Why Are Americans Ignoring the Most Important Movie of Their Times, China's The Wandering Earth?



Charles I want you to know that you are both praiseworthy and damnable at once you are a master of the run-on paragraph writer and this should never be acceptable in any Universe the one that the Chinese want to go to or the one that she would just in after you smoke a little bit too much reefer and that's fine we accept you for that we know that your last name actually means fucked up in African Swahili but that's not because you're fucked up it's just because you have a very very serious addiction it's not an addiction to drugs is not an addiction to video games it's an addiction to run on paragraphs this is a problem we cannot have this either for you or for the stranger before any Riders In The Stranger or for stranger stranger riders or for strange writers it's just not acceptable when your paragraphs go on and on and on and on it creates unreadable Leti and unreadable ility I'm here to tell you will lose your Riders faster than even you telling them that this movie is important when you know in your car if it was important it would be playing at the multiplex it is not important it is a Chinese movie Chinese movies are not important this is because movies that are important are not Chinese they're made in Hollywood they're not made in Bollywood they're not made in China they're not made in Canada wait they are but my point is is that you know this in your heart you know this and you deny it and it becomes a way for you to BS everybody into the ultimate and power because you need to have water for your run on paragraphs so I'm here to tell you that that has to stop that just has to stop please


The fundamental difference between Chinese capitalism and American capitalism is that the latter takes place in a democracy and the former does not. The Chinese government has been long trying to push the idea that its system is superior because as a totalitarian state it can make unpopular-but-necessary decisions to combat major crises like climate change. If we assume most Americans are still at least somewhat on board with the whole democracy thing, it's perhaps unsurprising that they might not be crazy about a movie that subtly argues against it. (Though I suspect the actual answer to the question in the title is that Chinese blockbusters generally tend to feel like sprawling messes to western audiences. Haven't seen it yet though, so I'm hoping to be pleasantly surprised!)

The Three Body trilogy by the same author as the "Wandering Earth" novella was great. My recollection is that in those books China isn't explicitly the main country trying to save the world, but all the world's governments definitely behave like the benevolent problem solving technocrats the CCP tries to present itself as. Even though the books are ultimately pretty bleak, that aspect of it does kind of hearken back to old golden age Sci-Fi when we mostly trusted our governments to make bold decisions about the future of the species which hasn't been true in western Sci-Fi for a long time.


Couldn't watch it.

First, the basic plot is complete science garbage. It proposes that, faced with earth's destruction, smart guys turn earth into a giant spaceship, and then move the whole planet to another star. The entire premise is utterly preposterous. Regardless of whatever merits the film otherwise holds, I wasn't able to suspend my disbelief because the base premise of the film is just too stupid to be believable.

Second, the version of the film on Netflix is badly dubbed over in English. The English voiceover is terrible and ridiculous. Foreign films have two choices when broadcast in the US: 1) play it in the original language and provide English subtitles, or 2) dub over it in English. Every film I've ever seen that is dubbed over in English is worse than the subtitled version. It makes another break in believability. The lips you see moving don't match the words you hear. I don't know if another version of this is available in its original language with English subtitles, but that might have been more tolerable than the bad dubbing for the Netflix version.

I have no idea how the film turns out because I couldn't last past the first half hour.


Both the Three Body Problem and Wandering Earth are grossly overrated .

It's not clear exactly what Charles is trying to say in this essay. Is the thesis, "Hey! Idiots! You're paying lots of attention to [Western Blockbuster] when [Eastern Blockbuster] is getting no attention at all!" ?? ... because that's rather arbitrary. And, to be honest, silly.

Is it, "OMG! Superheroes are silly but attaching huge jets to a planet and moving to another solar system is totally awesome!" ?? Because that's... arbitrary. And just as silly.

Is it, "Hey!! Look at my awesome powers of critical observation and outfield/left field perspective!!" ?? ...because that's not bad, and Charles is fun to read sometimes. However, as Heraclitus commented, much learning does not teach understanding. So we should be cautious when reading an entertaining perspective that we don't confuse it with serious discourse.

