In theaters everywhere, The Space Between Us is a teenage melodrama that is so poorly structured (from the acting choices down to the ill-conceived narrative) that the film ultimately implodes leaving a jumbled mess.
The film centers around the birth of Gardner Eliot (Asa Butterfield). Gardner was the very first baby born on Mars, and his mother (the commander of the first expedition to the red planet) died in childbirth. Rather that developing a strategy to bring the child safely back to earth, Genesis Space Technologies (the company who built the spaceship) decided the best course of action would be to leave the child to live on the Mars colony rather than bring them home.
Even though CEO Nathaniel Shepard (Gary Oldman) feels that this is the best solution for everyone, Gardener eventually develops feelings of loneliness. He seeks out ways to interact with other teenagers and manages to set up a video chat with a girl named Tulsa (Brit Robertson) back on Earth.
Of course, now this get’s his curiosity up, and he wants to go to Earth so that he can experience everything that planet has to offer. He manages to convince Shepard that this wouldn’t be a terrible idea and he heads home. When he lands, he escapes and heads off to locate Tulsa (Gee shocker). So then the film pivots from a movie with science fiction roots to one of sappy melodrama. All that Gardner wants to do is experience the planet, be with Tulsa, and find Gardner’s father. However, it’s a race against the clock as Gardner’s body was affected by the lack of gravity on Mars and being on Earth could kill him. (Lord)
Gary Oldman’s performance is nothing more than just a terrible attempt at impersonating Sir Richard Branson. Oldman’s impression turned what was an important character in the film into a joke. He is the reason why this company is moving forward with this Mars colonization, and all I could focus on was just how terrible his impression was. His character is meant to be the backbone of a movie that ultimately was spineless.
Asa Butterfield portrayal of Gardner was as rudimentary as they come. His performance was your run of the mill “paint by numbers” portrayal that was neither great or awful. Gardner had no emotion when he left Mars or even when he arrived on Earth. His scenes with Britt Robertson were forced and lacked any emotional element. Nothing about Gardener came off as authentic and only left me wondering how much time was left till we got to the end credits.
The character of Tulsa is this free spirit who wants to see the world and doesn’t adhere societal rules. Britt Robertson portrayed her as the typical cookie cutter female companion that we’ve seen in every teenage melodrama. Her performance had the same amount of gravitas as Sofia Black D’Elia in Project Almanac.
Writing And Direction
Allan Loeb and Stuart Schill’s narrative is lifeless. What’s befuddling is that the story’s core concept is in fact very original, but they still manage to suck the life out it. The movie they should have done was one about how Gardener handles growing up on Mars but longs to find his father. What we got was a bewildering mess that focuses on Gardner and Tulsa.
If you had every intention of making that film, then perhaps they should have rewritten a significant amount of the script instead of jamming in scenes on top of what was already there. When Gardner was on Mars or talking to Kendra, the film wasn’t bad. It was when you had these scenes of Gardner awkwardly confessing his love to Tulsa seconds after they are in the car that brought the movie to a screeching halt.
The writers should have never forced these scenes into the already established narrative. By adding these scenes, the transitions become extremely jarring. One minute we are watching Shepard urges his team to work faster to find Gardner because he’s “running out of time” and then we transition to Tulsa and Gardner in a sleeping bag together under the stars. Huh? Then we transition to Shepard tells someone in an airplane hangar that he “knows” where they are headed, and then we see the “love birds” being showered with confetti (in slow motion) after leaving the house of a priest on an Indian reservation. Did I miss something? Did they get married in the film?
Director Peter Chelsom’s shot selection was uninspired and distracted from the piece. The Space Between Us is meant to be a story about a boy from Mars and his interaction with a planet he doesn’t understand. This type of story would require a fair share of two shots (shots focusing on two characters interacting with each other), but instead, we were treated to a vast number of Dolly and Aerial Shots. Why? To focus on the “chase” that’s occurring? I was unaware that this was an action film.
The Space Between Us has had its release date pushed back two times, and it was easy to see why. Everything about this movie is so poorly structured that the film collapses onto itself leaving just a mess. STX Entertainment would have better off after the second delay just releasing the film straight to DVD and Video on Demand. There is no reason that anyone should give this film the time of day and if you do be prepared for a galactic disappointment.