I just watched the sci-fi movie that's No. 1 on Netflix — should you stream it or skip it?

Adam Sandler as Jakub in "Spaceman"
(Image credit: Courtesy of Netflix)

"Spaceman" was one of the biggest movies new on Netflix last week. After a slow burn over the weekend, it's now holding the top spot in the Netflix top 10.

I've been eagerly anticipating this science fiction movie starring Adam Sandler as a lonely astronaut and Paul Dano as Hanuš, the alien spider he meets in the great unknown. It made its debut at the Berlinale Film Festival back in February and despite some mixed reviews, it seems audiences are eagerly giving it a chance. So I decided to watch it as well.

After watching it, I definitely have some thoughts, including whether or not you should watch this Netflix movie. So let's dive into what "Spaceman" is all about and whether you should stream or skip it on Netflix this week.

What is 'Spaceman' about?  

This movie is based on the 2017 novel "Spaceman of Bohemia." Adam Sandler stars as Commander Jakub Procházka, a cosmonaut from the Czech Republic who is on a mission at the edge of our solar system to explore a mysterious ancient cloud of dust. While in the vast emptiness of space, Jakub meets Hanuš, an extraterrestrial spider (Paul Dano) who attempts to help Jakub through "his emotional distress"

Meanwhile, back on Earth, is the cause of Jakub's emotional distress. Jakub has left behind a pregnant wife, Lenka (Carey Mulligan), who appears to be ready to abandon Jakub before he returns home from his solo voyage.

If "Spaceman" delivered on that premise, it'd be a must-see movie. However, it tries to be more than that premise, and that choice doesn't always work.

An image indicating spoilers are ahead.

(Image credit: Future)

Spoiler alert: mild spoilers for "Spaceman" beyond this point.

'Spaceman' review — this movie is lost in space 

Critical reviews for this movie on Rotten Tomatoes aren't great. The critical consensus is that movie has themes worth exploring and the cast is talented. But "it [the movie] fails to consistently engage with its most interesting ideas."

After having watched "Spaceman," I'd have to say this assessment is spot on. There are some interesting things worth exploring, and the budding relationship between Jakub and Hanuš is interesting. The movie also hits its strongest point when those two explore the trauma of Jakub's past, particularly his past with Lenka.

But that relationship is just one of several moving pieces at odds with each other in this movie. There's a satire on the capitalism of space travel that's attempted and forgotten throughout the movie. Showing Mulligan's Lenka back on Earth in the present rather than through flashbacks constantly interrupts the movie. And there's a weird plot element about South Korean chasing Jakub and the Czech Republic for the honor of exploring the mystic cloud first that makes absolutely no sense to be included in the movie. My only guess is that it made sense when it was in the book.

Should you stream 'Spaceman' on Netflix?

Adam Sandler as Jakub in Spaceman

(Image credit: Larry Horricks/Netflix)

This movie is flawed, but not without merit. The second half of the movie is much more intriguing and cohesive than the first half, and the time spent exploring Jakub and Hanuš's new relationship and the trauma of Jakub and Lenka's old relationship is emotionally engaging and compelling to watch. The final act of the movie ties this all together in a way that genuinely keeps your attention and works, even if it's a bit strange at times.

Unfortunately, getting to the point where this movie starts to pay off is a 55-minute slog. I almost fell asleep during the first half of the movie while it figured out what it wanted to be. And that was valuable time lost because it prevented us from exploring the themes that did work in appropriate detail.

Ultimately, you should skip "Spaceman." Sometimes, flawed movies are worth the payoff, but this isn't one of those flawed movies. This is a shame because it's so clear that the potential was there for this Netflix movie.

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Malcolm McMillan
Senior Streaming Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a senior writer for Tom's Guide, covering all the latest in streaming TV shows and movies. That means news, analysis, recommendations, reviews and more for just about anything you can watch, including sports! If it can be seen on a screen, he can write about it. Previously, Malcolm had been a staff writer for Tom's Guide for over a year, with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), A/V tech and VR headsets.

Before writing for Tom's Guide, Malcolm worked as a fantasy football analyst writing for several sites and also had a brief stint working for Microsoft selling laptops, Xbox products and even the ill-fated Windows phone. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.