The 2019 Chinese sci-fi epic, The Wandering Earth, takes place in the not-to-distant future. The sun is dying at an accelerated rate and will swallow the Earth within 100 years. The solution…equip the planet with thousands of rocket engines that will push it out of the solar system. The story itself begins several years into the journey.
Action packed, visually spectacular and conceptually outrageous, the movie was a blast…and a huge international hit. But as of this writing, there is still no physical release available on this side of the pond, which I suppose is fine if you have Netflix (for as long as they decide to make it available for streaming…which we all know isn’t a given).
I don’t know whether or not it’s a rights issue, but the inevitable sequel, The Wandering Earth II, is debuting on Blu-ray/DVD first. The good news is that seeing the first film isn’t necessary because this one is actually a prequel. In fact, it probably should have been the first movie in the franchise. Taking place over the course of 14 years, the film is essentially about the global effort - spearheaded by China - to save the world with the Moving Mountain Project, which involves the development of the engines that will theoretically move Earth out of harm’s way and propel it to the nearest neighboring star.
|Not all dishes are microwave safe.
More epic in both scope and length than the first film, The Wandering Earth II is also more narratively complex and somber in tone (though it still has its share of goofy moments). There’s also a greater emphasis on character development, especially Tun Hengyu, motivated by tragedy, and the main protagonist, astronaut Liu Peiqiang (Wu Jing). Their personal asides add additional poignancy to a story that’s already pretty ominous in terms of what’s at stake. At the same time, the film is exciting and tension-filled, even though we’re certain none of this is even remotely plausible.
The Wandering Earth II could’ve been even more suspenseful had it been released first (as a prequel, we’re already well-aware of the ultimate outcome). Still, it’s a ton of fast-paced fun - even at three hours - with engaging characters, an interesting story and epic scenes of destruction, punctuated by excellent special effects.