'The Wandering Earth' Had Me Lost at Times

I finally watched The Wandering Earth, China’s 2019 science fiction blockbuster, now streaming on Netflix. The special effects were amazing, and the movie involved truly epic and innovative ideas.

Everything was done on a grand scale. And the action was nonstop.

However, so much was happening that I found the movie a little hard to follow. The fact that I had to read subtitles probably didn’t help. I also had a problem with the main characters. They weren’t fleshed out very well. I didn’t find them particularly relatable, or memorable.

Photo: Netflix.com
The movie’s basic premise is that the solar system is disintegrating (the sun is expanding and about to go supernova). Earth needs to find a new star system in order to survive. The countries of the world band together under the aegis of the United Earth Government. The joint aim is to migrate the planet to Alpha Centauri, a journey that will take 2,500 years.

Trouble starts when Jupiter experiences a gravitational spike that pulls Earth towards it. The resultant earthquakes disrupt the thrusters that are propelling Earth to Alpha Centauri. The two planets are now in danger of colliding.

As the main characters rush to save the Earth, they are put through so much peril that it was hard to care after a while. The movie would have been better had the filmmakers spent more time on the people and allowed us to more fully understand their motivations.

For example, I never quite got why Liu Qi, the protagonist, was so angry with his father. The anger seemed misplaced given that his father was undertaking important work on behalf of human survival. We are only shown the reason three-quarters into the movie. And it wasn’t particularly compelling.

I was also confused about Liu Qi’s sister. It wasn’t clear who she was until half the movie was over.

Maybe I should have read the book (written by Cixin Liu) first.


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