In the year 20whatever, the sun is going nova, and you know what that means!
No, seriously, remember when the earth was going to blow up, so we had to put all the people on spaceships and go to another planet but we didn’t tell the dumb people bec—
OK, shamelessly cribbing Steve Martin over. So, in the not-to-distant future, the sun’s going supernova, so the world decides to attach giant engines to the planet to push it out of orbit and into a new system (Alpha Centauri, I think) a few light years over. An advance ship is sent to clear the way containing our hero’s father, and his subsequent absence becomes a point of bitterness for the hero (who is, like, five, when this prologue occurs) fifteen years later.
Half the planet is dead by this point, and the rest is living underground in a dystopic nonsense world that looks like a movie representation of Hong Kong, with the hero grabbing his sister and a tractor-truck of some kind that he plans to use to escape to…well, I’m not sure where, frankly, given the earth’s surface is frozen and the underground cities fairly well controlled—though actually remarkably lax given the circumstances.
Before comeuppance has a chance to, uh, come-up, the earth flies into range of Jupiter. This is a big, though known, hazard since the slightest miscalculation means that Jupiter will just slurp up the earth’s atmosphere (at best) or possibly the whole planet (at worst). I’m not going to spoil it, but there are some interesting twists and turns here, with the main story arc being the reconciliation between the hero and absentee his father, as they work together to literally save the planet.
It’s corny, hokey and preposterous, but it’s fun and it has heart. At 2:05, it doesn’t waste much time. The strong arc, as noted, is between father and son, with a little bit of time for grandfather and little sister. There’s no love interest. There is a nice bit that we see in the best movies where anyone with screen time is given some chance to demonstrate character. All different nationalities have a chance to show their best and worst, with cowards and heroes along the way.
It’s very good natured. And if you think, as some of you do, that it’s propaganda for a repressive Chinese government, I have to say that every Chinese movie we’ve seen is less anti-America than your average American film.
The CGI is a little dodgy in parts though, as is typical, it generally reads well enough so that you don’t care about the literal realism. Some of the lighting in the dark, frozen outer world is not as sharp as I’d have liked. But overall The Boy and I enjoyed it quite a bit, as did The Boy’s Girl.
The closing titles are cute. It starts with words on a page and I’m thinking “I don’t get it.” Then the earth is traveling through the words on the page and I’m thinking “I’ll still don’t get it.” Then the earth sails through a book and the credits read “Based on the novel by…” and I thought “OHHHHH!” So this was apparently a popular Chinese book. (Update: Nope, just a short story but…ok, it’s still a cool credits scene.) Currently airing on Netflix, so you don’t have to venture out to Monterey Park, as we did.