"The Space Between Us” Has No Lift Off And Is Dead On Arrival

By Scott Kurland

Film: The Space Between Us
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Brit Robertson, Carla Gugino, BD Wong, Janet Montgomery, and Gary Oldman
Rated PG-13
Director: Peter Chelsom

As a film critic, there are times where I have a "sixth sense" so to speak. It’s not that I know when a film is going to be good, because honestly, I don’t. However, I am able to predict when a film is going to be a total disaster. How do I know? Well, it all has to do with a film’s release date. If the film is released early, it means that the studio has a ton of faith in their project and rightly so as the film usually turns out to be very good. However, if the movie's release is delayed multiple times, something ain’t right. This week’s film is “The Space Between Us,” and it's release date was delayed and subsequently moved five times. FIVE TIMES! That’s never a good sign. Before I even begin the review, I just have to tell you...this movie is garbage. Yes folks, this is one of those reviews where I spend five paragraphs trashing a movie; one paragraph for every time this movie was delayed. So sit back, relax, and let’s take this film to task shall we?

“The Space Between Us” is the nauseating tale of Gardner Elliot; the first boy born on Mars. This occurs because his astronaut mother Sarah  (Janet Montgomery) got pregnant and (very irresponsibly) went into space where she died shortly after giving birth. Because baby Gardner won’t be able to handle the gravity of Earth, he must remain on the red planet; something which causes major problems for Nathaniel Shepard (Gary Oldman), the man who is funding this mission to colonize Mars. Sixteen years pass and Gardner (Asa Butterfield) has been raised solely by scientists and astronauts like Kendra Wyndham (Carla Gugino). Kendra, feeling guilty that Gardner has not yet experienced all that earth has to offer, requests that he be able to return to his mothers planet. Once on Earth Gardner, doesn't wait for permission to see the world and instead runs away to find his father. His earth-born pen-pal Tulsa(Brit Robertson), offers to help him. Along the way, Tulsa discovers that, not only is Gardner from Mars, but she is falling in love with him. I know. Cue the gagging noises.

This movie was written by Allan Loeb, the man responsible for writing “Collateral Beauty;” a film I downright loathe. Learning this, I went back and looked at his complete filmography. Not only did he write that film, but he wrote two Kevin James movies (“Here Comes The Boom” and “The Dilema.”). He wrote “Rock Of Ages” and “Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps.”Needless to say, Loeb is no stranger to writing by-the-number films drenched in schlock. My biggest problem with “The Space Between Us,” is that it reminds us constantly about a better film: Wim Wendors’ “Wings Of Desire.” Gardner watches it several times before he comes to Earth and, once on Earth, he starts flashing back to that movie. Here’s the thing, “Wings of Desire” is a great film, and to compare yourself to that is like saying “Corky Romano” is “The Godfather.” Trust me, this isn’t “Wings of Desire.It’s not even “City of Angels,” a film that is a failed remake of “Wings of Desire.” I will say that I’d love to see or listen to the “How Did This Get Made Podcast” do a double feature live show of “City of Angels” and “The Space Between Us.” I just want to hear Jason Mantzoukas confirm that this movie is next level bonkers and that a 19 year old boy out "Nicolas-Cages" Nicolas Cage.

My biggest problem with this movie is how the character of Gardner is written by Loeb and played by Butterfield. When the film begins, he’s revealed to be incredibly smart boy and he interacts well with Carl Gugino and the rest of the crew. This changes drastically when he gets to Earth, and his performance boarders on a Robot/Alien pretending to be human and a high functioning sociopath with a social disorder. I mean, it’s not like Gardner grew up alone on Mars. He was surrounded by alternating groups of scientists and Astronauts over the course of sixteen years and yet, when he arrives on Earth, he acts like he never met a person EVER. He is also shocked when he encounters a horse, but he’s watched dozens of movies on mars, some of which I am sure featured different barnyard animals. To make things even more strange, Gardner claims he doesn’t know how to talk to a beautiful woman like Tulsa, but he was raised by super model Carla Gugino. Gugino is so good looking that she was named one of Maxim, IMDB, and People’s most beautiful women of all time. In short, I call BS on the writing and casting of this film. If they wanted Gardner to not be able to talk to women, they should have cast an actress who gives off a more motherly vibe like Kathy Bates, Sigourney Weaver, or Sally Field-not Gugino . Loeb has proven time and time again that he can’t write characters, and Butterfield keeps making poor film decisions. Both of these things need to stop.

“The Space Between Us” is directed by Peter Chelsom, the man who directed “The Mighty” and “Serendipity. Chelsom knows how to make sentimental films and romances, so I don’t know what he was thinking here. I felt nothing for these characters and the romance was so rushed couldn't help but say, out loud: “WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING.The two leads  sleep together after knowing each other for just three days. Keep in mind this takes place after Butterfield puts his hand on Robetson’s thigh and she also say’s: “What is happening?” Yeah, what is was happening is... nothing. Nothing makes sense in this movie. Oh, and one more thing, the casting of Brit Robertson and Butterfield is so bananas.  Robertson is 26 and Butterfield is 19. I know. Weird right?  They just don’t look right together. Either get Robertson a male lead closer to her age, or do that same thing for Butterfield. I feel bad for Robertson, because she’s one the most talented younger actresses working today and she keeps getting cast as a teenager or loner (or in this films case, both).  It wouldn’t be the end of the world if she played her age. Actually, it would be great. Both her and Gary Oldman are too good for this film, and it boggles my mind how they got Oldman in this film in the first place. Someone must of called in a huge favor, because Oldman seems so out of place here.

“The Space Between Us,” is one of the worst films of 2017, one I knew I had to see because it's release was delayed so many times. I implore you, either avoid this film at all cost, or watch it out morbid curiosity so you know what terrible filmmaking looks like. If you do watch it, wait till it’s on Netflix or OnDemand in a few weeks. “The Space Between Us” is one of the worst films I have ever seen. It gets Sci-Fi wrong, is a terrible romance and, with the exception of Gugino and Robertson, everyone is unlikable. Look for this on my worst of the God Awful list in December. This will definitely top the list.

scott kurlandComment