There seems to be a push these days towards Mars. I’m not up on all the latest scientific reasons as to why, but I think it has something to do with us trashing the Earth and the only way mankind will survive is if we pick up and move there. If that is the case, I don’t know if this will happen in my lifetime, but based on some books and movies it seems that this will happen in the mid 2030’s. Hmmm, ok. Well even if that is the case, I’d rather live out my days here than venture to the red planet and live in a bubble. But I’m getting sidetracked – much like this movie. What we’ve got is a movie that has found out a way to get to and live on Mars and there’s even been someone born there. Technical abnormalities aside, we’re asked to look past the science-fiction portion of it and concentrate on young love. 3…2…1…let’s go.
Gardner Elliott (Asa Butterfield) is the first human to be born on Mars. His mother, Sarah (Janet Montgomery) “acted irresponsibly” and it’s discovered that she was pregnant after she and her crew took off for Mars. Sarah didn’t survive the pregnancy and we flash forward 16 years and meet Gardner. Gardner communicates with other teens on Earth, but doesn’t tell them the whole truth. Also from a purely logical perspective, there’s no way to communicate in real-time from Earth to Mars (one of the many factual errors in the film). But Gardner longs to visit his Earth and find his father. As fate would have it, he gets his wish, meets up with “Tulsa” (Britt Robertson) and the two end up on a free-for-all trip destined to find Gardner’s daddy. Oh and there might be some romance between the two as well.
The Space Between Us follows all the rules of a teen love film to a tee. Down to the point where you know when what will happen to which character at which time. That and I found the casting of 27 year old Britt Robertson as a high school student a bit odd – she looks her age. That aside, Gary Oldman and Carla Gugino turn in some decent performances as does Asa Butterfield, if you can put aside his character’s mannerisms. I felt like if I wanted to watch a film like this, I should have watched Paper Towns or if I was in a purely scientific mood I’d watch The Martian again (I’ve seen it several times as well as read the novel). This just didn’t seem to take off. Did you see that pun coming? If so, you’re too intelligent to see this movie.
Video: How’s it look?
There’s nothing wrong with Universal’s disc and The Space Between Us looks positively dashing. It’s clear, crisp and sharp – everything we’d want and expect it to be. The few scenes on Mars are housed in a sterile bubble and the remainder of the shots on Earth showcase the beauty of the blue planet. Ocean waves break, sun-kissed mountains shine and the grass is oh so lovely green. It’s a beautiful image. Flesh tones are solid, detail is sharp and in fact a bit too sharp – Britt Robertson, as I said above, does not look 18 years old. It’s a good-looking image, no doubt about it.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The included DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack has a few moments that really shine. Vocals are pure and crisp, but what really got me was the soundtrack. It’s good. I liked it. Jazzy and upbeat, but it’s almost too intrusive. It seems to dominate some of the scenes and for a movie that’s trying to communicate a message – that’s not a good thing. I don’t know if they got carried away with it or not, but it happened on more than one occasion. Still, surrounds play a big part in the film and the overall ambiance is there, just misguided. Sensing a theme?
Supplements: What are the extras?
Alternate Ending – Essentially the same dialogue that was present in the theatrical ending, just a different setting.
Nathaniel’s Full Speech
Smaller than a Lima Bean
Gardner Gets Mugged
“Love” Featurette– An inside look, with the cast and filmmakers, at the themes of the film,highlighting the one theme that connects us all – Love.
Audio Commentary – Chelsom, bless him, was trying with this movie. I can tell his heart was in the right place (and if you’ve seen the movie, you’ll understand the pun), but it just didn’t work out. Admittedly his commentary is pretty insightful, full of technical jargon as well as the standard faire about casting, locations and the overall theme. I wasn’t a fan of the film, but this commentary is a welcome addition for those that were.
The Bottom Line
While not a bad movie, the problem is that it’s all over the map. If it was going to be a science-fiction movie, let it be that. If it wants to be a teen movie or a movie about love – you get the idea. It lost focus and therefore lost my attention fairly early on. While Universal’s disc both looks and sounds great, I feel that there are too many other films in this mixed genre to watch. A good effort, but it ultimately falls a bit flat.