Also, finally, seriously, Pacific Rim is also really silly. Charles and others can like it all you want (or this movie, for that matter), but while we're here commenting and making "I like" statements as hot takes or replies to same, Pacific Rim is retread and bad special effects. It will not be remembered well.

Is the perspective, "Climate change is not being taken seriously!!!" ?? .... Yeah, welcome to 1880, 1900, 1920, 1940, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010, 2016, 2019. .... Conservation in America is moving less rapidly than industrialization and capitalism. Same in China. (@Charlss -- have you -been- to Beijing!? HOLY SHIT! That is not the country to hold up as an ecological poster child).

I like Charles's offbeat perspective. I don't agree with him. But I like him. So thanks, Charles. Thank you for being yourself. And stating what you state. Even if I find it confused or confusing, I think the world would be a better place if people said what they honestly think more often.

This is a silly movie though.

If you're into the type of thing it's going for I would direct you towards 2312 (or maybe Red Mars). It's a lot of world building, fantastic solar system voyaging (while fully embracing problems inherent with government and climate change), and vague questions of power, politics, and personal impact with a much less confused narrative.

For that matter, turn back to the classics "Moon is a Harsh Mistress" or "Stranger In a Strange Land." While a bit sexist and homophobic at times, adjusted for cultural advancement in the decades since they were written (i.e., mentally editing antiquated bullshit views of "normal") they still satisfy. Same with Forever War and Childhoods End.

Nancy Kress's "Beggars in Spain" (and assorted short stories) also are worth some time.

Three Body Problem and Wandering Earth are ambitious but land flat. They feel derivative and confused. While I plowed through them on recommendation from lots of people, they're just not that compelling.

Your mileage may vary, and good on you for that. Happy exploring.


@3 Netflix makes it easy to turn on the original Chinese and English subtitles to mitigate the terrier overdub problem. Not disagreeing with tour point of view or encouraging you to watch, but at least the irritating overdub thing is easily mitigated. At the very least, something to remember for next time you're streaming a foreign film (overdubs are the pits).

Quote - "Second, the version of the film on Netflix is badly dubbed over in English. The English voiceover is terrible and ridiculous."


I prefer my climate apocolypse stories fun, like Detective Pikachu, thanks.


@4 "It's not clear exactly what Charles is trying to say in this essay."

No, it's not. He managed to avoid using the term "Keynesian," though, which is a rarity for Charles.


@5 Ah! Thank you!

Seriously. I just assumed that was the only version available on Netflix, and didn't even think to check to see if I could change the language and subtitles. Duh. I changed the settings and you were right. It is far less obnoxious in its original language. Every badly dubbed word doesn't make me cringe.

It's still a stupid plot.


I just stopped reading after you mentioned about the Pacific Rim sequel being a historian film and I highly doubt you really(Really?) fell that way.
I am all for awesome Robot CG movies, but a good movie needs a plot and characters that you can associate with, and Pacific Rim had neither. The movie tried too hard to force Chinese characters/culture into an American robot film sequel, and it was just too painful to watch. I'm sure it pleased the Chinese investors and it probably did great in China, but it was just a bad movie.
I've been watching a lot their blockbusters, and they all have one thing in common. Amature movie plot/story/characters with unlimited funding. I haven't seen Wandering Earth, and while I do hope it's a great film, it will probably be like the previous blockbusters.


Spoiler alert much?


I don't have eloquent words or analysis. I'm Taiwanese, Chinese, American. Regardless of your politics, It's a bad movie. Full of plot holes and stupid propaganda narration. Plus the whole story just doesn't make sense. "Loosely based" must be the key words. Whoever did the movie adaptation should be shot. Spoiler alert. Stop here.

To the others who didn't finish the movie

So the Taikungnaut dad isn't just super stupid, he is also super selfish,. Without giving any choice to his fellow cosmonauts (I assume only Russian were there because the computer only spoke Chinese and shouts warning in English only. Make sense?) he decided to plunge the spaceship into Jupiter to "ignite" it and push earth away(talk about focus blast from)? Btw if the section he detached supposed to have his fellow crew members, that section will eventually crash into Jupiter too. What a lesson in totalitarianism.