When I saw the NYTimes article about how Wandering Earth was doing so incredibly well at the box office, my curiosity piqued and I had to see it for myself! Luckily there were some movie theaters showing the film here in NYC, so I was able to go see this space epic on its initial run in theaters (in Chinese with English subtitles).
A topline description courtesy of IMDB:
The sun was dying out, people all around the world built giant planet
thrusters to move Earth out of its orbit and to sail Earth to a new star
system. Yet the 2500 years journey came with unexpected dangers, and in
order to save humanity, a group of young people in this age of a
wandering Earth came out boldly and fought hard for everyone's survival.
While this is accurate, the film is focused on the family of one specific astronaut, Liu Peiqiang, who joins the international space station team to help guide the "Wandering Earth" from afar. The "Wandering Earth" idea in and of itself is wondrous - a globe covered in superhuge engines that run on crushed earth ore, powering the planet to a new solar system. Humanity has retreated to the safety of underground cities to avoid the subzero temperatures of the planet as it moves as a spaceship with thrusters to its new home.
Separated from his children, our hero Liu hopes to be reunited with them now that his 17 year tour of duty is up - only to find that Earth has drifted too close to Jupiter's orbit, and now is perilously close to destruction. His family on Earth becomes a crucial part of the rescue effort - with billions around the world asking the question "is it too late?"
The visuals are stunning: you forget you're watching CG or practical FX at times. My favorite performance by far was the character Han Ziang (aka the grandfather in our hero Liu's family) - his character really stood out to me. Now that Netflix has acquired "Wandering Earth," I'm looking forward to seeing what other people think of this sweeping space epic. It's an especially exciting development for science fiction writers and fans to think of the possibilities around more ideas being realized onscreen.