The Spaceman. What is the new Netflix movie about and is it worth watching?

The plot of the Spaceman movie takes place on a spaceship flying to explore a mysterious cloud beyond Jupiter’s orbit. Suddenly, a representative of an extraterrestrial civilization appears on board. It seems like a good plot for a solid science fiction story. However, in reality, things are far from being so good, and we can even explain why.

Головну роль у фільмі «Космонавт» виконує Адам Сендлер
Adam Sandler plays the main role in the Spaceman movie

What is the Spaceman about?

The Spaceman is a new science fiction film based on the novel Spaceman of Bohemia by Czech writer Jaroslav Kalfar. It premiered at the Berlin Film Festival and was released on Netflix on March 1.

Actually, the film was filmed for Netflix. It features Hollywood actors. In particular, Adam Sandler plays the main role. But in all other respects, including the director, it is a Czech movie. This is not surprising, because, as the title of the source novel suggests, one of its main themes is European astronautics.

And this is really great, because the topic of space flights by representatives of EU countries does not appear on movie screens very often. What makes it even more positive is the fact that it is about the Czech spacecraft Jan Hus-1, which is flying to explore a mysterious nebula that suddenly appeared beyond Jupiter’s orbit — a direct challenge to one arrogant space power that believes that Slavs cannot launch any spacecraft without the blessing of the Kremlin’s master.

It’s also worth noting that the ship, which is the scene of the main events, is shown quite realistically from the inside. The astronaut Jakub Prochazka actually flies around it, not walks, there is a variety of equipment around it that is necessary to do simple things like go to the toilet, and the authors did not forget about the airlocks.

Космічний корабель у фільмі показаний достатньо реалістично
The spaceship in the movie is shown quite realistically

Scientific notes on the movie

Unfortunately, this is where the movie’s undoubted advantages end and the problems begin. The first thing that catches your eye is that Prokhazka flies from Earth to Jupiter in 180 days. With the available chemical engines, this is impossible. To reach too high speeds, you have to first accelerate and then slow down, and all this requires an incredible amount of fuel.

The movie doesn’t talk about all this, but in principle, there is a way to achieve this. To do this, Jan Hus-1 only needs to use ion or plasma engines for acceleration and deceleration. They have a much higher rate of gas leakage and consume fuel much more economically.

Such engines have been developed for decades, but so far none of them have been used to accelerate a ship with a crew. Therefore, we can safely assume that the movie is set in the not too distant future.

Even more questions are raised by the way Prokhazka communicates with Earth. The exchange of lines is shown as instantaneous. But this cannot be the case with radio communication. Because electromagnetic waves take at least 40 minutes to travel from Earth to Jupiter. This fact, for example, was once perfectly demonstrated in Stanley Kubrick’s classic movie A Space Odyssey 2001.

The creators of the Spaceman, by the way, explain all this, albeit in just two words, so only an expert in modern physics who watches the movie very carefully can understand it. The network used by all the characters in the movie works on the principle of quantum entanglement. It means that if two elementary particles born from the same source are in a state of quantum uncertainty, then detecting the state of one of them instantly leads to detecting the state of the other. And this happens at any distance and at a speed exceeding the light speed.

Система зв'язку на основі квантової заплутаності у фільмі
Communication system based on quantum entanglement in film

The existence of quantum entanglement has been proven experimentally. And there are even ideas to use it to create FTL communication. However, no one can say whether this is possible at all and what properties it will have. However, everything we know about this mysterious phenomenon indicates that it is almost impossible to cause interference or completely block the signal of a communication system based on it. And this is the basis for a large part of the movie’s plot.

However, all of this is trivial compared to the main question to the film: why does Prokhazka fly to investigate an unknown phenomenon alone? In fact, if something strange appeared on the outskirts of the solar system, an automatic probe would be sent to it first. And the point here is not only that this unknown could kill an astronaut. It’s just that in this case, there is no need to create a space on the spacecraft where a person could exist for months and satisfy all their physiological needs.

And this is not a minor issue at all, because we are talking about hundreds of kilograms or even tons of cargo, which requires additional fuel to accelerate and brake. And all of them are completely unnecessary to answer the question of what it is that came to us — just to keep the astronaut’s body alive inside. In addition, an unmanned probe can be developed and manufactured much faster.

But if there is a need to launch live people into the unknown “Chopra cloud,” why not send two or three? They would not significantly increase the weight of Jan Hus-1. And additional crew members are exactly what allows not only to get rid of the psychological burden, but also to simply avoid many mistakes or to support each other in case of an emergency.

Psychology for an alien spider

Of course, all of this is done to create a situation where Jakub Prochazka finds himself alone in Jupiter’s orbit, and with his wife on Earth, who decided to break up with him in the last months of her pregnancy.

