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The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD cover art
The Space Between Us is now available on home video. Read our review of the Blu-ray combo pack.

The Space Between Us (2017) movie poster The Space Between Us

Theatrical Release: February 3, 2017 / Running Time: 120 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Peter Chelsom / Writers: Allan Loeb (story & screenplay); Stewart Schill, Richard Barton Lewis (story)

Cast: Gary Oldman (Nathaniel Shepherd), Asa Butterfield (Gardner Elliot), Carla Gugino (Kendra Wyndham), Britt Robertson (Tulsa), BD Wong (Tom Chen), Janet Montgomery (Sarah Elliot), Colin Egglesfield (Sarah's Brother)

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We associate space exploration with intelligence. The phrase "rocket scientist" is shorthand for genius and we know that while many have dreamt of being astronauts, only a few brilliant go-getters have ever made it a reality.
But if you enter The Space Between Us expecting something even remotely intelligent, you are in for some otherworldly disappointment.

Though it feels like it is adapted from some semi-popular YA novel, Space is actually an original story penned by Stewart Schill, Richard Barton Lewis, and Allan Loeb (Collateral Beauty), who also alone takes screenplay credit. Their script poses the question, "What would happen if a human baby was born while traveling through the universe?"

Sarah Elliot (Janet Montgomery), the leader of a mission that will find astronauts settling on Mars, discovers the answer to that question after she starts exhibiting morning sickness shortly after launch. Sarah dies in childbirth, but the baby makes it and is named Gardner. We then jump ahead 16 years to find Gardner (Hugo's Asa Butterfield) a gangly teenager who has lived on the red planet his entire life.

A teenage boy born on Mars (Asa Butterfield) visits Earth and gets a motorcycle ride with edgy foster teen Tulsa (Britt Robertson) in "The Space Between Us."

Kendra (Carla Gugino), Gardner's guardian, pleads for the boy, whose existence has been classified from the start by an East Texas company trying to stay afloat, to be allowed to come to Earth. There are health risks, but Gardner makes the trip and swiftly sneaks off from quarantine and close observation. He soon tracks down "Tulsa" (Britt Robertson), the foster teen he has befriended with regular video chats.

As authorities, including mission director-turned-recluse Nathaniel Shepherd (Gary Oldman), go searching for Gardner, he and Tulsa go on adventures, stealing cars, trying to avoid detection, and getting Gardner acclimated with Earth and its different gravity.

Opening shortly before Valentine's Day, Space is designed to be a teen-oriented romance with some truly cringeworthy exchanges between Gardner and Tulsa, the former of whom has learned courting techniques from an ancient film. If the mushy romance doesn't turn you off, then the mindless "action" (if you can call it that) will. Space Between Us makes Passengers seem smart, The Martian seem funny, and Nicholas Sparks trash seem romantic. It starts poorly and just keeps getting worse, as Gardner Ray Bolgers around adjusting to his new weight, tries and fails to blend in socially, and awkwardly gushes all over his brazen love interest.

"The Space Between Us" stars Asa Butterfield as Gardner Elliot, who has spent the first sixteen years of his life on Mars.

An obvious paycheck for Oldman and Gugino, Space does nothing to revive or advance the career of director Peter Chelsom, whose commercial peak came on 2009's Hannah Montana: The Movie.
It does nothing to unearth charm in Robertson, who has proven to be oddly unappealing in movies like Tomorrowland and Mr. Church. With the passage of time, Butterfield seems less and less likely to ever return to the heights of his breakout role in Martin Scorsese's Hugo, though at least he's still getting high-profile work in his awkward phase and able to pull off a decent American accent.

Space is melodramatic and over-the-top at times. More often, it's just stilted and unbelievable. It tries to divert attention from its glaring dialogue deficiencies by drowning out scenes in unknown pop music. No volume of bad music can distract you from the sheer awfulness of a climactic scene set at a beachfront property and featuring a short turn from perhaps the worst actor ever put in a mainstream film.

It's barely February, which means the movies are not supposed to be good. Want a good movie? Go see one of the Oscar nominees you haven't. Want to become convinced that it's possible to make a $30 million movie without even a modicum of talent? Watch The Space Between Us.

Spoiler alert: just between us, there is no Dave Matthews Band song to be found here.

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The Space Between Us (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)
Now in Theaters: Hidden Figures Rings The Comedian Toni Erdmann Gold The Founder
Asa Butterfield: Hugo The Boy in the Striped Pajamas | Britt Robertson: Tomorrowland Mr. Church Delivery Man
Gary Oldman: Red Riding Hood Paranoia Dawn of the Planet of the Apes | Carla Gugino: Race to Witch Mountain San Andreas
Midnight Special The Martian The 5th Wave Divergent Jurassic World
Directed by Peter Chelsom: Hannah Montana: The Movie Shall We Dance? (2004)
Written by Allan Loeb: Collateral Beauty Here Comes the Boom Just Go With It 21

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Reviewed February 3, 2017.



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