• by Wes Singleton

The Space Between Us, C-

Rated PG-13, 121 minutes

The lame, hokey new science-fiction romance "The Space Between Us" is a handsome yet cheesy attempt to cross "The Fault in Our Stars" and "The Martian" that'll have you looking at your watch and rolling your eyes in disbelief more than once.

Gardner Elliot ("Hugo's Asa Butterfield), the first human born on Mars, begins an online

friendship with Tulsa (Britt Robertson of "The Longest Ride"), a teen in Colorado. On his maiden voyage to Earth, the 16-year-old finally gets to experience all the joys and

wonders of a world he could only read about. Problems arise when scientists discover

that Gardner's organs can't withstand the atmosphere. United with Tulsa and on the run, the interplanetary visitor races against time to unravel the mysteries of how he came to be, and where he belongs in the universe.

Directed by by Peter Chesholm ("Hector and the Search for Happiness") and written by

Allan Loeb (of the recent disaster "Collateral Beauty"), "The Space Between Us" is the latest melodramatic cheesefest aimed at the teen/young adult set, and may earn a few bucks based on that alone. Handsomely filmed and peppered with a few "awwwl"

moments, its game, talented cast can't do much with the silly, slugggish story that's as lanky and wobbly as its lead character.

Butterfield, as the awkward teen, and Robertson, given one of the worst screen names of recent memory - Tulsa - and sorry to those who live there, are a bland, handsome pairing; it starts out with an intriguing idea then loses some footing once it gets to Earth and it becomes part teen romance, part road trip, which really hurts the

movie, not to mention it's filled with what seems like a lot of unnecessary, dumb filler.

They're trailed by Carla Gugino, as a fellow astronaut who's been a de facto mother to

Gardner, and the always watchable Oldman, who's solid but seems to be acting in another film altogether. The contrived, rushed last act has many more unbelievable plot twists, even for a science-fiction film, particularly the awful way in which it treats Oldman's character.

"The Space Between Us" could've been a thought-provoking statement on space travel, but it ends up some being some overly sentimental, teen romance gunk to appeal to the masses, and on that level, it's a disappointment that's bigger than that crater on the side of Mars.

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