UK Release Date: 10th February 2017
Runtime: 120 minutes
Director: Peter Chelsom
Writer: Allan Loeb
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson, Gary Oldman, Carla Gugino, BD Wong, Janet Montgomery
Synopsis: A young man born to an astronaut landing on Mars to form a new colony forms an online relationship with a girl back on Earth and decides he wants to set foot on his home planet for the first time.
It has been a good few years since the young adult trend got moving in earnest with the double-punch of Twilight and The Hunger Games. By now, it feels as if almost every YA novel has made its way to the big screen and so now Hollywood has decided to begin crafting YA material of its own. The Space Between Us takes the tropes and conventions of these romantic stories and adds a crucial ingredient to the mix – outer space. Unfortunately, that’s roughly where the invention and excitement ends.
Gardner (Asa Butterfield) was born on Mars when his astronaut mother Sarah (Janet Montgomery) conceived prior to establishing a colony on the Red Planet. When the programme’s CEO Nathaniel (Gary Oldman) hears of the birth, he decides to keep the child secret and, after Sarah died in childbirth, he entrusts Gardner to fellow astronaut Kendra (Carla Gugino). Gardner strikes up a relationship with Colorado girl Tulsa (Britt Robertson) over the internet and vows that he will make his way to Earth, but Nathaniel and Kendra are concerned that his body will be unable to adjust to the differing environment of Earth.
There have been very few films released during the young adult phenomenon that have been as shamelessly cheesy as The Space Between Us. It’s like The Fault in Our Stars, if it had been written by Nicolas Sparks. The first hour or so sketches a relatively silly romantic premise and the middle section of the film sees a conventional road trip structure unfold. It isn’t until the third act that the film becomes utterly ridiculous, with some seriously head-scratching plot developments and at least two frankly absurd plot twists that will have just about everyone rolling their eyes.
The film also struggles with some incredibly ripe dialogue and an unfortunate performance from Gary Oldman, who is entirely devoid of any subtlety. He starts off as a charming, avuncular scientist and quickly becomes a sinister monster, before undergoing a whiplash-inducing about turn as the revelations mount. It’s an awful performance, but one that is fuelled almost entirely by the poor script and Peter Chelsom‘s dismally maudlin direction.
That said, The Space Between Us almost holds together and that’s a result of the easy-going chemistry between leads Asa Butterfield and Britt Robertson. Both have been considerably better in other movies, but there’s an undeniable spark between them and the scenes in which they are given space to interplay really crackle. Butterfield, in particular, works very well in an awkward turn reminiscent of his work in the brilliantly emotional X+Y. There’s a believability and genuine emotion to their burgeoning relationship that elevates the otherwise clichéd material.
They lift the film when they are given the chance, but the plot very quickly catches up to them and overrides all of their good work. The Space Between Us has a number of things in its favour and the two leads definitely have the potential to construct a compelling relationship story, if they are handed some better material. However, every time The Space Between Us almost becomes an interesting tale, there’s some lazy writing or ridiculous plotting to bring it, rather ironically, right back down to Earth.
Pop or Poop?
Peter Chelsom has put together a disappointing space-set romance tale with The Space Between Us. The chemistry between the two lead characters is entertaining and the script contains some smart moments, but the pay-off is an utterly ludicrous succession of bonkers plot twists that culminate in a finale that is simply far too neat.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.
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