The Space Between Us
Director: Peter Chelsom
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Gary Oldman, Britt Robertson, Carla Gugino
The Space Between Us isn’t really a film about space — it’s more of a teen romance movie that’s average at best. Despite the film’s many flaws, Gary Oldman’s performance and the plot's premise still manage to entertain viewers.
The film centres around a 16-year-old boy, Gardner (Butterfield), who is stuck on Mars after his mother dies in childbirth while on a mission. With the help of a team of scientists, he travels to Earth in hopes to find his biological father and is put under the supervision of Shepherd (Oldman), one of the leaders of the Mars colonization project.
The rest of the film centres around his inability to adapt to life on Earth and his romantic relationship with a girl named Tulsa (Robertson).
The script’s cheesy and poorly-written lines is the film’s biggest flaw. At times, the romance feels like something out of Twilight. Throughout the film, Gardner asks almost everyone he meets on Earth, “What’s your favourite thing about Earth?” Later on when Tusla asks him what his favourite thing about it is, he responds by telling her that it’s her. The lines are cliché at best and just make you want to roll your eyes.
Butterfield’s mediocre acting does nothing to salvage the script. His entire performance is so monotone that you start believing that he is actually a Martian. In one scene when Shepherd finds him, Gardner asks, “Why can’t you just leave me alone?” Butterfield delivers this line as if he’s just reading off paper — with no anger or frustration at all. His acting doesn’t feel authentic and his lack of emotions makes his performance truly unmemorable.
Conversely, Oldman’s acting is the only highlight of the film. His convincing portrayal of Shepherd is one of his best performances in recent years. In one scene, he argues against the decision to bring Gardner to Earth and uses so many different vocal tones and movements to authenticate his character’s personality and behaviour. His irritability, confusion, and determination along with his frantic pacing fully immerses you into his character’s psychology.
The soundtrack is what truly puts the nail in the coffin for this film, and firmly nests it in the genre of a typical teen movie. Pop songs that are too loud and have annoying lyrics accompany many of the romantic scenes between Gardner and Tulsa, which makes the film feel less intelligent and targeted towards teenagers.
Scenes like Tulsa riding a motorcycle accompanied with upbeat music to make it look powerful are cliché and obvious of teen movies. This poor choice of music completely changes the mood of The Space Between Us from an interesting science fiction film to a meaningless teen drama.
The Space Between Us is mindless entertainment and your ordinary teen soap opera. If you don’t care much for Gary Oldman, it may be best to skip this movie as it’s far from being the best thing about Earth.