposed climax of reaching Chopra is more like a whimper than a bang.


Another detriment to the film is the monotone voice work by Dano as Hanus. It’s like listening to HAL 9000, but not as sinister. There is a sense of mystery about Hanus that provides a little intrigue because it is seemingly impossible for the creature to have gotten on the spaceship. As for Sandler, he exhibits sheer brilliance as he pulls us into his character’s self-imposed loathing and despair. However, while he does not share a lot of scenes with Mulligan, their shared chemistry is a little flat.


Overall, “Spaceman” has some pretty visual effects and a couple of extraordinarily good emotional moments that will pull at the heart strings. Yet, it’s still not enough to make the film more than something average.


“Damsel” receives ★1/2  out of five.

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