“The Space Between Us”, in this sweet sci-fi fable by Peter Chelsom (story was a group effort of Stewart Schill, Richard Barton Lewis and Allan Loeb) is probably about 15 light-minutes, the based on the time it would take for light (or an Internet message in a chat room) to get from Earth to Mars – it can vary a lot with orbital positions.
In fact, a similar concept motivates one of my own screenplay scripts, “69 Minutes to Titan”, about which I’ve actually gotten one call.
That’s the one serious flaw in the setup of this rooting-interest film. While still on Mars, Gardner Elliot (Asa Butterfield), now 16, and the first human born on Mars, chats with Tulsa (Britt Robertson) on Earth. No problem with the idea that Mark Zuckerberg (rather than running for president) has set up Facebook on Mars; but it would have to follow the laws of physics, which would slow down communications.
The movie is a bit hokey as it set up the situation. But astronaut Sarah Elliott (Janet Montgomery) had a hidden fling before leaving for Mars, and experiences her first “morning sickness” on the voyage. They really have a first rate clinic on Mars already, but she dies in giving birth, maybe because of low gravity. Gardner will be raised by colleagues, including at least one woman who has said she had never intended to have or raise children. Point well taken.
It’s a good question how Gardner grows up not only brilliant (with hacking computers and driving Mars rovers without permission) but sweet and socially well adjusted (even as a robot is his best friend – he tells the robot that it doesn’t have emotions). He’s learned morality, like his dad had once said, “bravery is about not knowing what to be afraid of, but courage happens when you do know.” Of course, he wants to move to Earth to have a real young adult life and he doesn’t want to ghost his Facebook girlfriend Later, before tracking down Tulsa in a California public high school by pretending to be an AP chemistry student (he knows the material well enough to place in college), be befriends a homeless man and then a dog, getting all these creatures to trust him. Kept in quarantine to protect himself, he escapes and plays “Catch Me If You Can” like a younger DiCaprio.
But the medical issues come back. Before coming to Earth, Gardner had a procedure to strengthen his bones with carbon nanotubes (I think Jack Andraka – who inspired his own depiction in a space suit as “Nanoman” on Twitter, had suggested this idea in a tweet once) But once on Earth, despite running around a lot, his heart enlarged because of having to adjust to Earth’s mass – gravity, making him weigh 2-1/2 times as much as he did on Mars. The doctors want a heart transplant.
The last twenty minutes give us real cliff-hanging, including a weightlessness ride (which rests his heart) before home-sweet-home. Mars will need more babies.
The movie does not look at the question of indigenous life on Mars (neither did “The Martian” with Matt Damon). However, a recent series on NatGeo “Mars” (reviewed on one of my legacy blogs) indeed does so.
I have to come back to Gardner’s charismatic presence. Gardner is so compelling with his smarts that he seems to be a reincarnation. His demeanor and speech style resemble the real life Taylor Wilson (the book “The Boy Who Played With Fusion”),, now 22, who invented a fusion reactor in his garage. (Or, Taylor could have acted in this role with the same effect.)
I could offer one other comparison to the idea of a teenager born on another planet: Clark Kent in the WB series “Smallville“. You wonder what Clark’s legal rights would be: unlike Garnder, he is a real alien, but still a person.
Wikipedia link for sources of methane on Mars.
|Name:||“The Space Between Us”|
|Director, writer:||Peter Chelsom|
|When and how viewed:||Regal Ballston Quarter, 2017/2/9, afternoon, small audience|
(Posted: Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 8:30 PM EST)