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Trivia / Goofs
Summary / Analysis
Times of India
Gardner Elliot is the first human born on Mars — an intelligent and inquisitive young boy who travels to Earth as he tries to find his father, and goes on to experience the wonders of the planet for the first time.
From the synopsis, it would appear this unusual yet alluring premise would be an intriguing watch. The initial setup is engrossing as it portrays the life of the first ‘genuine’ Martian. However, as soon as he lands on Earth, the sci-fi is relegated to fantasy as the lead pair embarks on a road trip, which doubles as an allegory for self-discovery – a tired trope that quickly loses steam. The narrative tries to juggle between what it means to be human, Elliot’s search for his father and his romance with Tulsa, but ends up focusing primarily on the latter.
For the most part, the performances of the key players are engrossing. The vast experience of both Gary Oldman and Carla Gugino is showcased as they suitably anchor the plot, although the latter is arguably underutilised as a maternal figure. Oldman knows precisely where to hold back and when to let go, thereby stealing every scene he’s in. Asa Butterfield as Gardner Elliot is perfectly cast as the lanky, fish-out-of-water Martian who gives an invested performance and even when tasked with lines worthy of eye-rolls, delivers them with all the sincerity he can muster. His Earthbound counterpart Tulsa played by Britt Robertson, ends up being out of place as the street-smart, precocious girl with a tough exterior. Robertson pushes her character beyond a confident young woman to merely annoying territory.
Their inevitable meeting is where the movie begins to falter. It’s not a far stretch to take cinematic liberties, but they’re usually ignored as gripping action, intriguing narratives and brilliant performances captivate audiences. However, that suspension of disbelief is a tall order in the absence of all the above, and becomes a mammoth task in a sci-fi flick with more fiction than science. What could have been a fascinating exploration of a young boy whose limited interaction with people leads him to discover the nuances of human nature, ends up being a predictable crowd-pleaser with a plot twist thrown in merely to prolong the ‘awwws’.
As ‘The Space Between Us’ resorts to generic pandering by catering to its core demographic of teens and young adults looking for a date movie around Valentine’s Day, the real space ends up being between a great concept on paper, and its actualisation on screen.
‘The Space Between Us’ was initially titled ‘Out of This World’.
This is actor Asa Butterfield’s second sci-fi film after ‘Ender’s Game’.
‘The Space Between Us’ was shot at a school in Albuquerque, during school hours.
The film starts with a press conference with a group of astronauts about to embark on a journey to colonise Mars. While they are on their mission they find out that one of the astronauts Sarah Elliot (Janet Montgomery) is pregnant. After some contemplation on whether to abort the mission, Nathaniel Shepard (Gary Oldman), the CEO of Genesis - the company behind the mission - decides to proceed with the mission, but to keep the presence of the child known only to a few select people. As the shuttle lands on the alien planet, Sarah dies during the delivery of her baby boy. That makes him the first genuine Martian, Gardner Elliot (Asa Butterfield). Raised by scientists and having lived in the company of robots and machines, the 16 year old Gardener has only interacted with 14 humans. He would always be chaperoned by Kendra Wyndham (Carla Gugino), an astronaut and Nathaniel.
Gardener grows up to be an inquisitive teenager. He happens to meet Tulsa (Britt Robertson) online, a street smart girl from Colorado, whose life revolves around jumping from one foster home to another. The two stay in touch in the virtual world, promising to meet someday. Gardener also hacks a robot, to retrieve information about his parents, which was hidden from him. By doing this he gets hold of his motherâs wedding ring and a USB drive which has a video of his mother and a man (Colin Egglesfield). Convinced that this man is his father, he decides to leave for Earth in search of him.
While Kendra tries to help Gardener by having a word with Nathaniel and Tom Chen (B. D. Wong), Director of Genesis, pleading him to send Gardener back to Earth emphasising on his extraordinary intelligence. The former opposes as he mentions a risky surgery that Gardener will have to undergo to acclimatise to Earthâs atmospheric conditions. Ignoring what Nathaniel had to say, Gardener embarks on his journey to Earth, post the successful operation and essential training. Unaware that the teenager had boarded the space shuttle, Nathaniel loses his cool and decides to confront Tom who hid this piece of information from him.
