Pros: Hollywood scope; good special effects and equipment design Cons: Predictable and not the most original plot; disregard for the laws of physics; an overabundance of pathos and propaganda The Wandering Earth / “Wandering Earth”
Directed by Frant Gwo
Starring Qu Chu Xiao (Liu Qi), Li Guan Jie (Wang Lei), Ng Man Tat (Han Jiang), Zhao Jinmai (Han Duoduo), Arkady Sharogradsky (Makarov) and others.
Studio China Film Group Corporation
Year of release 2019
The vague “the other day” in the previous paragraph is not without reason. The film was scheduled to appear on the streaming service outside of China on April 30, 2019, then the release date was moved to May 6. However, the pirated version of the film appeared on torrents on April 30, and on the official Ukrainian Netflix account only on May 4. This release has English and Chinese audio tracks, and among the subtitles there are also Russian ones. In a word, the film is already available for viewing and we can discuss this Chinese phenomenon, which earned more money in its homeland than Avengers: Infinity War and Aquaman combined.
The Wandering Earth is based on the story of the same name by Chinese science fiction writer Liu Cixin, the author famous for the trilogy “Memory of Earth’s Past,” which includes the novels “The Three-Body Problem,” “The Dark Forest,” and “The Eternal Life of Death.” Liu Cixin is popular not only at home, but also abroad; the writer has collected a good collection of major genre awards – Nebula (2014), Hugo (2015) and Locus (2017). However, the plot of “The Wandering Earth” is far from original; to put it mildly, it repeats the plot of the novel “The Flight of the Earth” published back in 1960 by the French science fiction writer Francis Carsac. However, there were more than enough works dedicated to the transformation of an entire planet into a spaceship in the Golden Age of Science Fiction.
So, in the near future, our Sun will turn into a red giant and in a few decades should absorb the orbits of all the inner planets, including the Earth. Humanity, uniting the efforts of all countries, is launching the “Wandering Earth” project. His task is to turn our planet into a giant spaceship that will go to another star. To do this, the rotation of the Earth stops (most likely, already at this stage life on the planet would have been destroyed), huge shunting engines are built along the equator, and dozens of even larger propulsion engines are built on one of the hemispheres. Next to them are colossal underground shelters for the population. To give additional acceleration, the Earth must perform a gravitational maneuver near Jupiter (also a good way to blow the planet into pieces), but, of course, something goes wrong. The film The Wandering Earth is about people on Earth and on board a control ship flying in front of the planet trying to prevent an imminent disaster.
The Wandering Earth is Armageddon at maximum speed. Tons of pathos and propaganda of Chinese technical superiority, megatons of special effects, inspiring examples of heroic self-sacrifice and the most dramatized deaths. Finding fault with ignoring the basic laws of physics, an extremely primitive plot and mediocre acting in this case is simply stupid.
It’s even a shame that outside of China the film was only released on Netflix; such films are worth watching in 3D or IMAX. Whales frozen in ice, skyscrapers covered with hundreds of meters of snow, cyclopean cars and races on giant trucks. And, of course, Jupiter, tearing away the earth’s atmosphere. A little sloppy in places, but overall the special effects here are on par with Independence Day, plus the design of the space station, exoskeletons and huge trucks is really quite good.
Actually, that’s all you need to know about The Wandering Earth. This is a typical, fairly stupid science fiction disaster film in which Chinese astronauts, Chinese scientists, Chinese military men and Chinese schoolgirls (how could we not!) save humanity. A logical response to the dominance of the American heroic epic in cinema. Considering that the film was shot and produced by the state-owned China Film Group Corporation, the propaganda here is not at all accidental.
It is surprising that with a budget of about $50-60 million, Chinese filmmakers created a film that would have cost their American colleagues at least $150 million. Currently, The Wandering Earth is the third highest-grossing film of 2019, second only to Avengers: Endgame and Captain Marvel. Moreover, outside of China, the film was shown on a very small number of screens, we are not even talking about hundreds, but only dozens.
It’s funny, but the writers could easily turn The Wandering Earth into a long-running franchise. The Earth left the solar system and embarked on a 2,500-year flight to another star. Who knows what might happen on the wandering planet during this time.
Spectacular and stupid film, a worthy successor to “Armageddon”