The Space Between Us
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson, Gary Oldman
Directed by: Peter Chelsom (“Hector and the Search for Happiness”)
Written by: Allen Loeb (“Collateral Beauty”)
In space, no one can hear you scream—or let out a monstrous yawn. Such is the case in “The Space Between Us,” a tepid young-adult sci-fi romance that will likely cater to the same tween crowd who eat up tear-jerkers adapted from Nicholas Spark novels and think the dude they go to their homecoming dance with sophomore year will no doubt be the future father of their children.
That might be enough to placate some less discerning audiences, but “Space” contains so many eye rolling-worthy moments, even those starry-eyed high school girls might find it hard to contain their frustration over just how inauthentic the narrative is.
Asa Butterfield (“Mrs. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”) stars as Gardner Elliott, an intelligent young man whose astronaut mother died giving birth to him on Mars. As the youngest inhabitant (and only teenager) on the Red Planet, Gardner’s only real connection to people his age are the daily video chats he has with Tulsa (Britt Robertson), an Earth girl who doesn’t know she’s communicating with a Martian and, like Gardner, is alone in her respected world.
Although it is impossible for scientists (Gary Oldman hamming it up; Carla Gugino phoning it in) to allow Gardner to travel to Earth and experience life because of his weak bone density (huh?), screenwriter Allen Loeb (“Collateral Beauty”) seems to exclaim, “extraterrestrial health concerns be damned!” and figures out a way to drop an absurd plot point to get him there to meet Tulsa and go on a wild goose chase in search of Gardner’s estranged father (because without said absurd plot point, there wouldn’t be a movie, of course).
From there, it’s off to the races as scientists do everything they can to bring Gardner home before the Earth’s atmosphere destroys him and before he can find the truth about his past. Awkwardly directed by Peter Chelsom (“Hector and the Search for Happiness”), “Space” never finds its voice or decides what kind of movie it was to be. It is obvious Chelsom and Loeb have grand aspirations (the “E.T.” allusions are laughable), but if tapping into some kind of Steven Spielberg magic was their ultimate end game, they missed it by a few million light years.