After reaching safely on Earth, Gardener is kept in isolation to go through some mandatory tests to check his fitness level to survive on the planet. Just before the reports could reach him, Gardener realises he is unfit and would be sent back to his home planet. And so he escapes from the NASA quarantine, disguising at every possible step to meet the only person he knows on this planet, Tulsa. Seeking help from passers-by and hitchhiking, Gardener makes it to Tulsaâs school and walks straight to the locker room, where he bumps into her and is greeted with a slap. She accuses him of ghosting her for several months, unaware of his origins as he lies to her about where he's from.
They then decide to take off on a trip, where Gardener is excited to discover Earth. From stealing fancy cars to shopping at the mall, the duo is constantly being chased by Kendra and Nathaniel. Tulsa and Gardener visit her foster home to collect funds for the journey as they see Kendra and Nathaniel following them. Tulsa hops into her foster fatherâs old aircraft and manages to rescue Gardener from being caught. She then flies the aircraft on full throttle, ultimately crash landing in a barn, but the pair manage to escape. Though Kendra and Nathaniel fear they've die in the explosion, the investigation team finds no bodies which assured that the two were still alive. Gardener and Tulsa are now trying to trace the location where the video was shot and meet Shaman Neka (Gil Birmingham) who got his parents married.
They somehow manage to continue their journey with a stolen car through the picturesque stretches of Colorado. They stop on a narrow road and Gardener, gets excited seeing a horse for the first time. Tulsa only finds his reaction silly. Gardener proceeds to tell her the truth about his origins, but Tulsa is not very convinced with his story. Irritated by him, she shows him the way out of the car. After some discussion, he promises not to lie to her, but his truth doesnât go down well with her. Still, she promises to accompany him on his mission to find his father.
Gardener gets acquainted with human emotions - different from what he had experienced amidst robots and machines back home on Mars. He realises he has romantic feelings for Tulsa. As they head towards the beach seen in the video they decide to halt at a nearby hill. They share an intimate moment in the car and kiss, this establishes a stronger bond between the two. Itâs followed by a camping night under a blanket of stars on the hill top where they make love. The next morning the couple are sitting on a huge rock looking at the sky aimlessly, while Gardener discovers a caterpillar and amused by the green creature he sits still to watch it crawl. A lady calls out to them; they enquire if she knows Neka, and surprisingly she happens to be his follower so she takes them to his house. There they get information about his parents and the beach house where the video was shot. By now Gardenerâs health has started to deteriorate and his nose starts bleeding.
Before getting to the beach house in New California, Tulsa takes him to Las Vegas to experience the life there. Gardenerâs health goes from bad to worse and has to go through an emergency surgery. As doctors speak about his bone density Tulsa is now assured that Gardener wasnât lying and belongs to Mars. By now she has taken the decision of leaving him at the hospital, as his condition wouldnât allow him to continue the journey. In a weak moment Gardener convinces her that he knows he wonât survive Earth and wants to meet his father before he dies. Succumbing to the emotional pressure Tulsa drives him to New California and they meet the man they had seen in the video, who says he is his uncle and not his father. Disheartened, Gardener walks towards the shore and deeper into the sea, telling Tulsa he wants to die. Trying her best to stop him, an adamant Gardener continues to go deep into the sea and collapses.
However, a strong arm pulls him out of the water; Kendra and Nathaniel have arrived and revive him. Gardener in half his consciousness asks Nathaniel if he is his father. Nathanielâs expression confirms his doubt and he is immediately rushed into a shuttle accompanied by the three of them and launched into outer space to stabilise his condition in low gravity conditions. After Gardener is returned to the base on Mars, Kendra decides to adopt Tulsa back on Earth. Tulsa is seen training to be an astronaut.