The Space Between Us (2017)

The Space between us

The chemistry between Butterfield and Robertson is rather good…

Asa Butterfield and Britt Robertson have rather great chemistry in The Space Between Us, but even that chemistry is bombarded by a very unstable script that does not know what the audience wants to see.

You would be hard pressed to find anyone who does not like an actor like Gary Oldman, but his scenes in the beginning go far too long. The movie tells the story of how Gardener Elliot (Butterfield), the first person born on Mars, comes to visit Earth. I can understand needing to know a little of how he got to be born on Mars, but the movie spends far too much time telling us about his mother (Janet Montgomery) leads the first mission to make a colony on Mars known as East Texas. His birth is supposed to be a secret, but he has managed to make a friendship with a girl on earth named Tulsa (Robertson), who has been in and out of foster care. Gardner mentions he is confided to home, due to an illness (which is technically true, since the gravity of Earth would mess up with his genetics).

After Gardner gets to Earth, and manages to make it to Tulsa (through uninteresting scenarios), we finally get to something worth watching. I am always a fan of good romance films (and am a proud sucker for “puppy love”), and the chemistry that Butterfield and Robertson has is the highlight of the film. Both work off each other with the skills of talented thespians (though both will get better with more work in the years to come). Neither are (in a sense) highly attractive, but are (oddly enough) much more down to earth.

Sadly, the other characters (including a mother like character played by Carla Gugino) reenter the film and bring the story down. I kept wishing the movie would have had a point of view, either from Gardner or Tulsa. Instead, we see them as outsiders.

Parents, there is some sensuality in the film (both leads are sleeping together in sleeping bags), and some swearing. Still, I would think the PG-13 rating is ok for those in Middle School and above.

Now a memo to my young readers. Please don’t be mad if I seem unaware of what a good romance movie can be. I want to say that you as young people can find far much better movies than this one. Films like Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, City Lights, Before Sunrise, It Happened One Night, Singin’ in the RainMoonrise Kingdom, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Princess Bride, A Walk to Remember, and even the High School Musical movies (though I would guess you have seen them).

Those were some I admit I was thinking of wanting to re watch while watching The Space Between Us.

 

Overall: Two Stars **

 

 

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008)

Bruno meets The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Bruno meets The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

It took me a while to write this review.

That is not to say the film is bad. It is a great film. Like Sophie’s Choice or Schindler’s List (though not as great as those are), The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is one of the hardest films I have ever watched.

The film centers on a German family of four: The parents (David Thewlis and Vera Farmiga), their daughter Maria (Cara Horgan) and their 8-year-old son Bruno (Asa Butterfield, showing his acting talent even before he was the title character in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo). They have to move to the country side, where Bruno will be away from his friends, assigned to a tutor (who teaches what nonsense Hitler wanted taught), and nothing to do but read his adventure books (His sister, though caring, begins to shy away from childhood).

All this changes after two things he notices. The first is when he notices a servant being treated oddly in his house hold. The second is after he goes exploring one day (while his mother is not looking), and meets a boy named Leon (Zac Mattoon O’Brien). As the audience, we know what Leon’s situation is, and it is heartbreaking. The true success of the film is that Bruno begins to learn the true situation he is in during the course of the film, and brings about an ending I would never dream of ruining. All I will say is I was pausing the film many times to make sure I was emotionally ready for the film’s ending. I can’t remember the last time I did that.

Parents, the film is obviously not for the faint of heart. The PG-13 rating is rightly asserted here: there is not much violence as you may think, only thematic material (and some swearing). If you have a middle schooler who is learning about this horrible time in human history, this may be a good film to start with. It may not be what actually happened, but it does show that even in the worst of times, friendship and love is never forgotten.

Overall: Four Stars