This movie originally was scheduled to release in November, I know this because I received advanced tickets to a screening of this film two weeks before it was supposed to come out in November 2016. Obviously, things didn’t work and the movie was bumped all the way back to February 2017. I’m a sucker for romances as well as sci-fi elements so needless to say the idea behind this film definitely intrigued me. The set up was amusing and charming, the two leads were fine choices and even though everyone seemed to be indifferent or only passively interested in this film, still, I had quite a bit of emotional investment staked in “The Space Between us”; time to see if it paid off.
Nathaniel Shepard (Gary Oldman) fulfills his childhood dream of sending an astronaut crew in a shuttle to be the first people to colonize Mars. Things get complex when an astronaut turns out to be pregnant in space, she dies in childbirth and her child becomes the first child born and raised on Mars. Flash forward to 16 years later and Gardener (Asa Butterfield) is tired of living with the same 14 scientists on the Mars colony and wishes to go to Earth and meet his interplanetary pen-pal Tulsa (Britt Robertson). Gardener finally gets his chance to go to Earth and embarks on a journey with Tulsa to find his father. Unfortunately, Gardener’s organs can’t take Earth’s gravity and his time is rapidly running out.
When I saw the advanced screening, I noticed a consensus of mixed feelings amongst many of the viewers. I think mixed is the best way to describe this movie: it’s got good parts and it’s got bad parts. Unfortunately, the biggest problem with “Space Between Us” comes at the absolute worst time: the beginning. For a movie that flaunts itself as a sci-fi romance, it takes a painfully slow time getting to the actual romance. The first half of the movie is quite dry and doesn’t launch itself into its proclaimed genre about half way into the movie. I understand they have to set things up, but honestly, it shouldn’t take this long to get to the “heart” of the matter…pun absolutely intended.
This is worsened by the fact at how good the movie actually gets once Gardener gets to Earth. The most powerful and enjoyable components of this film only come out in full colorful force once Gardener meets up with Tulsa. True, some of his behavior and the humor rely too much on typical “fish out of water” clichés; some work and some just come across too unrealistic to believe. But when it comes down to the chemistry and the dialog between Tulsa and Gardener, this is where the movie truly and definitively shines. They have such a sweet and endearingly honest and spirited relationship that brings their journey to life in the most romantic and charming way possible. They are the real shining moments of the film, seeing them together is what people need to sit through the sluggish first half for.
It’s kind of like watching a new TV series or Netflix show and you’re waiting for when the really good stuff kicks in. For “The Space Between Us”, it doesn’t come until the two star crossed lovers physically meet and it’s a shame because it’s a really solid and heartwarming chunk of storytelling that people will most likely not even care about because they were too bogged down by first half. There’s some good supporting cast members like Gary Oldman and Carla Gugino but sadly, none of them are used properly and they come off as seat fillers more than anything else. It’s hard to rate this movie because obviously it’s not a must buy or must see in my opinion, but at the same time I truly feel that second half is worth seeing this movie for.
Overall, “The Space Between Us” took too long with spark-less characters and actors to get to the creamy chocolatey center. Butterfield and Robertson truly steal the show and come off as the most likeable and loveable of lovers I’ve seen in a long time. It suffers long and hard from its astronomical mistakes in the first half, but I almost feel it’s worth it just so you can truly appreciate the actual quality work that the two leads and the writers deliver at the middle.