Movie review: ‘Space Between Us’ is the kind of sappy love story for Valentine’s Day
–If you’re a frequent moviegoer, you’ve doubtless seen the trailer for “The Space Between Us.” It’s the story of a boy born on Mars who longs to be on Earth, and the Earth girl he pines for.
The trailer has been making the rounds for a while. It was originally slated for a summer 2016 release, then the film got bumped to fall 2016 and finally to February 3, 2017. It hasn’t gotten great reviews and it didn’t draw big crowds last weekend.
But I’d contend it’s the ideal kind of film for this time of year. It’s not overly complicated, but it has an innocent sweetness to it that makes it the perfect kind of date movie. And, after all, ‘tis the season for movie dates. This film is the anti-“Fifty Shades Darker,” and offers a good alternative to those looking for a breezy love story this time of year.
The film centers on the first mission of astronauts set to live life on Mars. It’s set in the near future where a genius billionaire, Nathaniel Shepherd (Gary Oldman), has dreamed of colonizing Mars. Now his company has built East Texas, a settlement that can be the first of many to expand the reach of humanity.
The leader of this mission is Sarah Elliot (Janet Montgomery). Along the way, she discovers she’s pregnant and will be forced to give birth on Mars. She does, but it doesn’t go as planned. Sarah dies, leaving young Gardner orphaned on another planet.
Because of his unique birth situation, Nathaniel decides to keep Gardner’s existence a secret. And because he was born on Mars and has only known life there or in space, his body is ill-equipped for Earth’s gravity and atmosphere.
Fast forward 16 years and Gardner (Asa Butterfield) is an adept problem-solver, having been raised by scientists. His best friend is a robot, his guardian is another astronaut, Kendra (Carla Gugino), and his only real connection is via Skype with Tulsa (Britt Robertson), an unhappy teen living in Colorado.
Gardner yearns to visit a home he’s never known, Earth, and to find his father. With Kendra’s help, he is granted permission to get to Earth. Soon after arriving, he breaks free and finds Tulsa to enlist her help with finding his family.
But will the pull of Earth’s gravity be too much for Gardner to handle.
This is a movie that pretty much gives away the entire plot, and all its twists, in the trailer. Though I will admit the ending goes in a slightly different direction than I was expecting. Still, it’s not hard to figure out what’s going to happen with this film.
The charm is in watching a fish-out-of-water story for Gardner, who only knows Earth culture through classic films, and the love-story between him and Tulsa. And that’s something director Peter Chelsom knows how to deliver having directed romances like “Shall We Dance” and “Serendipity” in the past. And that all works fine in this film, too.
The film is a showcase of a swath of the American West, and there’s plenty of decent performances from Butterfield, Robertson, Gugino and Oldman. As I said, the “twists” at the end are fairly predictable, and the movie ends in a slightly less optimistic place than one might have expected, but this works as a date movie. It’s not overly complex or deep, but it’s enjoyable.
So if you’re looking for something light and fun this Valentine’s Day with a touch of romance, this movie fits the bill.
“The Space Between Us” has been rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for brief sensuality and language.
Three stars out of four.
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