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The prequel to Wandering Earth (movie review here) won’t be lost to everyone. In the second movie, simply titled Wandering Earth 2, we see three tales unfold in this prequel. One concerns the geo-political wrangling required to get the Moving Mountain Project going. The second is about who are the pilots of the upgraded International Space Station which will help guide the planet’s sojourn into deep space. And last, dealing with the detractors who are resisting the locations where the rockets are built.
What this story lacks are original names given to these projects. It’s a minor quibble since like today’s studios who hide the name of the production while filming, nobody is supposed to figure the final title of the project. I enjoyed the first movie because it reminded me of other rescue humanity features. Plus, the theme of any Lunar New Year movie is to be positive during a difficult time. To save a planet requires food for thought, which this film offers plenty of!
Both productions of this franchise involve detonating something huge. Here, the plan is to explode a moon to help propel Earth into deep space. And since the lunar object is not hollow, the task won’t be easy. It’ll be required if the United Earth Government is to save the world and fly it to Alpha Centauri. Current astrophysics requires assisted gravity of other stellar objects to get to where a rocket ship wants to go, and to propel a planet is no different.
In some ways, this story takes on some passing familiarity with the prelude to the grander tale in Battlestar Galactica and Yamato (Known as Star Blazers in America). The fact we’re counting down to when the sun will expand and the moon will crash is nothing new. It gives viewers a lingering sense of urgency as various subplots unfold before facing Armageddon. One includes how Tu Hengyu (Andy Lau) lost his wife and young offspring in an automobile accident. He’s barely coping and prefers to hide in the lab, working on some project. Nobody is aware he managed to “save” his daughter. I won’t say how, but the existential crisis in this narrative kept me interested. To see his daughter scream and ask the dogmatic, “Where am I?” is a lot more scary than I realised because I know what’s going on. As for this scientist’s own fate, I want to see his story continue! What he has to face suggests there’s even greater terror afoot and it exists in both realities!
Together, they’re trying to solve a complex puzzle that the government thinks he’s doing alone. The girl doesn’t know she’s dead. However, something else exists in her digital world.
Elsewhere, Zhezhi Zhou (Li Xuejian) is attempting to convince his peers the Moving Mountain Project must be realised over the Digital Life one to prolong human existence. The latter has its proponents. But when there aren’t enough data centres to offer this service, that’s a problem. This governor has a lot to wrangle, and the Digital Life Project is the least of his worries.
In the meantime, Liu Peiqiang’s (Jing Wu) backstory is better realised, and we learn why he became a willing astronaut. His wife is dying of cancer, and his adolescent son, Qi (the star in the first film) is none the wiser to the global events that’s irradiating the world. We see his recruitment helps Liu’s family move underground to live out their remaining days while he tries to earn his wings so he can be one of the ISS pilots.
Although these separate stories combine into a massive run time for Wandering Earth 2, I was invested enough to follow it through. That’s because some governments turned apartheid. They are picking who to save. It’s the beginning of additional problems that are vaguely explored in the first film, which lacked the emotional toil that’s fleshed out here–especially when concerning Liu and Qi.
Overall, I really enjoyed this film far more than the first. With this blockbuster film now in theatres, it’s worth catching the spectacle on the big screen rather than at home on Netflix. By watching the pair together makes this narrative a load more comprehensible.
Also, I believe the greater concept is in the heart of this prequel. That involves developing humanity’s path to greatness, by showing we can be more than a type 1 civilization and be able to become a ghost in the shell. As for how successful Wandering Earth 2 is at evolving us, perhaps we all need to rewatch 2001: A Space Odyssey (or read the novel) to know what sometimes all it takes is a brilliant mind to show how we can be more than a sum of our parts.
4 Stars out of 5
Wandering Earth 2 International Trailer