This review was originally published in February 2019, when the film was released in China, and in a limited theatrical run in America. It has been updated to reflect the film’s release on Netflix.

We’re living through a fascinating era of rapid change for the blockbuster movie model. America producers, eager to get their $200 million movies into the lucrative Chinese market, are increasingly looking for Chinese production partners, shooting in Chinese locations, and adding China-friendly characters and plotlines to American movies, even including extra scenes just for the Chinese cuts of films. But simultaneously, China and other countries are moving toward the blockbuster model themselves, creating homegrown films that don’t need to involve American partners at all.

And just as American films attempt to find paydays in foreign markets, foreign blockbusters are coming to America. The Wandering Earth, China’s hugely successful big-budget science fiction thriller, quietly slipped onto Netflix over the weekend, after a limited American theatrical run a few months ago. It shows a new side of Chinese filmmaking — one focused on futuristic spectacles rather than China’s traditionally grand, massive historical epics. At the same time, The Wandering Earth feels like a throwback to a few familiar eras of American filmmaking. While the film’s cast, setting, and tone are all Chinese, longtime science fiction fans are going to see a lot on the screen that reminds them of other movies, for better or worse.

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