The Wandering Earth – 2019

Director Frant Gwo
Screenplay Gong Ge’er, Yan Dongxu, Frant Gwo, Ye Junce, Yang Zhixue, Wu Yi, Ye Ruchang based on the book by Liu Cixin
Starring Qu Chuxiao, Li Guangjie, Ng Man-tat, Zhao Jinmai, Wu Jing, Qu Jingjing

The premise to The Wandering Earth is simply astonishing. It’s 2061, our sun is dying and as a result the earth’s rotation stops. After discovering the planet will be engulfed by the exploding sun, the planet unites as one government and concocts a plan to create a series of jet engines on one side of the planet, then take off, heading towards the nearest acceptable star.

Other factors in the planet’s changing atmosphere are considered. Most of civilization lives deep within the earth and only work outside creating fuel for the massive engines.

Got all of that? I probably missed a thing or two, but it’s alright. We don’t need to know how the intricate details of how we’re being saved. By the end of the film, the script will dictate all the stuff that was working must break and then be turned into something different. Most everyone who gets through act one should be fine.

The thing that starts the breaking is the gravitational pull of Jupiter. Turns out the paths of the two planets are going to converge after passing too close looking for a “gravity assist.” Earth doesn’t stand a chance now, apparently.

Liu Peiqiang (Jing) is the father of Liu Qui (Chuxiao). Peiqiang has been on a space station in front of the planet doing the navigating for the planet. Seeing the path of the planet has taken a turn for the worse, The artificial intelligence running the station decides to abandon home and let it burn. Peiqiang breaks out of hibernation and rights the course of the station to see if he can help.

Back on Earth, Qui is joined by his adopted sister DuoDuo (Jinmai) are caught up in the drama outside the safety of their inner core home. They were out for a joyride on Grandpa’s (Man-tat) work vehicle. They are all arrested and when things went to hell, they escaped, only to have their vehicle requisitioned for service by Captain Wang Lei (Guangjie) and his team. They move around the planet from station to station hatching plans and when those plans fail, getting pissed and hatching more plans.

This film is beautiful to look at. The effects have a pristine quality that look amazing, even if you know it’s mostly bunk. The story is essentially the same as Armageddon, even if the dialogue (even in the broken English version) is better than Bay’s film. The science might make sense to somebody, just not me. The producers consulted the Chinese Academy of Sciences, though what questions they asked is not immediately clear. I’d like to think I know at least as much as the average college graduate about the physical sciences, but they lost me when the Earth stopped rotating.

The Wandering Earth is enjoyable, if for no other reason than the soberly heroic characters outnumber the goofballs by a considerable margin. If you want to see a film that looks incredible with no real connection to reality, you could do worse.

(*** out of *****)

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