The young adult romance genre has been places and chalked up a number of thrilling adventures but never has it breached the final frontier — even with its widened net of time travel, futuristic dystopia or animalistic humanity. This one does. So, while you may not look for faults in the stars you most certainly will find them in the planets — Mars in particular.
Giving the ‘Men are from Mars’ belief a fictional construct, this film has its young protagonist Gardner (Asa Butterfield), a typical 16-year-old nerdy teen, who spends his days tinkering with robots, rebooting Wings of Desire and giving the slip to his temporary minders, as a born and brought-up resident of the Mars. The lonely young lad has been DM-ing with a young female from mother planet Earth — Boulder and Colorado. Tulsa (Britt Robertson), is a troubled teen, who feels herself a misfit, having been bounced around foster homes in her growing up years. She also has a motorcycle that comes in handy for the road-trip in search of his father. And her foster father, a perennial drunk, also happens to have a plane that comes in use when they need a means to escape from their pursuers. So convenience is the mother of invention I guess. And as you go along for the ride (going from Mars to Earth and back) things get a little twisted and bizarre.
Writers Allan Loeb, Peter Chelsom and Tinker Lindsay fashion a script that confounds both imagination and science while taking us on a journey beyond earth and back. Gardner, all-too-conveniently, gets a reprieve to visit earth and just as easily manages to slip out of confinement to meet up with his pal, Tulsa, before embarking on the journey to unravel the mystery of his origins.
The trip may seem a little unreasonable given the time span, distance and technological advancements available to his pursuers but the payoff is smoothly rendered. Right from the word go, you feel for these kindred spirits. Their vulnerabilities and awkwardness only make them more endearing to the audience. So, in spite of going to unbelievable lengths to raise the level of challenges that the young couple must go through, it’s quite easy to root for them.
Carla Gugino as the temporary guardian of the young boy on Mars is quite efficient, whipping up a steady stream of underplayed emotion to keep us affected and interested. Gary Oldman as the Richard Branson like Billionaire funding the Mars colony expansion is flamboyant enough. But ultimately it’s Asa Butterfield and Britt Robertson who make it so affectingly emotional.
This one has the affect to play havoc with your emotions — even though it’s forged mainly on tender, loving and picturesque clichés.