So this is where we are…
China’s second highest-grossing film of all time, 2019’s third highest-grossing film worldwide, the second highest-grossing non-English film of all time, and one of the top 20 highest-grossing science fiction films of all time….
Is based off a idea that when Superman had it, Batman rejected it out of hand two seconds later.
Superman: Maybe I could move the Earth out of the Way
Batman: If we had a week I couldn’t list all the reasons that won’t work.
(Justice League: Doom 2012.)
Because that’s the plot of this film. Based on a novel which apparently went the Starship Troopers route as aside from the title they appear to be completely separate things sharing only the loosest of themes and possibly a few characters- I would’t know.
But, comparing this to Starship Troopers doesn’t help anybody (aside from reminding me that I am in dire need of a Verhoeven binge) as Starship Troopers was made in the corrupt, decadent, debauched, Capitalistic west. Whereas The Wandering Earth was made in the glorious peoples Republic of China and as such operates under some relatively minor restrictions which are including but not limited to the following:
1)Defamation of revolutionary leaders, heroes, People’s Liberation Army, armed police, national security apparatus, public security apparatus, and the judiciary branch, etc;
P2) ornography and cheap taste: prostitution, rape, masturbation, incest, homosexuality, hentai, sexual assault, sexual violence, extramarital affairs, one-night stand, sexual freedom, wife swapping, prolonged or provocative scenes of physical intimacy;
3) Feudalistic ideology which is pseudoscience: spirit possession, reincarnation, witchcraft, etc.
4) Showcase excessive horror, psychological pain, hysteria, causing strong stimulation to senses and emotions with uncomfortable pictures, lines, music, and sound effects, etc.
And since a lot of big films these days need Chinese box office Renminbi to turn a profit that means hey have to abide by these rules as well. And you wondered why blockbusters have gotten so bland and simplistic in recent years
But back to The Wandering Earth and we discover that the sun was dying out so we built a giant bomb and sent Cilian Murphy to go and debate God with a man made out of pepperoni for some reason.
Oh no, sorry, that was Sunshine- Danny Boyle’s attempt to do the same. I think. That film was weird.
Here, the solution is to instead build 10’000 giant thrusters on the Earth and then push it to a new solar system. A journey which will take 2’500 years, kill everything on the surface which means that giant citys have been built underground to ensure that humanity/morlocks will survive, all the while following… I think one of the space ships from 2001 A Space Odyssey.
As you could imagine with such a simple plan, things go south, a lot of VERY SERIOUS PEOPLE along with an irritating ‘comic’ relief seem to be in a competition to see who can have the noblest death scene set off to try and put things right. By journeying through a load of CGI with a McGuffin in the back of their truck.
And that’s one of the main issues with this film i that there’s no antagonist. No sign of anyone asking if this massive sacrifice is worth it or even a movement to turn the Earth around. Which I gather was a massive part of the book. Instead it’s simply nature as the main villain of the piece which is a shame as without other points of view or even someone to oppose, the films slightly dull. All the characters are generic one dimensional slabs of cardboard who’s ultimate fate you can guess at without much trouble, the CGI ranges from looking like a PS3 cut-scene to slightly above average and it’s all very dull to look at.
Which is a shame as I do like the idea of a film or TV series about people of a long journey who will die and be forgotten long before the mission is over. The idea of people working towards a goal that they will never see and might be nothing more than a pipe dream to that humanity can go on eking out an existence underground for a few more years is a fascinating idea.
But everyone here is so determined, so committed to this plan that I wound up playing a game of who’s the next to die? Which is never a good sign.
The Wandering Earth is a film that I think would be better as a TV Series. There is a lot of potential in this idea but it needed more interesting, developed, conflicted characters, something to oppose other than the weather and to be honest some more money spent on the special effects.
Which is a shame because seeing films from a different cultures point of view is fascinating but this is just a slightly dull, generic film which wastes a very interesting if slightly far-fetched premise.
My Score- If Nothing Else