Director Peter Chelsom’s 2017 interplanetary adventure film occupies the space between interesting and boring. It’s way too long and talky for its own good, and some dialogue and scenes could just be cut, which could bring us an entirely better, faster paced, more involving movie.
Screenwriter Alan Loeb’s idea is alright, but there’s a script problem, with some drossy dialogue and dreary characters. And there’s also an acting problem, with the actors not properly fired up, or in some cases too fired up.
Asa Butterfield probably comes off best as Gardner Elliot, the gangly 16-year-old kid in the middle of it, the first human born on Mars. His mom was on the first mission to colonize Mars, but soon after landing dies from complications while giving birth. Gardner reaches 16 having only met 14 people in his weird upbringing that leaves him super brainy.
Eagerly grabbing his chance to go to planet Earth, he arrives to find he literally (and metaphorically) has a heart to big to survive here. He looks up an orphan teenage a street-smart Colorado girl he’s found on inter-planetary on-line – Britt Robertson plays Tulsa stridently when she’s supposed to be cute and appealing. They start a fine romance, and whiz off to try to find the boy’s long-lost dad.
Gary Oldman seems miscast as the NASA space project controller, Nathaniel Shepherd. With all his shouting and carrying on, he doesn’t bring much authority and conviction to the star role. Carla Gugino is quite annoying as the boy’s surrogate mother, Kendra Wyndham. When Nathaniel and Kendra discover that Gardner’s organs can’t withstand Earth’s atmosphere, they set out with a team to find him, but Gardner and Tulsa escape.
There are aspects of the film that are likeable, entertaining and touching, but not enough of them to make for a satisfying or enjoyable two hours. There are way too many faults and flaws, and the idea’s potential is not realised. File under D for disappointment.
© Derek Winnert 2017 Movie Review
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