Monday, June 19, 2017

The Space Between Us: A Romance? Science Fiction? A Love Story? A Tech Story? It's All Four!

Movie Review: The Space Between Us (2017)
Version: Library borrow

The Space Between Us is a romance wrapped in science fiction. A love story wrapped in tech story. But not just any romance or love story nor just any science fiction or tech story. It is multi-dimensional in every aspect.

Gardner Elliot (played by Asa Butterfield) is inadvertently born on Mars on the first Mars colony. His mother dies giving birth to him and the private company running the colony and NASA keep his birth and life a secret, to protect the project. He is raised and educated by the crew, and like them, he is limited in his exposure to the world. But unlike them, he has never seen Earth -- the blue sky, the rivers, lakes, or oceans, the greenery of plant life, the cities or its overwhelming population, and never felt rain nor smelled flowers. And, of course, he's never had contact with his peers -- except one young lady in Colorado, with whom he has secretly been chatting with online: Tulsa (played by Britt Robertson). The decision is made to bring Gardner to Earth to see if he can physically withstand Earth's gravity and ecosystem so that he can live there and have more contact with others. When he arrives, he makes up his mind to find Tulsa and begins the adventure of a lifetime to seek out his father, whom he has never met. Only, Garner has a health problem. And his survival becomes a race against time.

Gary Oldman plays Natheniel Shepherd, the industrialist who has spearheaded the project and made the decision to keep Gardner's life a secret. He takes a particular interest in Gardner's life on Mars and his survival on Earth. When Gardner runs off, he is particularly vexed.

Asa Butterfield is particularly good as Gardner. He is tall and gawky as you might expect some who is born and raised on less massive Mars to be. He plays Gardner as awkward and naive as you would expect the character to be around an unfamiliar Earth. And he shows the raw wonder and emotion at the beauty of a colorful, sense-filled world the Earth is compared to the monochromatic, dry place that Mars is. In a sense, Gardner feels a romance for this amazing place called Earth, as he continually asks people he runs into, "What is your favorite thing about Earth?" He so wants to stay on Earth, and so, in a sense, there is a love story there, too.

Butterfield essentially plays opposite Britt Robertson, who becomes his human love interest. There was a space between them, literally, when he lived on Mars. They unite on Earth as she helps him run away, but his inexperience and his health problem create a new space between them. Still they have this bond that endures and this is the human romance/love story within The Space Between Us.

This film isn't so much about location. It isn't about cinematography. It isn't even about set design or costume design. What makes this film is character development and theme. The writing is great, although there are occasional awkwardnesses in how it is carried out. But if anything, The Space Between Us points out how beautiful our world is and the essential relationships between us.

There's a big red herring in the plot that carries out till the very end. But it's worth enduring for the surprise ending.

The Space Between Us would never be a blockbuster movie. But it would be a good family movie for a variety of tastes. It's worth a feel-good weekend gathering around the TV or a weekday evening.

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