Wednesday, September 2, 2020

The Wandering Earth (2019)

Streaming Services: Netflix
Movie Name/Year:  The Wandering Earth (2019)
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Length:  125 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production/Distribution: Beijing Dengfeng International Culture Communications Company, Base FX, Beijing Culture, China Film Company Limited, China Film Group Corporation, Tencent Pictures, United Entertainment Partners, CMC Pictures Holdings, China Film Company Limited, United Entertainment Partners, Beijing Culture, Kidari Entertainment, Netflix
Director: Frant Gwo
Writers: Gong Geer, Junce Ye, Yan Dongxu, Frant Gwo, Yang Zhixue, Jingjing Shen, Cixin Liu, Ruchang Ye
Actors: Jing Wu, Chuxiao Qu, Guangjie Li, Man-Tat Ng, Jin Mai Jaho, Mike Kai Sui, Hongchen Li, Jingjing Qu, Yichi Zhang, Haoyu Yang, Zhigang Jiang, Huan Zhang, Jiayin Lei, Arkadiy Sharogradskiy, Hao Ning, Yi Yang

Blurb from IMDb: As the sun is dying out, people all around the world build giant planet thrusters to move Earth out of its orbit and sail Earth to a new star system. Yet the 2500-year journey comes with unexpected dangers, and in order to save humanity, a group of young people in this age of a wandering Earth fight hard for the survival of humankind.

Cat’s Point of View:

When The Wandering Earth appeared on Netflix, I was instantly drawn to the premise of the movie. As some of you may know, I’m a huge fan of science fiction. I love a good interstellar tale, and good ones are sometimes hard to come by. I will admit that I put off watching this film for a while – mostly because I was assuming that I’d be watching with subtitles. Foreign language films just require a bit of extra focus that I don’t always have. (Thanks ADHD.) On a whim, recently, I poked at it and found that the movie was dubbed in English! Now I feel silly for waiting so long, but I digress…

Needless to say, I dove right in.

My first comment in the wake of experiencing this movie is that too many critics aren’t giving The Wandering Earth a fair chance. I’ve seen comments that the film is too graphic heavy, and others simply write it off as Chinese propaganda. Really? For the love of Bob, did they even watch it?

Sure, this movie relies heavily on CGI, but it’s really the only way this story would be feasible. There’s little that could be done in practical effects that would convey the massive undertaking of scale. It would have looked cheap and hokey if they had tried. This was also China’s first foray into this particular genre, and it was a gamble. In fact, mid-production, one of the primary investors for the film backed out. One of the leads, Wu Jing (Badges of Fury, Wolf Warrior, Looking Up), who plays the space-station-bound father, stepped up and agreed to waive his pay for the movie, and even further invested in it to ensure the production could be completed and reach screens. I’d say the risk was worth it and has been well rewarded.

The visuals are simply stunning. I believed every moment of the nuanced and rich environments – from the underground cities to the frozen wastelands of the surface, and even the vastness of space. The planets were executed well, and I even felt a sense of dread as I watched the Earth’s precious atmosphere trailing away through the dark vacuum. Even the tech looked real and something that might actually be attainable with the capabilities of human engineering.

You’ve got to give credit to the author of the novella this movie is based on. Turning the actual Earth into a spaceship to avoid casualties because of economic castes is a brilliant concept. Sure, the science isn’t exactly feasible – but that’s why this is fiction, right? There are enough details that make it easy to suspend disbelief for the duration of the film. It’s a fantastical tale, not a how-to procedural after all. (For anyone interested in how the actual science stacks up to the movie’s premise, I found a neat and informative video on YouTube you can watch here.)

Let’s put politics aside, shall we? This wasn’t an attempt to sway the world towards the Chinese political agenda. The film centered on Chinese characters because that is the setting and perspective of the story. Period. To say that this is propaganda is taking it a bit too far – and far too seriously. Some of the reviews I’ve seen have had me seeing red – but not because of the flag behind this movie. It’s because I’m angry that everything has to be politically driven these days.

Back to the movie.

In spite of the fact that you really don’t get a moment to catch your breath once events start taking off, the story still allowed me to invest in these characters. I cared about their plight. I laughed at the occasional levity woven into the fight-for-survival tale. I mourned their losses. There was a good balance here of both small scale moments and massive ones.

I would likely watch The Wandering Earth again with my daughter; and I anticipate I’ll find new details to enjoy the second time around. Fans of space-oriented sci-fi should give it a chance. As you can tell, I’m already over the moon about it. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 69%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 48%
Metascore – 57%
Metacritic User Score – 5.5/10
IMDB Score – 6.0/10

Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5

Movie Trailer:

1 comment:

  1. this sounds like a movie I would watch. Thanks for the heads up!