The first human born on Mars travels to Earth for the first time, experiencing the wonders of the planet through fresh eyes. He embarks on an adventure with a street smart girl to discover how he came to be.
An ambitious young executive is sent to retrieve his company's CEO from an idyllic but mysterious "wellness center" at a remote location in the Swiss Alps, but soon suspects that the spa's treatments are not what they seem.
In this interplanetary adventure, a space shuttle embarks on the first mission to colonize Mars, only to discover after takeoff that one of the astronauts is pregnant. Shortly after landing, she dies from complications while giving birth to the first human born on the red planet - never revealing who the father is. Thus begins the extraordinary life of Gardner Elliot - an inquisitive, highly intelligent boy who reaches the age of 16 having only met 14 people in his very unconventional upbringing. While searching for clues about his father, and the home planet he's never known, Gardner begins an online friendship with a street smart girl in Colorado named Tulsa. When he finally gets a chance to go to Earth, he's eager to experience all of the wonders he could only read about on Mars - from the most simple to the extraordinary. But once his explorations begin, scientists discover that Gardner's organs can't withstand Earth's atmosphere. Eager to find his father, Gardner escapes the team... Written by
You know how it goes. The boy (Asa Butterfield) meets the girl (Britt Robertson), there's mutual liking and they want to meet... but there's a space between them. So he will travel to Earth from the Mars colony where he was born.
Also starring: Gary Oldman, Carla Gugino, and B.D. Wong, because even the coolest teenagers need some adults around.
"The Space Between Us" rides on the current wave of Young Adult, or YA for short, novels and movies which has dowsed the cinemas for the last ten years or so.
It's still about romance, some sci-fi and action like the most of them (or at least the most popular of them) but it brings some refreshing changes to the menu.
It's based on an original screenplay and not novel. It offers sci-fi and action without relying on done to death YA clichés (dystopian society, dating or fighting supernatural beings, etc). It puts characters in real danger so you can't always predict whether everybody's gonna make it. It doesn't have clear-cut good and bad guys...
And last but by far not least, the movie has a nice classic Steven Spielberg-ian feel which puts the sense of wonder and adventure back to sci-fi which, in my humble opinion, is often missing or buried under all those visual effects and pizazz setpieces.
Even good old Spielberg himself is not always able to pull it off: the movie makes you actually care about the characters because there's a real human backbone to the story. It's entertainment but it also has heart.
All this rests very much on the lead man Asa Butterfield who was 18 during the filming and turns 20 this April.
Former child star of "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas", Scorsese's "Hugo" and "Ender's Game" fame, this guy has grown to become a fine young actor indeed.
I very much enjoyed his soft but sure performance as an innocent and fragile alien braving the world unknown to him. He has found a seemingly perfect balance between strange, childlike and soulful that the role asks of him, and I'd be glad to see him getting some awards or nominations for this standout work.
He even has this memorable, Pinocchio-ish appearance and style of moving which seems suitable for a person not used to Earth's gravity.
The other characters stay more in the background, so this turns out to be Asa Butterfield's show, and he more than fulfills the promise.
The next most interesting performance comes from Oldman who ventures in the land of brashness and theatricality, in a good way. The aging thespian hasn't offered this kind of colorfulness for quite some time (in a big movie, at least) and I enjoyed it to the point of feeling that his character was underused. Holding him in the background makes sense in the context of a whole story, though.
If you find my score surprisingly high, please remember that it's made for a YA crowd, or at least a teenager in all of us. I would not recommend it alongside 8 out of 10 movies made for older viewer groups. Probably.
But 8 is not too generous. I liked "Space" very much and its overall quality more than compensates a shallow story which surely would work better longer. This could be a bona fide modern classic if the characters and events had more room to develop and breathe. Maybe in the form of (mini-)series or something.
If you like "The Space Between Us" and look for something similar to watch, I would recommend 2014's "The Fault in Our Stars" for moving YA story, or 2015's "Tomorrowland" as an uneven but good example of how to combine sci-fi and action in a YA movie.
I choose to end this review with an off-topic anecdote which I just happen to like very much:
Q: Why did astronaut leave his wife? A: He needed more space
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