The question immediately arises: why did all of this come as a surprise to the Mission Control Center staff? Had no one ever taken an interest in the psychological state of the most important representative of humanity? After all, anticipating such situations is a standard practice for all organizations where people work in extreme conditions! Psychologists should have determined Lenka Prokhazka’s condition in advance and prevented her from jeopardizing the mission.

And again even if we assume that all this was necessary for the alien spider Hanush, who was studying humanity and decided to communicate with Prokhazka, to appear in the spaceship of the “loneliest man,” — further events do not justify this.

First of all, the alien spider appears in the cockpit in a strange way. How it gets through the hull of the spacecraft is never explained throughout the movie. Perhaps it is really teleporting, but a number of scenes hint quite transparently that this creature is a manifestation of the astronaut’s overstressed psyche, or at least something intangible. So it’s quite possible that for the rest of the film we’re watching Prokhazka disconnect from the Earth himself in order to communicate with his own hallucinations.

Інопланетний павук на борту космічного корабля
An alien spider on board a spaceship

Secondly, the astronaut reacts to an unexpected encounter with an alien creature in an extremely strange way. He doesn’t report the spider to Earth, doesn’t try to hit it with heavy objects, but is relatively calm about being in the same space with it as long as it doesn’t approach.

That is, for some reason Prokhazka is not afraid of a truly giant spider that appeared from nowhere. It seems that he is ready to discuss “some stuff” with it from the very beginning… and instead of fearing a possibility his own brain is eaten up by the creature, the astronaut is just wondering if the monster understands human language.

At the same time, the astronaut tries to quietly destroy the spider using a rather strange disinfection system. It is strange because on a spacecraft, instead of using some special gas in case of a very emergency, it is much easier to depressurize the compartment. In the Constellation series, which is airing right now, such a moment is shown quite realistically. By the way, the Flight Control Center has not commented on this strange behavior.

Theoretically, this is where the most interesting part should have started, because two loners from different civilizations got together to talk about psychology and philosophy. But in reality, they don’t really talk about anything that interesting. The whole philosophy boils down to the not at all original idea that the universe is beautiful, but too big, and intelligent beings are small, and therefore they feel lonely in it.
Lenka. Jakub’s wife

Hanush and Prochazka seem to delve much deeper into psychology, but it turns out that everything is quite banal there as well. Jakub is an egoist with childhood traumas who, nevertheless, cannot live without his wife. By the way, it remains quite unclear what exactly the protagonist learned in the process of communicating with the spider and what made hem repent, because at the most crucial moment he neglects his extremely important mission and his own unborn child, who risks being left without a father, and just jumps into the hatch after his imaginary interlocutor. This is an extremely selfish act indeed.

The Chopra Nebula

All these events take place against the backdrop of one huge flaw that deserves to be analyzed separately. We are talking about the Chopra Nebula, where everything begins and where everything ends. In fact, the movie does not explain how and where it came from.

The point is that it must be huge. For people from Earth to be able to observe the object with the naked eye beyond Jupiter’s orbit, it must stretch for billions of kilometers, i.e., occupy a significant amount of space beyond the largest planet in the solar system.

If an object of this size had met the Sun in the “usual” way, humanity would have known about its existence tens or even hundreds of years before its “arrival”: the relative speed of the object would not have been very high, and it would have been really, really visible to astronomers.

Гануш та Прохазка у туманності Чопра
Ganush and Prokhazka in the Chopra Nebula

We can only assume that this cloud was simply teleported here — just like Ganush got aboard the Jan Hus-1. But even in this case, a lot of questions arise. If this is indeed a nebula, consisting of a huge number of small particles, why has it been hanging around Jupiter’s orbit for four years? Why wasn’t it gravitated to the Sun or at least to the giant planets?

When Ganush starts talking about the fact that Chopra is actually the remnants of the matter left over from the Big Bang, things get even worse. After all, according to all physical concepts, no objects of this kind were formed then — mostly hydrogen and a little helium. Dark matter could still have been formed, but it simply cannot behave as shown in the film, in particular, emit or absorb light.

However, the worst part of the film is not the apparently anomalous cloud of unexplained origin, but the way the people in the film react to it. They are faced with the greatest mystery in the universe, and they treat its study as a formality, like delivering groceries to the supermarket.

Theoretically, the whole expedition is designed to understand what it is that has been hanging around for four years, but throughout the film, the only opinion on this matter is expressed by an imaginary spider in Prokhazka’s head. So the film doesn’t just ignore science, it quite deliberately downplays its importance.

Overall, the film is not very successful. It is emotionally uncomfortable and at the same time very boring. It is not about space at all, and there is simply no point in watching it to learn something about the world around us. And any attempts to reveal some deep treasures of human inner world are a failure as well.