Cast: Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson, Gary Oldman and Carla Gugino
16 year-old Gardner Elliott (Butterfield) is the first of his kind. A human born on Mars. Having lived his life as a secret, his only communication with Earth is through a chat room where he meets foster-kid Tulsa (Robertson). But what happens when he gets the chance to go to Earth. Will he find his family, and learn the true meaning of home?
The name of Gary Oldman is what will get ticket sales for The Space Between Us, but it is the two young actors that bring the heart to this story. The pair of star-crossed lovers (‘star-crossed’ here meaning literally separated across the stars) communicate with each other via a Skype-like video call almost daily, with Tulsa venting about her frustrations of being a foster-kid and Gardner covering his real identity by pretending to be asylumed to his parents penthouse due to having an incurable disease. But when he is given the chance to go to Earth, there is only one place, one person, he wants to see first; Tulsa.
I have been looking forward to getting to see this film since Empire magazine visited the set back in early 2016, however I’m frustrated to say that I felt underwhelmed. The story was rushed, with us traversing through 16 years on Mars within the first 15 minutes of the film. We then deal with Gardner’s frustrations of being imprisoned on Mars for what feels like all of a day, until he’s finally granted the authority to visit Earth. 7 months later (about 5 minutes in film time) Gardner takes his first gravity-laden step. From there we are taken on the emotional rollercoaster as Tulsa and Gardner make it their mission to find Gardner’s father, falling in love along the way – pretty much overnight.
The only thing this film does right (harsh but true) is highlighting how much we take the little things about our planet for granted. “What’s your favourite thing about Earth?” -a question asked numerous times by Butterfield’s character, gets you thinking. When asked during their first meeting, Nathaniel’s (Oldman) answer is quite a surprising one – rain. This is then cleverly paralleled as we later see Gardner stepping out into a downpour, relishing in feeling the rain touch his skin for the first time, as the surrounding ‘Earth’ humans cram under a veranda to keep dry. In his first ever conversation with a stranger, Gardner points out that his favourite thing about Earth at that very moment in time is that conversation.
The similar traits to a lot of the answers are simple; they’re non-materialistic. They don’t pick their iPhone, their car, or their favourite fast food. They have personal worth. They’re priceless. I myself would probably say that my favourite thing about Earth is nature. There’s nothing more beautiful than seeing our world as it should be, thriving with wildlife.
The films conclusion is, unfortunately, one you could see coming from a mile away. I won’t give it away, but if you didn’t see it The overall plot itself is simplistic and rushed, giving us no real time to connect with the characters. Unfortunately this is one film that I personally wouldn’t have paid to see – wait for it on Netflix.