I love me a good sci-fi flick, but this one seems a little too “young-adult” for my tastes, if that makes any sense. So… a woman gives birth to her son in space as they’re on their way to colonize Mars. He turns into a teenager and is unable to go to Earth due to how he was raised there, but he still manages to keep himself connected to a teen girl on Earth, dreams of seeing her, and somehow hitches a ride to the big blue ball and so begins a road trip of discovering the world and what he’s been missing out on while the space program big-wigs try to recover him before he dies, since his heart can’t handle Earth’s gravity. Already I have problems with this. First of all, don’t we have tight rules about pregnant women going on airplanes? Wouldn’t stricter rules apply to a space voyage?! Second, based on the trailer, it sounds like the girl doesn’t know that the boy is from Mars. Why not? Was this “colonization of Mars” some kind of secret mission that’s lasted for fifteen-ish years? Actually, calling it, the pregnancy was hidden away from the media due to possible backlash, or the mom begged her higher-ups to just go with her pregnancy despite the irresponsibility. Yeah, I’m betting this won’t be a very good movie, but for what it might be, it could be cute and charming enough. We’ll see.
Let’s take a look at the most redeeming quality about the flick, the cast. Starring is Asa Butterfield. You’ve seen him in such films as MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN (2016), ENDER’S GAME (2013), and HUGO (2011). Honestly, I think this young man is a fine actor, but has been given a pretty checkered career in showcasing his talent. MISS PEREGRINE wasn’t a very good movie, particularly for him, but I hold firm that ENDER’S GAME is underrated. I’m thinking he’ll be fine for the most part here. Next, we have Britt Robertson, whom you’ve seen in A DOG’S PURPOSE (2017), MR. CHURCH (2016), and TOMORROWLAND (2015). Again, I think this girl is fantastic and was one of the best elements of TOMORROWLAND, despite the movie not being great. While I haven’t seen everything she’s done, she’s quickly becoming one of my favorite young talents and I can’t wait to see her bring her charm to this role. I might even expect her to steal the show. Next, we have Carla Gugino, whom you’ve seen in SAN ANDREAS (2015), SUCKER PUNCH (2011), and WATCHMEN (2009). Despite her being in some movies that have had mixed reactions from both critics and audiences, I like to say that Gugino is always a welcomed actress in anything. I think she’s a good actress, even when the movie itself isn’t good. I feel like I’ve said that about everyone so far. Patterns; life’s little brain-splinters to remind us to notice repetition. Finally, Gary Oldman. Um… need I say more? Gary freakin’ Oldman. CRIMINAL (2016), DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2014), the Dark Knight franchise, the list goes on. He’s one of the greatest actors of our time. He can chew the scenery or play subtle with the best of them. If you need a reason to enjoy anything in a movie, it’ll always be Oldman.
Now for behind the scenes. Directing is Peter Chelsom, known for HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS (2014), SHALL WE DANCE (2004), and SERENDIPITY (2001 – one of my favorite rom-coms, by the way). Penning the screenplay is Alan Loeb, known for COLLATERAL BEAUTY (2016), SO UNDERCOVER (2012), and 21 (2008). Composing the music is Andrew Lockington, known for INCARNATE (2016), SAN ANDREAS (2015), and ARGO (2012). Finally, the cinematographer is Barry Peterson, known for CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE (2016), SISTERS (2015), and ZOOLANDER (2001).
Overall, I think it’s not going to be a very good film, but for what it looks like it’s meant to be, a romance between teenagers, it looks harmless and cutsie enough. At the very least, I’m expecting some good acting.
This is my honest opinion of: THE SPACE BETWEEN US
Sixteen years ago, Nathaniel Shepherd (Gary Oldman) dreamed of colonizing Mars. Sending a team of the first astronauts to Mars, led by Sarah Elliot (Janet Montgomery), it’s not long before some complications crop up, namely Sarah discovering her pregnancy. By the time she reaches Mars, she’s ready to give birth and delivers a healthy boy named Gardner, but Sarah passes away. Back on Earth, Nathaniel demands that the birth be kept top secret and covered up, and disappears from NASA. Sixteen years later, Gardner (Asa Butterfield) is full of angst and desperately wants to see Earth for himself. Mostly because via the internet, he befriended an Earth girl named Tulsa (Britt Robertson), whom doesn’t know he was born on Mars, but rather in New York with some kind of disease. But after some hard convincing from Kendra Wyndham (Carla Gugino) to a resurfaced Nathaniel and Gardner goes through a surgery and training to help adapt to Earth’s gravity. While also looking to meet with Tulsa, he also wants to look for his father and tell him the truth of his mother’s passing and his birth.
