<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Peter Chelsom. Starring Asa Butterfield, Gary Oldman, Carla Gugino, Britt Robertson, BD Wong
Running time: 2 hours
The Space Between Us has some touching moments but is mostly irritating and nonsensical.
Putting a group of people on Mars to live for a few years doesn’t really sound like science fiction anymore. We’ve got a lot of strange and fantastical things happening in the real world nowadays to believe that we can’t do something as simple as having a Martian colony. And anyway, since most of the film is on Earth, the whole Mars thing kinda never has any bearing on the proceedings.
Gardner Elliot (Asa Butterfield) is born on Mars, and I have no idea how the planners of this mission never accounted for a baby happening in a mixed group of astronauts; so why they freak out about it is unclear. The mother dies and the baby is an orphan who can’t go back to Earth since his bones are accustomed to Mars’s gravity. He grows up there, makes a chat buddy on Earth called Tulsa (Britt Robertson) and wants to go back.
But the architect of this mission, Nathaniel Shepherd (Gary Oldman), doesn’t want him to come back since it would affect his health. Everyone else ignores him, and well they should, since he seems a bit off and is always screaming.
A love affair between Mars boy and Earth girl happens with a chase ensuing to save Gardner from the ill effects of Earth on his enlarged heart. All very sketchy stuff as initially he seems perfectly fine. Why Gary Oldman is so damn horrible in the film I don’t know, maybe he thought that bellowing throughout the movie would make a bigger impact. It does not.
There are some lovely romantic songs in The Space Between Us and a nice speech that Tulsa gives about people keeping their ‘shields and guards up’ and not saying what they’re genuinely feeling because they’re afraid they’ll end up being happy and in love. The plot follows a very formulaic pace leaving you more and more disinterested in the outcome.
And having two 16 year olds make out in a sleeping bag really isn’t doing much to prevent teen pregnancy in America!
The Space Between Us lacks the charm, poignancy, heart and soul of a fish-out-of-water movie that could have been endearing instead of being an instrument for product placements: Mars bar, Volvo self-driving car, BMW electric car etc.
PS: During the film (supposedly set in 2018) everyone is using transparent glass laptops but by the end you see them using regular laptops and keyboards. Quite strange.