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The Space Between Us (2017)

Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 5/16/2017

All Ratings out of





Review by Mike Long, Posted on 5/2/2017

Why are people obsessed with Mars? Why have they been obsessed with Mars for centuries? Is it because it's the planet closest to Earth? Is it because of its red hue? Is it because of the determination to believe that Mars can support life? For what ever reason, this obsession exists and it's often been translated into the movie. The 1950s saw several movies about Martians coming to Earth. The past decade has seen no less than a half-dozen movies which have action on Mars, including the Disney flops Mars Needs Moms and John Carter. These films have incorporated several genres along with the obvious science fiction, and now The Space Between Us brings us romance.

Under the guidance of Mission Director Nathaniel Shepherd (Gary Oldman) the crew of Magellan 61 are heading to Mars to inhabit a colony there. However, Commander Sarah Elliot (Janet Montgomery) has hidden her pregnancy from officials and not long after landing on the red planet, she dies in childbirth.

This is the first time that I can remember stopping a review in the middle of the synopsis, but I've got to question this. I don't work at NASA, but I feel very good in my assumption that regular medical tests are a routine part of preparation for going into space. How did they not know that Sarah was pregnant? And don't point to some information which we get later in the film, because that doesn't explain this massive plot hole, which pulled me out of the story within the first few minutes. But, I guess we have to keep going...

The story then jumps ahead sixteen years. NASA had decided to keep the existence of Sarah's son a secret, and young Gardner (Asa Butterfield) has spent his entire life living on Mars. Scientist Kendra Wyndham (Carla Gugino) has become his surrogate mother and his only "friend" is a robot that he's built. When not helping out in the lab, Gardner video-chats with a girl named Tulsa (Britt Robertson) who thinks that the boy lives in New York. Despite the medical complications involved, it's decided that Gardner should visit Earth. But, once he lands, he eludes his handlers and races to find Tulsa.

If you remove the mind-numbing plot hole, the first half of The Space Between Us raises some intriguing questions. What would it be like to be a human born on another planet? What would it be like to grow up in a relatively confined space and be the only child there? It makes perfect sense that Gardner would reach out via technology to find a friend and Tulsa, an orphan who had been shuffled between foster homes, makes for an interesting connection, as she feels isolated on her own home planet. And, we don't question the fact that Gardner would want to meet Tulsa once he comes to Earth (setting aside the fact that the officials know that Gardner's body may have difficulty adjusting to Earth's gravity and environment).

But, then The Space Between Us makes a terrible choice. Writer Allan Loeb decides to take the story in the hackneyed Starman/E.T. route in which not only is Gardner a stranger in a strange land, where he understands nothing and is fascinated by everything, he's also a fugitive on the run. Once he finds Tulsa (sorry, no spoiler there), she joins him as an outlaw, as they traverse the country. They even travel by bi-plane at one point. Are you kidding me? I hate to go all Gene Siskel and condemn The Space Between Us for what it isn't, but it really misses the mark here. I doubt that the movie could have been great art, but it could have been a very touching drama in which this "alien" boy learns about Earth, human relationships, and love. Instead, the film insists on leaning more towards being an adventure/road trip movie in which Gardner and Tulsa visit various locations (Hey! Las Vegas! That's original!) and evade their captors. The ending of the film is very melodramatic and, as far-fetched as it is, feels right. If only the movie had decided to focus more on the characters rather than attempting to make things exciting. In the future, there may actually be people like Gardner -- humans born on other planets -- and I hope that they don't have to watch this movie.

The Space Between Us presents us with a 2034 which looks a lot like today on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look great and the image is never overly dark or bright. The picture has a very nice clarity and the depth is notable. The picture is rarely soft. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The rocket sound effects provide notable subwoofer action, while choice moments deliver obvious surround sound and stereo effects. The effects show nice separation and highlight sounds coming from off-screen.

The Space Between Us Blu-ray Disc contains just a few extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Peter Chelsom. "Love" (4 minutes) is a featurette which basically plays as a long trailer with comments from the cast & crew peppered in. They discuss the story, characters, and themes and little else, while we get film clips and some on-set footage. The Disc contains five DELETED SCENES which run about 14 minutes. Almost half of this is taken up by a longer version of the opening scene. In fact, there's only one new scene here. The ALTERNATE ENDING (3 minutes) is simply a longer ending that doesn't change the finale from the finished film.

Review Copyright 2017 by Mike Long