Review: 'The Space Between Us' is cheesy and awkward

Marcus Goh
The Space Between Us (Golden Village Pictures)

Secret ending? No.

Running time: 121 minutes (~2 hours)

The Space Between Us (Golden Village Pictures)

“The Space Between Us” is a science fiction romance.

The film tells the tale of a boy born on Mars who comes to Earth to find love and his identity. Unfortunately, the physiological limitations of his birth means that staying Earth will ultimately prove lethal to him.

“The Space Between Us” is directed by Peter Chelsom with a screenplay and story by Allan Loeb. Stewart Schill and Richard Barton Lewis are credited for the story too. It stars Gary Oldman (Nathaniel Shepherd), Asa Butterfield (Gardner Elliot), Carla Gugino (Kendra Wyndham), Britt Robertson (Tulsa), B.D. Wong (Tom Chen), and Janet Montgomery (Sarah Elliot). It is rated PG.

The Space Between Us (Golden Village Pictures)

“The Space Between Us” is a story that sounds sweet and romantic on paper. Unfortunately, the actual plot is rather trite and boring. It’s a genuine story, in that it’s devoid of pretension and the need to appear more insightful than it really is. The themes are also clearly spelt out for the audience, just so you understand the significance of the title and the actions of the characters and the setting. The execution, however, is where the film stumbles off into the distance.

The Space Between Us (Golden Village Pictures)


Gardner’s messianic treatment

Gardner (Asa Butterfield) is given a somewhat messianic status with his birth. As the only person born on Mars, he’s special, but he’s unable to come back to Earth for various reasons, both medical and political. Yet he’s the key to the redemption of several other characters, and his journey to Earth feels like a tremendous sacrifice since biologically, he cannot stay indefinitely on Earth. As such, his birth and his arrival on Earth are treated like monumental events upon which the fate of humanity rests.

The Space Between Us (Golden Village Pictures)

Technological fantasies on Mars

The sci-fi elements are mainly confined to Mars, where the technology seems decades ahead of Earth. They have voice recognition that actually works, along with high-tech looking rooms in a giant self-sustaining space station. While we might not actually have all that technology yet, it serves to show how different Gardner is from the rest of the people born on Earth.

The Space Between Us (Golden Village Pictures)


Cheesy moments

One of the emotional high points sees a couple reaching the throes of passion in a bed that’s literally under the stars. Then you have lines like “what do you like most about Earth?” which is repeated ad infinitum. These over the top moments serve to undermine the actual relationship itself. While Asa Butterfield and Britt Robertson are fairly compatible as on onscreen couple, the actual components that make up their courtship are too corny to be believable, especially in a sci-fi context.

The Space Between Us (Golden Village Pictures)

Sci-fi and romance elements don’t blend well together

The aforementioned cheesy romance keeps getting in the way of the science fiction element and vice versa. Yet the director insists on mixing these two immiscible aspects together, resulting in a film that lurches painfully from one genre to another. It’s not that science fiction and romance can’t mix, it’s that “The Space Between Us” isn’t able to put it together coherently.

The Space Between Us (Golden Village Pictures)

Several unexplained plot holes and motivations

The entire premise of the story is resolved in a quick few moments where the main cast gathers to witness the climactic reveal. The issue is that the problem could have been resolved early in the film, and the motivation for not resolving it is never clearly explained. Gardener’s inability to stay on Earth is also inconsistently explained, depending on which part of the film that you’re in.

The Space Between Us (Golden Village Pictures)

“The Space Between Us” is cheesy and awkward.

Should you watch this if it’s free? Okay.

Should you watch this at weekday movie ticket prices? If you like Britt Robertson or Asa Butterfield.

Score: 2.5/5

“The Space Between Us” opens in cinemas:
– 16 February, 2017 (Singapore)
– 1 February, 2017 (Philippines) 

The Space Between Us (Golden Village Pictures)

Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. He Tweets/Instagrams at Optimarcus and writes at The views expressed are his own.