The Wandering Earth film

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This is about the Chinese movie, which got brought over to Netflix a few months ago. A while before that, I read the short story by Liu Cixin, but only remembered the premise, so i can’t say with confident accuracy what’s different… but it’s got to be very different.

It starts out with the revelation that the Earth is totally fucked not because of climate change, but because the sun is rapidly expanding. Faced with only 100 years before the sun engulfs the earth, all of humanity stops warring and builds ten thousand mountain-sized jet engines ON THE SURFACE OF THE EARTH but they’re not “jet engines” because they’re not on jets, they’re mountain-sized engines sticking out of the earth. So of course they’re called Earth Engines. Their purpose is to escape the exploding sun by PROPELLING THE EARTH THROUGH THE VASTNESS OF SPACE TO ANOTHER STAR SYSTEM. This makes for some FUCKING SICK visuals lol. I mean yeah we’ve all seen wandering humans on a fleet looking for their next home but Liu Cixin saw that and raised you THE ENTIRE FUCKING PLANET. And I didn’t bother spoiler-blurring that because it’s all in the first seconds of the movie. And it keeps going. There are crazy gravity swells, car chases, avalanches, betrayal, running from the authorities, a benevolent and helpful AI, a killer AI, and SETTING JUPITER ON FIRE. YES THEY SHOOT A HUGE ENGINE FLAME TO THE SURFACE OF JUPITER. They do this completely reasonable thing to explode a bunch of hydrogen and use that force to push themselves (where “themselves” is THE ENTIRE EARTH LOL) to avoid falling into Jupiter’s gravity well. JUPITER FUCK YEAH!!!

So I do recommend this movie, with some caveats, like how tf is it going to stay warm enough to sustain life, idk. If you wanna see some mindbending scifi shit with wholesome family melodrama then you’re in for a treat.

So yeah, about that wholesome family shit. They added “character development” that is all heavy-handed propaganda about how glorious working together is, because communism. Also it was surprisingly pro-Russia. We get a Russian buddy astronaut and everything. The comedic relief clown doofus is a half-white-Canadian and half-Chinese guy who everyone keeps calling a foreigner and he insists he’s Chinese. Interesting that he wasn’t like American or German or British or whatever Chinese people think of when they think of blond men. And the sinister robot speaks in English, a great choice.

I love “hard” scifi, I guess. I thought I didn’t, but I do. lol

Here’s something that really pissed me off. CW: a joke about consent. The cops stop their vehicle. The comedic relief character gets super scared and yells “the girl last night was voluntary, I swear!” (yes the subtitles say “was voluntary,” and I can only surmise that they fumbled this whole joke and concept.) The main characters say, dead serious, “they’re not here for you.” I didn’t catch (and wouldn’t have the vocabulary to grok) what they said in mandarin chinese but I mean this can only be a rape joke. “The girl from last night was participating of her own free will, I swear,” is basically what he said, which means she wasn’t, amd we’re all supposed to find this hilarious. This is a state-sactioned rape joke, and I am disappoint.

Trope bingo bingoes hard. The mom’s dead. The grandfather understands his son’s sacrifice; the teenaged grandson resents his father for leaving him. Also he’s a genius. That’s a phrase I do recognize when they say it: tian tsai. The younger adopted sister cries the whole time and is super annoying but gets to have the speech that inspires the whole world, except it’s about her crying about hope, so the men can do the real work. Typical, nothing I didn’t expect.

Being Chinese-American is weird. I have some insight into both cultures, but I’m an outsider in each. I guess that helps me stay critical of everything.