Adam Sandler’s ‘Spaceman’ Has an Identity Crisis, Like Many Space Movies – The New York Times

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With the release of Adam Sandler’s odd, middling and expensive new Netflix film, a look at space movie misfires of the past and how history repeats itself.

Not long into “Spaceman,” Adam Sandler’s new somber sci-fi space movie on Netflix, it becomes quite clear that it’s struggling to channel something greater, something better, something already respected.
Sandler’s character, a Czech cosmonaut named Jakub, has spent many months alone in a ship investigating a mysterious purple cloud — alone except for an alien arachnid called Hanus (voiced by Paul Dano). Hanus speaks to Jakub — about fear, guilt, pain and the origins of the universe — in a soothing yet stilted tone, evoking the voice of HAL 9000, the conflicted A.I. entity in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” from 1968.
The central themes in “Spaceman,” loneliness and disconnection, are fundamental in many cerebral space movies including “2001,” but perhaps more so in Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1972 Soviet space drama, “Solaris,” about a small crew of scientists who come mentally undone.
“Spaceman” also has some “Gravity,” some “Interstellar,” some “First Man,” some “Ad Astra,” the New York Times film critic Alissa Wilkinson wrote in her review.
Many middling sci-fi space movies have faced such fates: measured not by what they are but by what they wished they were. Often these films have the potential to be brilliant. “Spaceman” was directed by Johan Renck, who won two Emmys in 2019 for his work on the HBO mini-series “Chernobyl”; Sandler, while a comedian, has soared in complex dramatic roles, notably in “Uncut Gems” and “Punch-Drunk Love”; Jakub’s wife is played by Carey Mulligan, who is up for a best actress Oscar this month for “Maestro.”
What is toughest to forgive, though, is that “Spaceman” commits the biggest movie no-no of all: It’s boring. “It is not fun-bad,” Wilkinson writes. “It is maudlin-bad, belabored-bad and also pretty boring-bad.”
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