(This is The Wandering Earth film review, which is a 2019 Chinese sci-fi film that is roughly based on a novel by award-winning author Liu Ci Xin)
Never has anyone expected that 2019 would be a year when the epic Chinese sci-fi film, The Wandering Earth [流浪地球], be released. Unlike any of those older crappier China-made movies, this one seems to attract immediate attention upon the release of the trailer. Furthermore, with its premise based on the same novella by Liu Ci Xin(刘慈欣), an author who won both prestigious awards of Hugo and Locus.
While the film is helmed by director Frant Gwo(郭帆) and veteran actors Wu Jing（吴京) and Ng Man Tat（吴孟达), there are other lesser known stars as well such as Qu Chu Xiao（屈楚萧）and Zhao Jin Mai（赵今麦）. Without further ado, let’s delve into The Wandering Earth film review below!
Set in a far future, our sun has started to age and is in the process of turning into a red giant, aka danger to Earth as it sucks the nearby planets nearer to it. The world becomes united and forms a United Government to initiate “Project Wandering Earth”. A Chinese astronaut, Liu Peiqiang (played by Wu Jing) is tasked to go to a Space Station where they will help to navigate Earth along its journey, leaving his only son, Liu Qi, on Earth.
17 years later, when the Earth gets too close to Jupiter, the gravitational pull of the latter threatens to decimate Earth itself. Now, the whole world must consolidate its power to prevent such a situation from happening. But can they succeed?
The Wandering Earth Film Review
The premise is kind of a breath of fresh air from the typical Scifi films and especially differ quite a lot from Hollywood offerings. Normally in American films, the settings are mostly about how America saves the day or choosing to leave the planet in search of better places in the universe.
This film, however, is the opposite: We carry the Earth to the better place itself. Perhaps it is because of the Chinese mentality, you never abandon your own home in search of better places? Though, the premise is not really realistic as what they do seem almost physically impossible in real life. Regardless, I like the overall story of saving the Earth and moving together with it to a safer place. It has certainly become its unique selling point as a creative input to the science fiction films.
Pacing & CGI
Pacing wise, it is mostly flowing smoothly from one scene to another. The beginning does not take its time explaining the history or introducing the characters. In fact, it seems to want to do all these quickly so as to let us experience the tension in the middle and end portions. There’s a good flow between the quiet scenes, epic scenes, and the tearful scenes.
“the film’s CGI is probably THE BEST from a Chinese made movie!”
CGI is one of the best, if not THE BEST I have seen from a Chinese movie. No longer are the 3D effects or backgrounds look so fake or cringe. In fact, they are approaching the Hollywood level, and would definitely catch up within the next few years. The story world, space, and technology are rendered convincingly and epic-ly, showing that this is the true big budget movie where the money is used rightly.
Now we are into the area where there is a mixed reception. Let’s start with the bad ones. Firstly, there is almost no character growth. Or should I say there is no proper character growth? Even for the main character Liu Qi, not much attention is put into the scenes where we see him suffer and then grow up and become the hero etc.
It’s more like this movie has no concept of a main character itself. The film puts in an almost equal amount of attention to many other minor or supporting characters. This makes it hard for me to really empathise with the main characters and the important characters. It feels like I am watching a movie where things just happen and you don’t feel much for the characters’ pain or suffering or joy.
Also, the dialogues between characters can seem a bit weird or cringy. Sometimes the tone can be comedic while in a very serious situation. They also use some cliché lines which have been rehearsed in other similar movies.
“this movie has no concept of a main character itself, every human survivor is a main character in its own right.”
However, this, in turn, becomes its strengths. As the film is heavily centered on humanity, it aims to promote every single human survivor as a hero in their own rights. It is a commendable effort and we see this in almost every scene – different races are shown, different languages are spoken and how everyone works together to save planet Earth. This especially makes the film unique in its own right by promoting unity among mankind. Other films rarely do this sort of thing, especially from Hollywood ones.
Wow, the soundtrack is actually pretty epic and fit the whole atmosphere and story. Furthermore, it is still able to add some touch of Chinese-ness, albeit subtle, that sounds different from western ones. They single-handedly raise the quality and tension of the apocalypse scenes and stay memorable even until the end. I must applaud the filmmakers for putting in as much effort into the soundtrack as they did for the other sectors.