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  Wandering Earth, The Drive A Planet, Sure, Whatever
Year: 2019
Director: Gwo Frant
Stars: Wu Jing, Qu Chuxiao, Li Guangjie, Ng Man-Tat, Jaho Jin Mai, Mike Kai Sui, Li Hongchen, Qu Jingjing, Zhang Yichi, Yang Haoyu, Jiang Zhigang, Zhang Huan, Lei Jaiyin, Arkadiy Sharogradskiy, Ning Hao, Yang Yi
Genre: Action, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: Seventeen years ago, scientists on Earth realised that the Sun was expanding, and within three hundred years would have swallowed the entire solar system. As we didn't have that kind of time to play with, a solution had to be found, and as there were not enough resources to build sufficient spaceships to send humanity among the stars, our planet was kitted out with huge engines and sent on a journey away from the Sun and towards deep space, where we would travel to the nearest star and set up life once more. But as a spacecraft sent in advance to Jupiter has found, now there are problems that the fast-approaching world did not anticipate, and the surviving masses panic...

Right, you may be able to see an issue with scientific logic with that premise, in fact you may have a wealth of issues with that premise, the reason being that it's completely ridiculous, like something out of a fifties science fiction B-movie that existed in a society when nobody cared about the rigours of facts since most of those pictures were fodder for kids. But in the twenty-first century, there was this thing called the internet where it was easy to check the science in a science fiction effort and decide for yourself if this was lacking. Actually, if you had any kind of education at all, well, almost any, then you would be picking The Wandering Earth apart throughout the two hours it lasted.

There had been a television programme similar to this, back in the seventies, called Space: 1999, only in that it was not the Earth flitting around the universe, it was the Moon, and even Gerry and Silvia Anderson did not dumb down as far as positing it as an actual vehicle that could be steered at that size. Surprisingly, this film was based on a Hugo Award-winning novel by Liu Cixin so you had to assume it was a shade smarter than the nonsense this invited its audience to swallow, yet even so it was reported this Chinese Government-backed blockbuster toned down anything that might hint at authorities who may not have the populace's best interests at heart - not even American villains.

In fact, not any Americans at all, there was a Russian, but that was about as far West as they were willing to go. The reason this appeared to have done as well as it had in Asia (hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of box office) was down to the presence of Wu Jing, whose previous major success, the ultra-patriotic Wolf Warrior II, had been almost as huge there, and he had become the face of official Chinese Communist Party movie entertainment. It may have been refreshing - at a stretch - to see that it wasn't just Hollywood presenting their nation (of America) as the saviour of the world, as had occurred countless times before, but two wrongs didn't make a right, and if there was a global crisis (and indeed there was one on the way) it would take a lot more than one nation, no matter how big, to solve the problems.

Essentially, The Wandering Earth was Armageddon mixed with 2001: A Space Odyssey, and if you could envisage that as not a great match, then you didn't know the half of it. The Jupiter element was not the sole borrowing from Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, as there was a turncoat killer computer too which Wu Jing had to combat both in space and inside the craft, and Armageddon was the basis for the human drama and excusing such macho bullshit as a frustrated taikonaut opening fire on the entire planet of Jupiter with a heavy duty machine gun (that'll learn it!). Wu's screen kids were back on a frozen Earth trying to start the engines again to combat the gravity from the gas giant which was drawing them in (so much for scientists), and we were served up a hefty dose of director Gwo Frant and his endeavours to match Michael Bay, minus the drooling leer. Back in the sixties, Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 had the titular baddies try to hollow out the Earth for use as a spaceship, which was ridiculous there too, but you could excuse silliness fifty years before this. Here there was no excuse, it was expensive looking, but nothing else satisfied. Music by Hans Zimmer - sorry, Roc Chen.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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