Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Wandering Earth / 流浪地球 - Movie Review

The Movie: The Wandering Earth / 流浪地球

The Director: Frant Gwo

The Cast: Qu Chuxiao, Li Guangjie, Ng Man-tat, Zhao Jinmai, Wu Jing, Qu Jingjing

The Story: When the sun begins to die out, humanity decides to move the earth to another solar system.

The Review:
After watching the trailer for this movie, I knew I had to see it. Big, epic science fiction story from China with over the top special effects and a ridiculous premise? Of course I'm in! Chinese cinema has really been stepping up its game the last couple years with some pretty grand ideas and a scale that has reached Hollywood level status.

After watching this movie, I was so happy that it had turned out to be exactly what I was hoping for and even exceeded those expectations. Based off of a novel by acclaimed science fiction author Cixin Liu, director Frant Gwo has created a non stop, high energy thrill ride that is more Michael Bay than Christopher Nolan and reaches higher even than anything Roland Emmerich has ever put out. There are bits and piece of each of those directors' science fiction films threaded through the movie's DNA, most prominent of which would have to be Armageddon, 2012, and Interstellar.

The common thread between those three films is the global threat that would spell doom for the entire planet if humanity isn't able to step up and save the day. The creative team then pulls the massive scale story telling of Interstellar, the world falling apart danger of 2012, and the patriotic bravado of Armageddon and fuses it all together with total disregard for actual science and, in a lot of cases, logic or common sense. That being said, I didn't care about any of those shortcomings or the absurdity it all added up to because the whole thing was just so much fun to watch.

One of the things I really liked was how the plot just pushes right through without much i the way of exposition or character development. The audience is introduced to the primary cast member and given a run down of what is happening and then it's off to the races and a non stop series of action set pieces and high stakes, nail biting intensity. To keep things going in a relatively cohesive and straight line, the story focuses on a family who find themselves tasked with helping to eventually save the entire planet even as they struggle with their own personal difficulties.

The rest of the cast gets inserted into the story as needed without spending time on back story for each one which was nice to see because seriously, just get to the good stuff where things blow up and people barely escape certain doom. Most of the people anyway. Speaking of things blowing up and certain doom, there was so much for the special effects team to create, I was shocked to see that the budget for the movie is estimated to only have been in the $50 million  range. Sure, some of the shots looked like cheap CGI and the entire production is maybe a couple steps behind what franchises like Marvel and Star Wars are putting out but it was still pretty impressive overall.

The Verdict:
The Wandering Earth is an epic scale science fiction adventure that holds nothing back as it reaches for the stars and box office success. The whole thing is a big basket of eye candy that you won't be able to take your eyes off of and the story, while kind of ridiculous, is presented in a way that is just too much fun to resist. This is a prime example of why we go to movie theaters with big screens and fancy sound systems.

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