Frant Gwo


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Frant Gwo
Frant Gwo
Frant Gwo

Liu Lang Di Qiu/ The Wandering Earth (2019), adapted from a sci-fi novel by Liu Cixin of 2000, is a mediocre imitation of Hollywood's apocalyptic sci-fi films with little or no credible "sci" and rather unimaginative "fi". It simple speculates on the success of similar blockbusters in the USA, such as Interstellar (2014) and The Martian (2015), and in Russia, such as Klim Shipenko's Salyut-7 (2017). The science is totally implausible (even if there was a way to send the Earth to another solar planet, what are the chances that the conditions would be exactly the conditions required for living beings to survive?) The plot is mostly a collage of all the stereotypes that cinemagoers have become accustomed to over decades of sci-fi movies. Some of the visual effects are a bit amateurish (it is not difficult to guess that sometimes we are looking at toys) and sometimes comically derivative of famous films (like MOSS the computer that is very similar to HAL of Kubrick's 2001 A Space Odyssey , made 50 years earlier, or the space station that is reminiscent of so many Star Wars-inspired galactic sagas, or the action in space that recalls Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity, or the icy landscape that is copied from Roland Emmerich's The Day After Tomorrow, in which climate change caused the entire planet to plunge into a new Ice Age). One can argue that the ambition of this film are bigger than of any previous film of the same kind. For example, there have been countless movies about galactic apocalypses, from When Worlds Collide (1951) to Michael Bay's Armageddon (1998), but certainly none aimed at sending the whole Earth into a cosmic journey. There have been desperate missions before, like The Core (2003), in which the heroes need to reach the center of the Earth to avoid that the planet stops spinning, but none that united the whole planet in a multi-generational project. The whole father-son relationship comes out as a bit comic, and the action does not build suspense precisely because it is so implausible (and because it sounds so familiar). All the commotion about the different scientific attempts to ignite Jupiter feels grotesquely amateurish (hopefully in the real world the human race would not depend on the inspiration of amateurs but on real scientists). Incidentally, humankind deserves to die if in the future the announcements about life and death of the entire planet will be delivered in the tone of train station's announcements. The only refreshing thing is that we finally see a film in which those who save the Earth are not from the USA. China has produced some of the best films of the last two decades. Hopefully this film doesn't mean that it has started to simply copy Hollywood's worst excesses.

An astronaut, Peiqiang, tells his boy Qi that he is about to leave for his most important mission and invites the boy to look at Jupiter. Peiqiang's father, a professional driver, becomes the new guardian of the boy, who already lost his mother. We are told that the Sun is about to explode and a United Earth Goverment has launched a project to send the Earth into the orbit of another star located four light-years away. A few astronauts have the mission of manning the space station that acts like the steering wheel for the whole operation, and the space station is directed by a HAL-like computer called MOSS. When the project begins, the world's population (the few who won a lottery) has to take shelter in giant underground shelters because the Earth stopped rotating and started moving away from the Sun, i.e. temperatures dropped to subfreezing levels. Fast forward 17 years later, and Peiqiang has completed his shift at the space station and is ready to go home and see his son again how is now a young man. His son, however, has a different plan. While the country is celebrating Chinese New Year, Qi and his adopted sister Duoduo escape from school, steal granpa's driver license, buy counterfeited astronaut suits from a gangster and walks out of the underground shelter via a 5-km elevator that takes them to the iced surface of the planet. They use granpa's driver license to drive around in a truck. They see workers at work around the thrusters and the engines that are driving the planet towards Jupiter. They are soon stopped by the police and thrown in jail, where they meet another juvenile delinquent, Tim. Informed of the arrest, Granpa travels to the surface and tries to bribe the prison officer but is instead thrown into the same jail. Jupiter's gravity causes earthquakes all over the planet, and one such earthquake destroys the prison and frees the prisoners. The situation becomes dire: in 37 hours the Earth will collide with Jupiter. Rescue missions need to urgently repair the thrusters. The four escape and steal the truck again. As they are trying to make their way back home, they are stopped by a patrol that is trying to deliver a "light core" where it is desperately needed to restart a thruster. The truck is confiscated and the four are de facto prisoners of the squad that is heading towards an underground city. Meanwhile, the computer MOSS has canceled Peiqiang's retirement and ordered all personnel on the space station to go in hybernation. Peiqiang is the only one who is reluctant because he would like to first find out if his son is ok. However, his son hates him because of the way his mother died. Shanghai is completely covered with ice. Only the tip of the skyscrapers stick out. The group loses the truck and climbs the tallest skyscraper. Granpa dies heroically and his last memory is how he saved Duoduo who was drowning and raised her as Qi's sister. The patrol is determined to accomplish their mission and continues on foot. When news reaches them that their destination Hangzhou is completely destroyed, it seems obvious that their mission has become pointless. Qi, his sister and Tim decide to go back home, and start walking in the opposite direction. Luckily they run into a truck. Inside there is only one scared engineer, Yiyi. Qi takes control of the vehicle and heads home. Meanwhile, Peiqiang still refuses to go into hybernation. Peiqiang finds out that MOSS is trying to save the space station, abandoning Earth to his destiny. MOSS awakes the others to arrest Peiqiang but instead his Russian friend helps him escape outside the space station. The Russian dies but Peiqiang survives and reaches the central command of the space station. Qi and his friends hear a desperate call for help and decide to turn the vehicle and contribute to the epic fight to save the Earth: their vehicle has the light core that is needed in Sulawesi. On the way they pick up the patrol that was going to Hangzhou. They reach their destination in time but it is useless: it is too late to avoid the collision with Jupiter. Qi, however, remembers something that his father told him and guesses that an explosion on Jupited would propel Earth into a different trajectory. Yiyi finds a way to use their fuel to ignite Jupiter's atmosphere. Meanwhile, Peiqiang tries to disable MOSS but MOSS shows Peiqiang evidence that he is just obeying orders from the Earth government: the space station is equipped with enough DNA to continue the human species on another planet in case Earth cannot be saved, and this seems to be the case. The mission has been renamed "Helios", a secret mission to abandon Earth and try to colonize another planet. Peiqiang begs the government to assemble all rescue units so that they can help his son Qi to carry out his plan. Nonetheless, Qi's plan fails. Then Peiqiang has a bright idea: use all the fuel of his space station to cause the ignition. Peiqiang, however, uses his Russian friend's illegal vodka bottle to set MOSS on fire and then assumes manual control of the space station. His bids goodbye to his son and pilots the space station into Jupiter's combustible atmosphere. The explosion sends Earth on a new orbit (nobody dies of course) and heads towards better solar systems. Qi saves Duoduo's life with an acrobatic jump into the void. The government comes up with a new plan that will last 1,000 generations.
(Copyright © 2017 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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