Wandering Earth review

I don’t usually review movies. After seeing some of the online comments I decided ito put my dissenting voice into the mix. This was a big budget movie that came out in February 2019 and did very well in the Chinese box office. It’s also available in Netflix but I am not aware of major global cinematic release.

In a gist “wandering earth” is a movie about efforts to shift the earth through space, from our solar system to another star system in order to escape the sun going super nova. This is sci-fi so anything is possible! However this is where the sci-fi part ends, because focus of rest of the movie is decidedly on the humans and really earth takes a back seat.

It has mostly achieved the claim of being able to rival Hollywood movies in terms of CGI. Being a China-produced movie, it understandably plays on much of Chinese nationalist sentiments (main protagonist against all odds of being Chinese managed to achieve the impossible, or being the most persevered when everything seemed lost), Chinese settings etc. Its biggest limitation is in characterisations. The main protagonists are all emotionally-driven and makes self-centred driven decisions throughout the film. Some highlights.
– I don’t want to participate in your time-critical Earth/humanity-saving efforts because I am more concerned to get my grandpa/son/grandson to safety. It doesn’t really matter that there may not be a home to go back to if everything fails.
– A solider in a fit of rage destroys a device that can still be useful in saving Earth.
– One soldier has already died trying to save me, but I don’t care and still want more soldiers to risk their lives to go back to save my grandfather.
– At times the movie really tries too hard. For example last scene of having hundred(s) of people trying to push a ignition pin (“pin” is really an understatement because it’s gigantic) in place.

The ultimate sacrificial act really takes the cake. Some online commenters have tried to draw a parallel to Armageddon (or Deep Impact, Space Cowboys, etc)- another meteor-heading-to-earth and somehow an American crew miraculously pulled off the impossible by sacrificing themselves. Apart from the imminent danger to earth and the entire humanity and the hugely stacked odds, in my opinion that’s where the comparisons end. Firstly the protagonists in Armageddon took a gamble and sacrificed themselves since there appeared no other options. In “Wandering earth”, there was an alternative: leave Earth be, and move the remaining humans and human embryos onboard to hopefully find a new planet and and create a New Earth. The option in the movie was for the so-called selfless hero to single-handedly make the decision to sacrifice not only himself but also the rest of humanity so that he can take a gamble. In other words he made the minds up for rest of people on board the space station, that he/they should not go on living should the original Earth become lost. How. Very. Noble.

Overall, I think it’s an enjoyable sci-fi film with cool effects, but annoying characters. If you can get beyond that, then you may enjoy it.