The teen sci-fi romance “The Space Between Us” has an intriguing premise and good intentions. However, with its plot holes and eye-rolling circumstances, it could have been called “The Space Between its Ears.” Asa Butterfield plays Gardner, the first human born on Mars, the secret love child of an astronaut who dies in childbirth. After 16 years of being raised on the Red Planet, Gardner yearns to travel to Earth, find his father and meet a girl with whom he’s developed an Internet friendship. The scenes on Mars are fairly involving, but when Gardner finally rockets to Earth, the movie almost crashes and burns. The fine cast includes Gary Oldman, Carla Gugino and Britt Robertson and the production values are solid. But this kind of sentimentality requires deft touch of someone like Steven Spielberg to pull it off, and filmmaker Peter Chelsom isn’t quite there. As is, “The Space Between Us” is a sappy sci-fi soap opera.
Acclaimed Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar returns with his 20th feature film, “Julieta,” a beautifully produced drama about a woman’s troubled relationship with her daughter. In a series of flashbacks, we learn why they’re estranged as Almodovar slowly fills in the plot gaps. Emma Suarez and Adriana Ugarte play Julieta at different stages of her life. All of the classic Almodovar elements are present, including the bold colors, melodramatic flourishes and unnecessary sex scenes that give the movie its “R” rating. But like most Almodovar films, “Julieta” is smart, involving and elegant.
Also opening this week, Robert De Niro, Danny DeVito and Leslie Mann star in “The Comedian,” about an aging comic struggling to reinvent himself. It’s directed by Taylor Hackford of “An Officer and a Gentleman” fame. “Rings” the third entry in the horror franchise about haunted videotapes that takes place 13 years after the events of the first film. Turns out, there’s a ‘video within the video!’