Spaceman review: "Adam Sandler excels as a lonely astronaut in Netflix sci-fi drama"

(Image: © Netflix)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

A soul-searching Adam Sandler excels in a sci-fi drama that’s both way-out and weighty.

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Loneliness is perhaps not the most cinematic of emotions. But there’s undeniable big-screen magic at work in Johan Renck’s (Chernobyl) film, which casts Adam Sandler as "The loneliest man who has ever lived." That’s no wild claim: Sandler plays astronaut Jakub who, nine months into a mission to investigate a mysterious cloud by Jupiter, is the furthest from human contact that anyone has ever been. 

Jakub is eager to patch things up with his pregnant wife Lenka (Carey Mulligan) back on Earth. But this gorgeous existential sci-fi has more than space travel and despair on its mind. Before long, our hero finds himself forging a connection with a giant extraterrestrial spider with an abundance of emotional intelligence and a (rather creepy) little human mouth, from which springs the voice of Paul Dano.

Yes, it sounds like the premise for a broad comedy, and Spaceman does deliver the occasional laugh. But this is an impactful and at times profound film, with a hauntingly lovely turn from Sandler. As ridiculous as it sounds, watching the actor chat to a space arachnid conjures an emotional depth that evokes Tarkovsky. 

From the spider’s teeth to a host of glowing celestial bodies to Sandler’s ship’s zero-gravity toilet, Spaceman is flush with careful detail. It’s also a film filled with the unexpected, one that doesn’t follow a familiar narrative structure, provide neat answers or make the viewer feel any less alone in this vast, cold universe. But for those open to the wonderfully weird, Spaceman offers up deep truths, terrific performances and an alien gob that truly transfixes. 

Spaceman is in US theaters on February 23, UK cinemas on February 24 and on Netflix from March 1. 

For more, here's our guide to the best sci-fi movies of all time.

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Freelance Writer

Leila Latif is a freelance journalist, broadcaster, film critic, and self-described "haver of hot takes". She used that power (and years of experience) to cover TV and film for a wide variety of outlets such as GamesRadar+, Total Film, Little White Lies, The A.V. Club, SFX, BBC Culture, and many more.