Spaceman - Review - Adam Sandler forays into sci fi and gets lost in space...

12 March 2024
"Spaceman," directed by Johan Renck, is a Netflix film that showcases Adam Sandler in a role that deviates significantly from his comedic persona, embodying an emotionally troubled Czech astronaut, Jakub Procházka.

Released on Netflix, the film also stars Carey Mulligan as Jakub's estranged wife, Lenka, and features a voice performance by Paul Dano as Hanuš, an alien entity realised by Jakub as a huge spider. 

"Spaceman" is drawn from Jaroslav Kalfař’s 2017 novel "Spaceman of Bohemia," with Sandler taking the lead in bringing this poignant narrative to life. The film traces the solitary space mission of Jakub Procházka as he ventures to study a mysterious interstellar cloud, all the while grappling with personal turmoil stemming from his disintegrating marriage to Lenka. 

The arrival of Hanuš, an enigmatic alien with the ability to communicate telepathically, introduces a surreal dimension to Jakub's journey, probing deep into his psyche and the past memories that haunt him.

The narrative oscillates between the confines of space and the terrestrial echoes of Jakub's past life, weaving a complex tapestry of human emotion and existential contemplation.

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"Fear not, Skinny Human"

At its core, "Spaceman" is an exploration of isolation, discovery, and the intricacies of the human condition. The film uses the vast, uncharted expanse of space as a metaphor for the internal void within Jakub, accentuating themes of emotional estrangement and self-discovery. The interactions with Hanuš serve as a catalyst for Jakub to confront his life's decisions, fostering a narrative rich in introspection and philosophical musings on existence.

However, the thematic delivery struggles at times to maintain engagement, with the film's more abstract ideas feeling somewhat inaccessible.

Adam Sandler's portrayal of Jakub offers a departure from his typical roles, presenting a character whose depth of alienation and despair is pivotal to the film's emotional landscape.

While Sandler's performance could critiqued for lacking nuance, the role underscores his versatility as an actor, challenging audiences' perceptions of his capabilities. Carey Mulligan and Paul Dano contribute significantly, with Mulligan's portrayal of Lenka adding a tangible sense of loss and longing that complements the film's overarching themes. Dano's vocal performance as Hanuš enriches the narrative, providing layers of complexity to the film's exploration of self and otherness.

The visual execution of "Spaceman," led by Renck's directorial vision, marries the film's thematic elements with its aesthetic presentation. The cinematography adeptly captures the stark, isolating atmosphere of space, while the use of visual effects in depicting otherworldly phenomena and Hanuš's alien form enhances the film's surreal quality. However, the ambition of its visual narrative sometimes overshadows its coherence, leaving viewers longing for a more integrated stylistic approach.

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The film's soundtrack, composed by Max Richter, and its sound design play instrumental roles in immersing the audience in Jakub's interstellar and introspective journey. The auditory elements complement the film's mood shifts effectively, crafting an enveloping experience that transcends the visual, particularly in scenes that depict the vastness and mystery of space.

Johan Renck's direction attempts to navigate the intricate narrative and thematic ambitions of "Spaceman," aiming for a Tarkovsky-esque depth of vision. However, the film's pacing suffers from inconsistencies, with moments of profound impact often followed by segments that seem to languish. This uneven pacing detracts from the narrative's potential to fully engage the viewer throughout its entirety.

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"Spaceman" is a film that, despite its flaws, offers a compelling examination of loneliness, identity, and redemption. While not all aspects of the film resonate equally, its ambition and the performances it houses merit attention. For audiences inclined towards introspective science fiction and those interested in witnessing Adam Sandler in a dramatic light, "Spaceman" presents a unique viewing experience.

"Spaceman" stands as a testament to the experimental nature of contemporary cinema and Adam Sandler's evolving career as an actor of genuine quality (refer Uncut Gems). While it navigates through a labyrinth of existential queries and emotional landscapes, its true achievement lies in its capacity to challenge and expand the viewer's perceptions. 

The film’s legacy, much like the journey of its protagonist, might be one of solitary contemplation, but it undeniably adds a significant layer to the cinematic exploration of the human spirit in the vastness of space.

I think this film sits nicely as an exploration of the human bond and consciousness, it's a soft sci fi film in many ways, and space isolation has been done a million times over. For me as a watcher, my greatest takeaway was the enjoyment of the development of Jakub as he realised whom he truly loved, not himself (!) but the mother of his child. 

Shame he had to travel a million miles to realise this!


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About the author Jimmy Jangles

My name is Jimmy Jangles, the founder of The Astromech. I have always been fascinated by the world of science fiction, especially the Star Wars universe, and I created this website to share my love for it with fellow fans.

At The Astromech, you can expect to find a variety of articles, reviews, and analysis related to science fiction, including books, movies, TV, and games.
From exploring the latest news and theories to discussing the classics, I aim to provide entertaining and informative content for all fans of the genre.

Whether you are a die-hard Star Trek fan or simply curious about the world of science fiction, The Astromech has something for everyone. So, sit back, relax, and join me on this journey through the stars!
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