Over the last decade, Chinese cinema has made giant leaps and bounds in terms of quality and sophistication of their films, especially in sci-fi genre. The Wandering Earth and this prequel, The Wandering Earth II, is a significant milestone. As a prequel, it has more depth in the story than the first, though the premise behind the main conflict is a bit shallow to be believed, as if "digital life" and survival of the planet are mutually exclusive. Pizza OR pepperoni? What kind of a decision is that? You still need the pizza, with or without the pepperoni.
But like its predecessor, the problem is pacing. The story is grand, an epic tale of an audacious plan to save mankind and Earth from the dying sun. But the pacing is so ridiculously fast, that it's difficult to enjoy and appreciate it. It's so focused on the crisis from all angles that it feels like every scene and every shot is less than two seconds long. For subtitle readers, it's even worse to follow. On top of that, there is visual information overload, with names flashing on the screen. There is so much going on, you will be afraid to blink and miss an important plot point.
And then there are the annoying tropes. I think this is the third or fourth Chinese film and TV show I've recently watched that has a shrill little girl/daughter yelling and crying "Baba! Baba!" to stoke our sympathy and emotional attachment to. And, where do they find these foreign actors?!? They cannot act and they are loud. Perhaps this is how they want to portray westerners, but there are plenty of international films shown in China--they have to know how bad these actors are, right? With so many actors (waiters) in Hollywood looking for work, you'd think it'd be easy to find more passable supporting cast.
Despite all this, you're not going to watch The Wandering Earth series for the acting--this is a CGI spectacle. It's gorgeous, and if you treat it like cut scenes from a triple-A video game, you'll enjoy it a lot.
The Wandering Earth II
Action / Adventure / Drama / Sci-Fi
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2 hr 53 min