Entertainment

How does 'The Space Between Us" stack up to recent space movies?

Posted February 5

 (Deseret Photo)

OUTER SPACE — It seems like there have been a lot of space related movies released within a short amount of time recently with “Arrival”, “Passengers” and now “The Space Between Us.”

Unfortunately, only 33 percent of these movies are any good. And of the three, “The Space Between Us” has been my least favorite.

The set up for “The Space Between Us” is a story about a child named Gardner Elliot (Asa Butterfield) who was born on the planet Mars to an astronaut who did not know she was pregnant before leaving to Mars. The astronaut unfortunately dies during childbirth.

The story really begins after the child reaches the age of 16 and begins to long for Earth after spending all of his life as a secret in an artificial habitat on Mars. The story progresses to the point where Gardner is allowed to come to Earth and his true adventure begins.

I liked the idea of the story and thought it had a lot of potential to start with. Unfortunately, that potential quickly evaporated and we were left with a poorly executed teen angst movie.

Here are a few key points where the film just did not hold up:

Poor character development

Our three main characters are Gary Oldman (who plays a Richard Branson type,) Britt Robertson who plays Asa Butterfield’s 17-year-old love interest (even though she is 27 in real life) and of course, Butterfield. However, with this cast, there is remarkably very little time spent getting to know any of these people up front.

This for me was the first problem since we see nothing of the Gardner character until he is already 16 and anxious to leave Mars. From my perspective, this is like sitting next to a moody teenager during a two-hour car ride who you know very little about and trying to have a conversation about why they are moody. This is a futile endeavor as anyone with a teenager knows, and by the end of the ride, you will know less about this person than you did when you started.

Fortunately, there is some redemption to this, and we still find ourselves rooting for Gardner’s success as he escapes from the facility they are housing him in and he begins his journey across the country with his new friend.

Convoluted story line

In addition to the poor character development, the story did not set a clear direction from the beginning. We don't get a sense of where the movie is headed until 20 or 30 minutes into the film. Once a direction is set, it still takes awhile to know exactly what Gardner expects to accomplish when he gets to earth. Is it to find the girl he has befriended through his computer while on Mars? Is it to find the father he never knew? Or is it just to experience all the sensory delights a new planet has to offer? Eventually it ends up becoming a little bit of everything.

However, there are some genuinely funny moments throughout the film as Gardner tries to relate to humans on earth and not get himself accidentally killed.

So many holes

I’m not normally the guy who calculates physics and the statistical probabilities of the things I see in films. I leave that to the elite minds of the world who have the time and motivation to scrutinise every quantifiable detail of a movie.

However, there were so many questions I had about the actual plausibility of any of it, that it distracted my mind from the movie itself. That is always a bad sign when I'm trying to accept the world that has been created for the audience by the director.

Conclusion

I wanted to like the film, but in the end was left feeling like it didn't really add up to much I could get excited about. As a one-off movie, it might be fine to go see if you would rather sit in a theater than at home. What concerns me most is that they very clearly left it open for a sequel.

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