Stop reading this and go see Wandering Earth. Right now.
What, you want to know more? You want me to convince you? Not playing in your area and you want to torture yourself by continuing to read this? Fine.
Why do we go to the movies? We go to escape our world, to become engrossed in stories that stretch our minds, our hearts, our spirits. We long to be entertained, but more than that we want to experience a world we never knew existed. Wandering Earth does that in a way I had forgotten existed.
I’m not going to spoil the movie. The premise is this: in the future, Earth is threatened by the Sun’s expansion that will wipe out the solar system. To save the planet, the Earth unifies to build over 10,000 engines that will propel the Earth out of orbit and send it on a several thousand year journey to a distant star where it will park in orbit and can hopefully survive. It is the largest endeavor mankind has every taken, and that’s the first few minutes. The movie mostly takes place 17 years after leaving its orbit when the Earth must embark on a tricky maneuver to use Jupiter’s gravity and slingshot out of the solar system. It does not go as planned.
I’m not going to get into the hard science of it or the math or all the nitpicky details. Although the premise of engines stopping the Earth rotation and blasting us on a journey is both ludicrous and totally realistic in how it is handled. There is no sugar coating the danger or devastation the only hope for survival brings.
Instead, I’m just going to focus on the moment I walked out of the movie theater. I blinked and looked around at a world still in orbit around our Sun. A world facing its own problems, but nothing like the problems I just saw a collective planet face. I had been transported somewhere else, and now I was back. Isn’t that what movies are supposed to do?
Maybe it was the rapid fire Mandarin dialogue (along with English subtitles that occasionally miss a word or misspell another word) or the “otherness” of seeing another culture’s view of science fiction that helped me enter this new world. Chinese audiences may feel the same way when they see the American equivalent of Bruce Willis blasting off to drill into an asteroid while Aerosmith screams a power ballad. Or maybe it was some of the moments I’m not used to–like when a character faces mortal peril there’s an extended slow motion scene and we get to hear their innermost thoughts. I don’t know what caused it, but I was in this world and it was glorious.
The movie is breaking records in China and Netflix has already acquired the global distribution rights. But this movie deserves to be seen on the big screen with the amazing visuals, quirky characters, and danger around every corner slamming right into you. Go see it. Then come back into this world and let me know what you thought. Because to me, this is a perfect science fiction film.
Score: 10 out of 10 bowls of scallion noodles.
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