TL;DR – While frustratingly slow to build, I must say that it captured me in the end.
Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene
Disclosure – I paid to see this film.
The Wandering Earth II Review –
Back in 2019, this fascinating film slipped onto the scene and fascinated me. The Wandering Earth was one of the most unique scenarios I have ever seen put to film, and a movie with some of the most frustrating characters put to screen. It was this juxtaposition that both delighted and annoyed me. However, we now have a second bite at the pie, and it is time to see if they have learned from the issues of the last film.
So to set the scene, tragedy is brewing on Earth as it is clear that the Sun has prematurely entered its final phase and will soon expand to engulf the planet in the next 100 years. The United Earth Government was formed to find a solution with some form of Digital Life and The Moving Mountain Project being proposed. Time is of the essence as the globe slowly descends into chaos. In Libreville, Gabon, a test engine and space elevator is the first step towards The Moving Mountain Project, but this means it is at a critical phase, and if you could disrupt it at the source, then the whole thing could come crumbling down.
For better or worse, the general narrative feels less like a continuous story and more like a series of vignettes that come together in the conclusion. Because of this, we get big swings in tone that sometimes feel like whiplash. Jumping from subtle political manipulations to a delightful meet-cute and then to a seismic action sequence. All of this charts the years from 2044 to the flyby of Jupiter and the struggle to get people to work towards a goal that will not happen until the future. This is an odd choice, and it can be a slog to get through at times, but it is worth it by the end. It also has to contend with being a prequel when we know the outcome, but it handles that quite well.
One of the biggest complaints I had about the first film was that they filled it with just the most unlikable characters I have encountered. In the second, they kind of overcorrected in that most of them are … well, sorry, they are dull when they are not almost slapstick. Dull can be a problem, but here it kind of works. It is almost like they are cliff faces standing resolute in the coming storm. This is important because it creates the foundation for the third act’s emotional payoff, which got me.
Often disaster films appear to be global events, but the global nature is more lip service to justify destroying key monuments. Okay, and yes, to be fair, there is a little bit of that in this film. However, while it clearly has a Chinese focus, I was impressed with how it felt like a global threat being explored across the planet. The space elevator in Gabon, the headquarters in New York, and an internet centre in Beijing are just some of the many locations we visit in this film. Also, we see viewpoints from across the globe, even from places that many people might not be that familiar with, like the Faroe Islands. This feeds into the action in the third act, making those emotional moments hit a little bit harder.
While it was a marked improvement on the first film in almost every way, some issues still held it back. From a production side of things, I can tell you that the English subtitles were wrong and badly wrong in places. I am unsure if that extends to the many other languages in this film, but I have my concerns. Some moments were so clearly dubbed that it was frankly distracting. Also, it did feel like that bit off a bit more than they could chew with the themes and topics they wanted to explore, but I would rather someone would give a big swing and miss than play it safe and be boring. Finally, I said that all the characters were at least likeable, but that was a lie. There is one dude, the chief controller, and every time he spoke, it was like a boxing announcer from the 1980s somehow stumbled into the production, and I desperately wanted him to go away.
In the end, do we recommend The Wandering Earth II? Yes, I think we would. It is a bit of an odd duck sometimes, and it takes a very long time to get going. But I must admit that when they wanted those emotions to hit, I felt it. If you liked The Wandering Earth II, we would recommend to you Greenland.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
Have you watched The Wandering Earth II?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of The Wandering Earth II
Directed by – Frant Gwo
Screenplay by – Frant Gwo & Gong Ge’er
Based on – The Wandering Earth by Liu Cixin
Music by – Roc Chen
Cinematography by – Michael Liu
Edited by – Ye Ruchang & Yan Tingting
Production/Distribution Companies – China Film Group Corporation, Guo Fan Culture and Media, GIFilm Beijing Studio Co., Ltd., Beijing Dengfeng International Culture Communication Co., Ltd., CFC Pictures Limited & CMC Pictures.
Starring – Andy Lau, Wu Jing, Li Xuejian, Sha Yi, Ning Li, Wang Zhi & Zhu Yanmanzi
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; Germany: na; New Zealand: na; United Kingdom: 12A; United States: na