This review was originally published on News Cult in 2017.

Starring: Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson, Gary Oldman, Carla Gugino, B.D. Wong

Director: Peter Chesolm

Running Time: 120 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Intense Re-Entry

Release Date: February 3, 2017

If an astronaut on her way to Mars turned out to have gotten pregnant just before departure, would your first thought be how mortified she must be of her irresponsibility? If you said yes, you might just be Gary Oldman in The Space Between Us. In the moment, that sentiment is a little disturbing and quite backwards. Eventually it becomes clear why Oldman – the man behind this Martian colonization effort – reacts this way, and it is somewhat reasonable but also still a little patronizing.

That lack of progressiveness also plagues Space’s vision of the future. Beyond the fact that travel to Mars is reasonably accessible, there is not much to distinguish this vision of Earth from the 2017 version. The only new technology appears to be the latest generation of tablets. To paraphrase Tom Servo: so… 30 years from now it’ll be 3 years from now? I guess that’s what you get when you hire the director of Hannah Montana: The Movie to try his hand at sci-fi. The Space Between Us is decidedly NOT the best of both worlds.

The dearth of futuristic imagination can partially be justified by the fact that Space mostly chooses to be a road trip film through the southwestern U.S. The deal here is that Asa Butterfield (Ender in Ender’s Game) is the Martian-born son of that pregnant astronaut, and he is visiting Earth for the first time after growing up for his first 16 years on the red planet. He is supposed to be held at NASA for observation to determine if his bones can handle the new atmosphere, but he is too in love to be contained by The Man.

So Butterfield and Britt Robertson (Hollywood’s current go-to for all-American gals) go on the run from Oldman and his team to discover the truth behind Butterfield’s origins and just to be free. There is actually a great germ of a story here about how love knows no bounds (and Butterfield plays the slightly alien fish-out-of-water quite naturally) but the implementation is rather plainly prosaic. Also, everyone is genuinely looking out for the best of our Martian child, and a major revelation that resolves every misunderstanding is held off unnaturally for the sake of driving conflict. But at least we know now how passionately Gary Oldman feels about going to Mars.

The Space Between Us is Recommended If You Like: Gary Oldman getting all worked up, Britt Robertson playing the girl next door, the Asa Butterfield Space Genre

Grade: 2.5 out of 5 Space Colonies