The Space Between Us Review

It’s been a long, long journey for The Space Between Us. With less than a month to go before its initial release in December, STX Entertainment moved the release date for the film by a month and a half. Typically, a move like that spells doom for a film but is The Space Between Us worth the wait or should there have been more space between us and the film?

Although hopeless romantics, lovers of cheesy lovey-dovey dialogue, and young adults will probably enjoy the film. The rest of us will find the film to be both messy and shamelessly sentimental.

The Space Between Us follows Gardner Elliot (Asa Butterfield), the first human being born on Mars. Yearning to learn more about the home planet he’s never known, Gardner begins a budding online friendship with Tulsa (Britt Robertson). When he finally has a chance to visit Earth, he goes on an extraordinary journey to discover Earth, find Tulsa, and look for the father he’s never known.

The trailers for The Space Between Us teased us a silly concept about a boy who was born on Mars who’s unable to live on Earth even though he’s fully human. Unfortunately, the film is just as silly as the trailers led to believe. To be fair, some of Allan Loeb’s story ideas are interesting and scientifically plausible. However, when everything is put together, the result is one muddled, ridiculous script. It’s because of this that the film is utterly unfocused. The Space Between Us doesn’t know if it wants to be a sci-fi film, a romantic film, a fish-out-of-water film, a road trip film, or a coming of age film. To top it all off, the film features some pretty bad dialogue even for a young adult film such as this.

Director Peter Chelsom does his best to make sense of all the mess but he ends up making some problematic decisions of his own. The film suffers from a severely long introduction to Gardner’s space dilemma. However, once Gardner reaches Earth then the film begins to pick up the pace and starts to become mildly interesting – maybe even a bit charming. Chelsom also shamelessly amps up the sappiness to 11 during the romantic moments of the film. Unless you’re a hopeless romantic, a sucker for cheesy lovey-dovey dialogue, or a girl under the age of 16 then these moments are highly eye-roll inducing. The film does have some amazing cinematography from Barry Peterson as he captures the beauty of Colorado, Arizona, and the California coastline.

On paper, The Space Between Us’ real draw was supposed to be its amazing cast. A film with Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson, Gary Oldman, and Carla Gugino should’ve been a breeze performance wise but even that is a mixed bag. This is Asa Butterfield’s best performance with his American accent yet. His sense of yearning and wonder is infectious and his exploration of Earth’s offerings is quite hilarious. As ludicrous as the “Gardner’s biology on Earth” predicament is, Butterfield’s willingness to open up and show Gardner’s vulnerability will definitely make audiences want to root for him. As solid as Carla Gugino is in the film, she doesn’t have a meaty enough role to let her do her thing.

Sadly, Britt Robertson and Gary Oldman are the weak links to the film. As good as Robertson is an actress, her tough girl performance wasn’t as impressive as it was in Tomorrowland. Also, when she’s speaking “hip” dialogue, it’s seriously cringeworthy. It just doesn’t sound natural. Gary Oldman provides the film with a hammy performance as he yells and wanders throughout the film. It’s only at the end of the film when Oldman starts to show some emotion. Don’t expect to see much of BD Wong as well as he’s barely in the film.

Overall, The Space Between Us is a film that perfectly caters to its intended young adult audience. For the rest of us, it’s messy, shamelessly sappy, and extremely cheesy. Granted, there are heartwarming and touching moments but The Space Between Us doesn’t hit enough high notes for us to overlook all of its flaws.

Rating: 2.5/5 atoms

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