The Space Between Us would have worked far better, had it not been so determined to stay beautiful
The Space Between Us tells the story of Gardner Elliot, a boy born on Mars during Earth’s first colonization mission of the red planet. Forced to remain there because of his different physiology, Gardner grows into an intelligent teenager and yearns to know more about his Earth-born parents, as well as meet Tulsa, a street smart Colorado girl he met in an online chatroom. Gardner eventually gets the chance to leave Mars, after undergoing surgery that strengthens his body. Once on Earth, he learns that he would still die from the effect of Earth’s stronger gravity on his body. In fit of despair, he runs away from his guardians to meet up with Tulsa.
Beneath its ostentatious façade of interplanetary travel, The Space Between Us is really no more than a simple young adult love story. Sheltered (ill health) boy meets streetwise girl. The duo runs away and goes on a road trip. After various tribulations, they are forced to part, but because their love is so pure, so strong, all is not lost. There is hope of them meeting again someday. Love transcends all, technology facilitates. Even the millions of miles between Earth and Mars is no problem.
Honestly speaking, I love to cheer for a movie that’s so blatantly optimistic about life. And for many part of the movie, it feel hard not to do so, with the show choked full of oh-wow visual candy moments. There is also the unusual premise built upon the effect of different gravities on an organic body. The truth behind this breaks the heart of a Martian Manhunter fan like me. But nonetheless, it imbues an intriguing sense of realism in to the story.
On the other hand, what really didn’t work for me was how the story insisted on staying a sugary romance tale. Everything turns out well. Everything is so sanitised with every main character revealed ultimately to be sweet and decent. Despite the myriad of crises presented, you know Gardner Elliot is never in any real danger, because the whole world, and Mars, are out to save him. Perhaps the producers believe this sort of fantasy would appeal to young adults. Maybe this is how date movies are still supposed to be. For me, I kind of felt a little more tragedy would have made the story far more memorable. I’m not asking for the teen to die. But for him to be given everything he wants, so effortlessly. Hmm …
Check out my other snappy movie reviews!