THE WANDERING EARTH (流浪地球) (NETFLIX) (2019)
SYNOPSIS: The Wandering Earth tells the story of a distant future in which the sun is about to expand into a red giant and devour the Earth, prompting mankind to make an audacious attempt to save planet. The multi-generational heroes build ten-thousand stellar engines in an effort to propel Planet Earth out the solar system, in the hope of finding a new celestial home. During the 2,500 year-long journey, a group of daring heroes emerge to defend human civilization from unexpected dangers and new enemies, and to ensure the survival of humanity in this age of the wandering Earth.
The Wandering Earth easily beat out Stephen Chow’s The New King of Comedy and Jackie Chan’s The Knight of Shadows when it started screening in China during the Lunar New Year period. In fact, it just concluded its theatrical on May 6, nearly three months after it was first screened making it the second highest grossing movie as at now.
In the near future where the sun is dying and our mother earth is freezing, all surviving humans are forced to live underground instead on the surface. Led by the United Earth Government (so don’t worry about propaganda and politics), the only solution is to propel the planet away from harm by giant rocket thrusters. But the solution it seems can only last a mere 17 years before disaster decides to strike again as due to a gravitational pull, earth is going to be soon destroy by Jupiter.
The only help earth can get is from a young man named Liu Qi, her adopted sister Duoduo, Qi’s estranged father, Liu Peiqiang who is an astronaut stationed in a remote space station and a small team of rescue soldiers.
Based on a novel by Chinese writer Liu Cixin and adapted to the screen by no less than six writers, The Wandering Earth is an astounding piece of work directed by the lesser known Frank Gwo. While the plotting might resemble some of Hollywood’s disaster flicks liked Armageddon, The Day After Tomorrow and the aesthetics of Edge of Tomorrow and Geostorm, the first major commercial sci-fi flick from China is not going to disappoint fans of the sci-fi and disaster genre.
For one, the movie moves at a breakneck pace which might result in the audiences having an issue digesting all the details and information coming your way. But Gwo has a way of cushioning the effect that is to fill every sequence with marvelous CG effects that you probably forgot to pay attention to what the characters are saying anyway. Of course, we meant it to be a good thing because the special and visual effects are really that spectacular and top notch that watching it in IMAX might deliver a far better experience.
The only glaring flaw is the relationship between Liu and Senior Liu which can be a bit sketchy and the various onscreen characters pretty much forgettable. Probably action star Wu Jing is enlisted for his star power and ex-funny man Ng Man-Tat puts in a commendable dramatic performance as Liu’s maternal grandpa.
For a Chinese sci-fi movie that excel in all technical aspects, promotes heroism, hope and saving the earth, it’s a pity that The Wandering Earth wasn’t brought in to theaters locally. Solid entertainment and totally engaging for two hours, we highly recommend watching this on Netflix.
Review by Linus Tee