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The Space Between Us: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

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

Theatrical Release: February 3, 2017 / Running Time: 121 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Peter Chesholm / 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), Peter Chelshom (voice of Centaur)

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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.

"The Space Between Us" only briefly plays like "The Martian Jr.", abandoning the Red Planet for Earth-based shenanigans.

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 in theaters shortly before Valentine's Day, Space was 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 search for Gardner's father brings him (Asa Butterfield) and Tulsa (Britt Robertson) to a soap opera actor who has no business being in a major motion picture.

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.

Movies opening in February are not supposed to be good, but The Space Between Us is still way worse than it has any reason to be. The film's greatest achievement is illustrating that it's possible to make a $30 million movie without even a modicum of talent.

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

The Space Between Us: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

1.85:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 7.1 DTS-HD MA (English)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
Extras Subtitled; Not Closed Captioned
Release Date: May 16, 2017
Suggested Retail Price: $34.98
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50 & DVD-9)
Blue Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($29.98 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

The biggest flaws of The Space Between Us are dramatic. Technically, it is fine, if unremarkable. Unlike the movie it exhibits, the Blu-ray's 2.40:1 transfer leaves nothing to be desired. The 7.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack is okay too, if you can forgive the cringeworthy dialogue and mushy score it distributes.

Nathaniel Shepherd (Gary Oldman) has much more presenting to do in this extended scene. If you can't get enough of director Peter Chesholm in the short love featurette, you can spend two hours listening to him talk on The Space Between Us audio commentary.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Extras begin with an alternate ending (3:01),

which is just as bad as the one the film went with.

Next up come five deleted scenes (13:44). They include an extended speech by Gary Oldman's character and an additional acting moment for Carla Gugino. When scenes are deemed unfit for a movie this bad, you assume they have to be terrible. But these don't provoke so strong a reaction.

"Love Featurette" (4:28) is as uninspired as its non-title indicates. It's basically an extended trailer for the film, with some talking heads thrown in to sell you on the story.

Last and most torturously comes an audio commentary by director Peter Chelsom. As if subjecting yourself to another viewing of the movie wasn't bad enough, this way you get to watch it with someone who is quite proud of it and under the impression you'd like to know how such a film came together. He quickly likens the movie to those of Back to the Future director Robert Zemeckis (ha!). Other topics arising: how NASA has thought about having a pregnant astronaut, how this marked his first time shooting digitally (he never intends to going back), and where CGI was and wasn't used.

The discs open with short ads for The Bye Bye Man, Before I Fall, the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park, The Resurrection of Gavin Stone, and A Dog's Purpose.

The menu takes Universal's standard approach of adapting poster art and applying score to it. The Blu-ray is equipped with resuming, bookmarking, and screensaver features.

The black DVD and silver Blu-ray share a slipcovered keepcase with a Digital HD insert.

Whether you were born on Mars (Asa Butterfield) or Earth (Britt Robertson), tablets are great fun!

CLOSING THOUGHTS

It will take something spectacularly bad to unseat The Space Between Us as the worst movie I've seen this year. Mushy and devoid of intelligence, this tween-oriented sci-fi romance is a complete waste of its cast's talents and your time. Universal's combo pack offers an acceptable amount of extras and fine picture and sound, but the movie itself is light years away from earning a recommendation.

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Related Reviews:
New to Disc: Gold Rings The Founder The Red Turtle
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 May 17, 2017.



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