'The Space Between Us' is the Mars romantic comedy you've been waiting for
It's the ultimate long-distance relationship when a boy born on Mars falls in love with a girl born on Earth.
If "The Martian" had you on the edge of your seat, get ready for "The Space Between Us" to move you to tears.
The new teen romantic science fiction adventure is helmed by Israeli producer Sasha Harari, who had a successful career in computer technology before entering the movie business. The film sidesteps the survival-thriller themes of previous Mars dramas in favor of another question: What would life be like for someone born on another planet?
This question is seemingly harder to answer than we might imagine. As you may have heard from SpaceX founder Elon Musk, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, officials at NASA or even legendary astronaut Buzz Aldrin, humanity has big plans to colonize Mars in the 21st century. While the technical details of how to make this happen are being ironed out, less known are the emotional and physical implications for those who actually choose to live on the red planet.
"The Space Between Us" tackles this question in a clever way by opening the film with a female astronaut who embarks on a mission to colonize Mars while unknowingly pregnant. After she passes away during childbirth due to complications from low gravity, her son Gardner is raised with the rest of the crew on the red planet. After 16 years growing up in the confines of a Martian colony one airlock away from oblivion, all he wants to do is return to Earth. Further complicating matters, he's fallen in love online with a teenage earthling named Tulsa, played by American actress Britt Robertson, who has absolutely no idea that he's from Mars.
“Ultimately, it’s all about Gardner finding his humanity and what it means to be human, through quite literally experiencing Earth for the first time,” British actor Asa Butterfield told Entertainment Weekly.
Gardner eventually gets his wish to travel to Earth, escapes his handlers to meet up with Tulsa, and embarks on a eye-opening adventure to search for his unknown father. All the while, he's viewing the world through the eyes of an alien visitor.
“It’s hard to put yourself in that kind of position because we [as humans] are so experienced in the world, and to completely strip all that back and be absolutely in awe at everything you see – a tree, a doorman – everything’s interesting,” Butterfield told Hypable.
While this sounds like your typical tween romance flick with a sci-fi beat, American screenwriter Allan Loeb baked in one very real twist: because he was born and raised on Mars, Gardner's organs aren't able to handle Earth's gravity. Unless he return to Mars, there's the very real possibility he will die.
"Mars has about 38 percent as much gravity as the Earth," Medical Daily reports. "This means that a man weighing 220 pounds on Earth would only weigh 80 pounds." As "The Space Between Us" shows, not only does Mars' environment have physical consequences for Earth-born humans, but the opposite is true for Mars-born humans. In essence, our plans to one day colonize the red planet may effectively split humanity into two sub-species.
Quite the dramatic, heavy twist for a science fiction romantic comedy, right?
“He’s an alien, and she’s an alien, and this is the journey of the story,” co-producer Richard Lewis added. “Watching these two characters connect, and the disconnects, the misunderstandings, and then ultimately they have a connection.”
How this story of star-crossed lovers ends will be revealed when "The Space Between Us" hits theaters on Feb. 3.
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