Director: Peter Chelsom.
Serendipity director Peter Chelsom, gives us what I can only best describe as an adolescent sci-fi love story that instantly reminded me of the '84 classic, Starman. The first official Martian, Gardner, wants to get down and mingle with his fellow Earthlings, mostly in search of his Earth family with the help of his longest-distant-relationship-ever, Tulsa.
It's hard to pin a genre to this film, as it seems to try and be many very actually committing to any of them. Yes, it's a romance, a science fiction piece thrown in with some action and drama which could have some audiences leaving the screen undecided. It's key element is the relationship between Gardner and Tulsa but it gets sidetracked along the way for dramatic effect.
Asa Butterfield plays Gardner, the firstborn on Mars who grows up there, in secret, under the watchful eye of a private corporation that inadvertently put him there. Obviously incredibly curious about Earth and it's inhabitants, Tulsa, being the one in particular, he hatches a plan to escape his Martian home and visit Earth in a bid to find his family and meet Tulsa in person.
Being born of Mars has its disadvantages on Earth, mostly as a result of the differences in gravity that puts him at a great risk being here on Earth, so with the help of his disbelieving crush, they set off on a road trip of discovery to hopefully find his family. We see him struggle to interact with his unknown world which can be overwhelming for him but the chemistry between Tulsa and himself keeps him bolted to the ground.
Britt Robertson plays Tulsa, who is an incredibly strong, independent character who is like a Sarah Connor minus a few years. Even sharing that cynic, angry perspective of the rest of the human race which has been raised into her since childhood going from foster care to foster care.
It's not totally about how he sees and experiences Earth for the first time. It's more about his honestly and this feelings for his earthly pen pal, but it's quite one sided, and even though romance obviously blossoms and that he's incredibly inquisitive about everything around him, there lacks a real knowledgable interest in Tulsa, but I forget, they have been Skype buddies for years so her past can be quickly explained in a dossier snippet.
While there is nothing overly spectacularly visual in the film, it certainly makes do as the story is kind of central to the pair of young lovers and that the the budget was possibly blown on getting the actors and supporting cast of Gary Oldman and Carla Gugino who are both good. Has there ever been a time Gary Oldman hasn't delivered?
There's some great scripting here, but is also very clichéd which makes the film rather predictable, but in a few scenes. There's some great shots and it's captured well but I feel they've tried too hard resulting it it feeling incomplete, not rushed or poorly edited but missing bits from an already lengthy runtime, not that it drags.
Fortunately, it uses the working formula of having a great score and a matching soundtrack with tracks from Crystal Fighters, BØRNS and James Bay. What lacks in the soundtrack is made up with Andrew Lockington's score which and a gently style with hints of what Thomas Newman might compose.
It's better than a lot of the romantic, teenage mush that's been played to us over the recent years and I actually I found it extremely touching, for my own personal reasons. Mindless, good entertainment that should please most without high expectations.
Running Time: 8
The Cast: 7
Job Description: 7
The Extra Bonus Point: 0