‘The Martian’ meets ‘Room’ in this new Gary Oldman movie

Confession: I hadn”t heard anything about The Space Between Us before clicking on the trailer for it today. Watching it, seeing the trailers opening seconds show a crew of astronauts bound for Mars, I thought, “Oh man, these guys must hate that they”re releasing this in the shadow of The Martian.”

The rest of the trailer banished that thought completely.

Yes, The Space Between Us starts with scientists on Mars. But, despite one line in this preview that is the very three words of The Martian“s tagline (“Bring him home”), it looks like a totally different movie, one that may have more in common with Room than with Ridley Scott”s movie about the Red Planet. It looks like most of this will take place on Earth (and that doesnt mean at JPL).

The Space Between Us is about a boy named Gardner. On the space shuttle carrying the astronauts on the first mission to colonize Mars, it”s discovered after takeoff that one of them is pregnant. Gardner”s mother dies from complications giving birth to the first human born on Mars, never revealing who the father is. Growing up on the Red Planet, Gardner (Asa Butterfield) reaches age 16 having met only 14 people and not knowing much about Earth. Searching for clues about his father and the home planet he”s never known, he strikes up an online friendship with a girl in Colorado named Tulsa (Britt Robertson). When Gardner finally has the chance to go to Earth, he”s eager to find Tulsa and learn all he can about Earth.

Watch the trailer below:

I want to see more sci-fi films like this. It reminds me of TiMER, an excellent film that is, at its core, a rom-com but has a sci-fi element that makes its world different from our own reality in one key way. Space Between Us is a sci-fi film but looks to be a warm-hearted, grounded family dramedy at its core.

(It”s sci-fi as much as The Martian and Gravity are sci-fi – 'space adventure' is perhaps a more accurate term for movies that are very much based on the facts of what”s possible with today”s and tomorrow”s very likely space travel.)

And this movie looks good. Asa Butterfield looks like he”s grown as an actor since Ender”s Game, and he seems very well-suited to this role. (Admittedly, I never was going to totally accept an Ender that we didn”t get to see go to Battle School at age 6.) I”m sure he was cast in part for his looks (a boy who”s grown up without Earth”s gravity has got to have a thin frame), but it seems like he”s also got what it takes to play an endearingly awkward and inquisitive and bright 16-year-old and carry a movie that”s supposed to move us.

I love Gardner's reaction to seeing a horse for the first time in this. I look forward to watching this film and seeing our Earth through Gardner”s eyes. That sweet curiosity and naiveté should be on display plenty in the film judging from this great tweet from Butterfield:


Drew Goddard may be right – the Mars movie curse could finally be broken. (Mark Strong”s upcoming Approaching the Unknown will determine that too.)

Needless to say, this trailer has me on board. But I will be waiting for the fan-made trailer cut to Dave Matthews Band”s “The Space Between.”

The Space Between Us opens in theaters on Friday, August 19. It is directed by Peter Chelsom (Shall We Dance, Serendipity) and also stars Gary Oldman, Carla Gugino, and BD Wong.