(The Picket)-This is the plot of The Space Between Us: An astronaut being sent on a pioneering mission to Mars turns out to be pregnant midflight to the red planet, then dies in childbirth, leaving a son whose body cannot handle the return trip to earth’s gravity. The boy grows up in a bubble with scientists and longs to discover the planet and father that helped make him. This film sound like an emotional journey, which could give us profound questions about the human condition and what family or self-discovery mean: sadly the product falls short of the hype.
The Space Between Us feels more like a Hallmark or Disney Channel made for TV movie than a journey of philosophy. Director Peter Chelsom gives us some beautiful cinematography and lovely outer space and landing scenes but falls short on more three-dimensional characters and predictable plot lines. Asa Butterfield’s Gardner Elliot is a character you can feel empathy for as the lonely teen boy on Mars, but somehow feels like a storybook character more than a real person. His main co-star Britt Robertson’s Tulsa, while played well, is almost a walking Hollywood trope, the mistreated foster child lost in a system of the state and just wanting out. Carla Gugino’s astronaut and mother figure Kendra Wyndham is not given enough development before Gardner’s escape plans to be seen as a real mother figure. The big name actor for the film Gary Oldman, playing scientist and investor Nathaniel Shepherd gives his best to try and make a complicated character in a predictable story arc. Shepherd seems to mostly be the bad guy and unsympathetic, his actions almost make the film’s ending stranger.
Overall this entire movie would have been a wonderful Disney channel special, but as a feature for a theatrical debut, it falls flat. It is cute and quirky but lacks the depth and charm of a real sci-fi film or a love story.
Perhaps a victim of poor marketing, as the film would have been better had I expected a family film. Even looking at it as a family film it lacks the power of other recent family items like Miss. Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children or Moana, both of which have stronger characters and messages about differences.
In the case of this film, I’d say Flick-it away at the theater, but maybe give it a break later if you happen to be bored with your Netflix queue. It’s not really big-screen-ticket worthy.
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Jessica Sharpless is a reporter for the Picket and can be contacted email@example.com