Director Peter Chelsom has delivered to this world with The Space Between Us two movies in one.
The first is a space story, a tale of a frantically motivated businessman driven to bring humankind to a colony on Mars. Gary Oldman plays organization patriarch Nathaniel Shepherd as a complex dude who won’t take no for an answer, a guy who strives for what’s right … until an unforeseen disaster happens to the leader of the first crew up there and he becomes secretive and even a bit creepy to save his own skin and the company’s fortune.
The screenplay by Allan Loeb gives us a hard look at how the folks up there on Mars deal with that tragedy. Can’t help but deliver this spoiler: This happens to be the upbringing of the first kid ever born on the planet, and without his mother yet, because she was the lead astronaut who died birthing him upon arrival to Mars.
Anyway, this all drags on surprisingly sleepy and without great effects as the kid acts up on his surrogate space station mom, played by a sometimes strident, sometimes reluctant Carla Gugino, who seems to know this portion of the story is going nowhere fast as the plot strains to reach part two. NASA must prevail to bring now 17-year-old Gardner Elliot to Earth.
That’s where he escapes the medical team’s clutches to find the girl he’s been slyly tech-chatting with during her calculus class, a foster teen by the name of Tulsa, a loner who’s plucky and pretty and …
Yes, the second movie is a teen love story.
It’s better than the space story, but still has its troubles.
To start with, actress Britt Robertson turns 27 in April and looks too old as Tulsa next to the gangly Asa Butterfield, who is seven years her junior. There goes the most of the romantic air out of this duck-out-of-water balloon, where first she must overcome how this weird kid lied to her online and then decide on the dime to take him on a chase to find his father. And learn about Earth.
My dear wife Karen and I were exactly half the audience in a medium theater for a 12:35 p.m. Saturday matinée at the Regal Cinemas’ Shoppingtown complex just outside of Syracuse. There was no other crowd reaction to judge. But we thought it was two hours that could have been worse if the space story had taken up more of the plot and could have been better if the romantic tale had been more believable.
Would you prefer that Hollywood cast teens as teens or actors in their 20s as teens, and why? Would you be more interested in the first colonization of Mars, or bringing the first kid born on Mars back to Earth where he escapes and finds love, and why?