While I don’t necessarily dislike the movie, I can’t deny that it’s not good.
You can guess some major plot devices from the trailer itself. That’s not a good sign if a lower-than-amateur writer, such as myself, can guess a movie’s motivation from its trailer that doesn’t even feature said motivation. But never mind that.
I felt like every act had it’s own set of special problems that could have easily been fixed… through editing. As in… not have that three second shot in there, kind of easy fix. Take the first act. There’s a scene that depicts Tulsa sitting at a piano. After hitting a few nice keys – I kid you not – a group of three or four male students spy on her from the classroom window and whistle at her. But if that was only barely manageable in how forced that was, it gets worse. She leaves, embarrassed, hops on a bike and casually rides away as those same male bullies chase after her in the same fashion as if they were chasing someone they were going to beat up. First of all, this tease of a subplot goes absolutely nowhere. It’s never even really addressed, even in that moment. So… the hell?
But it’s not just that. There’s a whole lot that this movie does that never measures up to anything, or isn’t properly explained. Like, why does Tulsa know how to fly a plane? When did she learn to figure that out? Also, maybe I’d need to talk to NASA about this, but a lot of the reasoning for why Gardner’s life had to be kept secret was because the general public would freak out and be mad at them. But… unless I missed some compelling dialog, why would the public care? I mean, okay, the astronauts acted irresponsibly and giving birth to a baby on ANOTHER PLANET might get a few red flags going, but… call me crazy, I think NASA would have had the female astronauts tested to prevent this kind of crap from happening. You know, LIKE I SAID ABOVE!!! I mean, I guess the premise is dead on arrival because there are real world safety measures, or you would need to go in with that level of suspension of disbelief, but… man, I guess if the movie wasn’t taking itself so seriously, I wouldn’t be taking it so seriously.
There’s also a bunch of twists and turns that you can see coming from a hundred miles away, and the ones that you don’t see coming are kind of contrived and the story ultimately doesn’t make those twists mean anything. Hell, even scenes that talk about important information sometimes leads to nowhere. There’s needlessly cruel and out-of-character moments, a whole lot of awkward writing and directing that made even Oldman a bad actor, logic occasionally takes a vacation both in terms of story and character elements, clichés here and there, it is a surprisingly messy film. And though I have no real problems with Butterfield, I think he can be a good actor when given the right material and director, but these last couple films he’s been in have not been kind to him. He’s never awful, but he’s always written to be either bland or awkward. Here isn’t different. He tries to make it work, and I can’t always deny the charm he tries to put into it, but it doesn’t always work in his favor, which is sad.
But is it all bad? Um… no, actually.
Once more, I think Robertson brings her A-game. In every movie I’ve seen her in, she always has this endearing charm and energy about her that makes her so likable, even when the lines she’s reading aren’t that good. Plus… she can sing? Hmm… well, I guess we know the movie she should be shooting for in the future. Also, I really like Gugino. Again, ever since WATCHMEN, I think this woman can act. Granted, she always seems to play the motherly type, but hey, if people can love Jason Statham’s one note career, I can love her’s. At least Gugino’s characters have something that set each other apart. And once again, I can kind of relate to this story: boy loves a girl that’s crazy far away and does everything in his power to make sure he can see her. Kind of a sucker for that.
As a whole, it’s still not a very good movie. It’s sure not the worst, this movie had some seriously dumb moments. Plus, some serious brownie points lost for making Oldman a bad actor. You know something done screwed up if that ever happens, whether by bad writing, bad directing, or both, doesn’t matter. Very little worked. What did work saves it from being bad, as well as my personal connection to it, but I can’t say I’d recommend it to anyone. I think the young adult crowd will decide for itself if it’s worth seeing, but I say skip for the adults.
My honest rating for THE SPACE BETWEEN US: 3/5