Monday 30 January 2017

The Space Between Us ... Spaced out

ON the surface, director Peter Chelsom's science-fiction flick The Space Between Us is about the first
and only person born on Mars wanting to return to Earth after 16 years to discover the identity of this father. In the process, the orphan, whose mother died giving birth to him, strikes up a friendship with an Earthling who's also an orphan.
  Dig a little deeper, however, and it's about the boy and the girl losing their virginity with each other. And the fact that they did it in near a campfire in an Arizona desert  is icing on the cake.
  The film doesn't break new Mars ground as Matt Damon had colonised the planet in The Martian (2015). A boy wanting to find out the identity of his father is also nothing new, as is him bonding with the pretty blonde orphan.
    The least the filmmakers could have done was to ensure that Gardner Eliot (Asa Butterfield, b. 1997), 16, looked similar in age to classmate Tulsa (Britt Robertson, b. 1990).
   Tall and lanky Gardner is earnest and has a big heart, while short and slim Tulsa is computer-savvy, rides a superbike, sings and plays the piano, and can fly a crop duster. Does this sound like someone who languished in the foster care system?
   Gardner struggling to find his footing on Earth is similar to someone from the past popping up in our
Britt Robertson and Asa Butterfield hope the film won't crash .
era in time-travel films. There are discordant moments, but the newcomer eventually strikes a common ground with his new moment in time.
    Therefore, Gardner's mouth dropping in awe at something unusual he sees eventually wears thin.
   He makes a reference to director Wim Wenders's German film Der Himmel Uber Berlin (Wings of Desire, 1987) three times. It's about an angel giving up his immortality and "falling" to Earth to be with a pretty blonde.
  I can understand Elliot wanting to fall to Earth too, but I sure hope he doesn't see himself as an angel.
    His guardian on Mars, astronaut Kendra (Carla Gugino of San Andreas), tells him that her husband divorced her when he found that she couldn't conceive. This is the director reinforcing the theme of a missing parent.
   Gardner finds a kindred spirit in Tulsa because the latter has been let down by her foster families many times.
    She says her stepfather is interested in her only because of the welfare cheques he receives. The orphan and the sidelined girl go on a road trip to find the former's father, and along the way, take in the sights and landscapes and explore each other's terrain.
Britt and Asa think they have a bright future together.
  Gary Oldman plays Nathaniel Shepherd, who conceived the idea of a Mars colony, and therefore. B.D. Wong plays Chen, a director of a space firm.
  The film proceeds at a snappy pace because it's got to get to the road trip quickly, but I didn't find the film convincing nor the theme engrossing. Also, the climax feels forced.

2 out of 5 stars


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