‘The Wandering Earth’ Movie Review
The Wandering Earth is a Chinese science fiction blockbuster directed by Frant Gwo, starring Qu Chuxiao, Li Guangjie, Ng Man-tat, Zhao Jinmai, Wu Jing and Qu Jingjing. The film is gaining traction in the US due to its recent release on Netflix, and it is easy to see why. The Wandering Earth, a film based on a novel of the same name by Liu Cixin, is visually brilliant. The CGI is well done, the set pieces are beautiful, the acting is serviceable, and the story is just abstract enough to be believable.
In The Wandering Earth, the planet is in danger due to the transition of our solar system’s sun into a red giant. Several plans were considered, but it is decided that the only way to save the Earth is to relocate the entire planet to the Alpha Centauri system, several thousand light years away. The migration is planned to take thousands of years, and requires the planet to band together under the “United Earth Government.” Under this new leadership, people build “earth engines” and underground cities that allow the people of Earth to survive on the planet for the thousands of years it is going to take to move the planet.
The story follows a brother and sister, Liu Qi brings and Han Duoduo, during the first years of the planet relocation. The Earth is moving away from the expanding sun when a gravitational spike on Jupiter pulls it off course. The people of Earth must work together to find a way to avert the demise of the planet.
The great things about this movie are the visuals. On par with some of the great CGI US releases like Avatar and Transformers, The Wandering Earth is a visual masterpiece. The setting is massive, and they pull it off brilliantly. As China’s first true science fiction blockbuster, it is easy to see how this film plays so well to American audiences.
The characters are quite one dimensional, but it is easy to assume some of that is due to the translation. The film is dubbed in English, and it does a fine job, but if you also enjoy subtitles, you will want to turn them off for this one. Liu and Han, played by Chuxiao and Jinmai respectively, have a typical brother and sister dynamic in a very atypical situation and environment. The attempt to establish comic relief falls short on most occasions, and deep family drama misses the mark just due to the sheer size and scope of the premise. Overall, the characters advance the story and are serviceable, but they do not add or subtract to why the film is so successful.
The Wandering Earth is a must-watch for science fiction fans. The story makes you think, the visuals make you smile, and the payoff is spectacular. It is easy to see why the film grossed $700 million dollars worldwide in the box office, and why it will continue to see success on Netflix.
Check out the trailer below.