Prepare for the feel good movie of the…month. Too early to say year and its only one out this month. Also prepare to hear why it’s not really good.
The first thing I noticed about this film is that it spends so much time setting up the premise that I spent what felt like an hour waiting for the movie to actually get to the plot. We spend the prologue (not even the first act!) just watching events unfold, not even feeling a connection with any of the characters because we know from the trailers and the poster that they’re not the characters we’re supposed to be paying attention to. The only one that’s even worth our attention is Gary Oldman playing visionary behind the endeavor to live on Mars and the man who decides that Asa Butterfield’s birth on Mars must be kept a secret from the entire world.
Then the movie suddenly jumps forward 16 years, leaving us all confused as to why? Whatever happened to the age old maxim “show, don’t tell?” You tell us how Asa’s character is trapped on Mars and wants to actually go to Earth, but you don’t ever show us why? What was growing up on Mars surrounded by scientists like for him? How did he handle scientists coming and going through his life as he is trapped on Mars? These were the questions that I felt needed to be answered in order for us to fully understand and appreciate this character, who is played well by Asa but the audience never really gets a chance to empathize with his struggle and root for him as our protagonist.
This movie is an example of a movie that really should have given us a different protagonist because Britt Robertson as the rebellious and quick-witted Tulsa, Asa’s pen-pal on Earth, proved to be a much more interesting character than Asa’s. In fact, I believe that she is character that actually has an arc with a beginning, a middle and an end. Asa’s arc sort of ends once he actually gets to Earth. And once Asa and Britt actually meet, that’s the moment that Britt’s character starts to change and grow. It was sad to see the most interesting character in the movie to regulated to the love-interest character, when it’s obvious that the story could have been written to be about her struggle to trust someone again.
In fact, the movie for me didn’t start until the second act, which is never a good sign. Seeing Asa interact with the world with wonder and a lust to experience everything there was to experience was actually quite enjoyable. I wished there were more moments where Asa jumps in surprise as he beholds a horse for the first time or experiences rain.
By the end of the movie, though, I was left feeling perplexed. That’s how they decided to end the movie? Like that? I won’t spoil but it left me feeling almost betrayed but mostly confused. There were so many plot holes in this movie and emotions weren’t strong enough for me to ignore them. The premise was interesting enough and there are elements in this movie that, by themselves, I could enjoy; but there was nothing in this movie that fulfilled me or made me feel like I didn’t just waste my time.