Writer and director David Twohy is best-known for his series of films about Riddick, Vin Diesel’s intergalactic convict/antihero/badarse. Twohy still hasn’t left that world behind yet, but he’s also got a new sci-fi project without the character on his slate: Ice Moon Rising, a co-production between China and the US. As such, the movie is also about a China-US co-production of another sort: a joint mission to Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. According to Variety, former NASA scientists are working to devise the look of the film, which will aim to be “very real and not overly futuristic”.
That’s not totally unusual (see: The Martian). More notable is the fact that Ice Moon Rising will specifically recognise China’s contribution to space exploration, and will have a lead character that is a Chinese-born but US-raised woman. Plus, it sounds like it will have an intriguing plot beyond just the science fiction elements. According to the Los Angeles Times:
The story centres on a mission to Europa, a moon of Jupiter that is covered in ice and may have an ocean underneath that could support life. Astronauts on a U.S. mission to the Jovian moon encounter an alien life form, and a male astronaut is infected with an untreatable ailment.
His wife and fellow crewmate promises to go back to Earth and retrieve a remedy, vowing to return within three years. She leaves her mate in a state of suspended animation. But bureaucratic issues and other problems delay her return for 24 years.
When she finally comes back, on a China-backed mission, the couple must sort out a variety of issues stemming from their long separation — namely that she’s given birth to their daughter and started a new relationship in the intervening quarter of a century. “It’s a story with complex character dynamics,” Twohy said.
Given Twohy’s earlier work, look for the visuals to be quite memorable, too. Producers are hoping to begin filming the project in China later this year.