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Reviews for January 22nd, 2023

The Wandering Earth II

Directed by Frant Gwo

      In a world where the sun will burn out imminently and the moon will disintegrate, all of the nations come together as part of the Wandering Earth Project to build large engines that can propel the Earth to a new solar system. Meanwhile, two astronauts, Liu Peiqiang (Wu Jing) and Han Duoduo (Wang Zhi), fall in love, and Tu Hengyu (Andy Lau), still mourning the death of his wife and daughter, uses new technology to communicate with his deceased daughter.

      If Moonfall, The Day After Tomorrow, RRR, and Armageddon had a baby, it would look something like The Wandering Earth II. The screenplay by Gong Geer follows a non-linear structure that shows the Wandering Earth Project from the perspectives of many different characters. There are so many characters that it's hard to remain emotionally invested because they're all underdeveloped and one-dimensional. Exposition is peppered throughout the film with some information that's repeated, but that's fine because it keeps the plot easy to follow. Part action, sci-fi, drama, suspense and romance, The Wandering Earth II throws a lot of emotions at the audience with a little bit of comic relief thrown in every now and then. Despite the fact that there are a lot of subplots, it avoids becoming uneven, confusing or meandering. It's very much overstuffed, though, with everything you can possibly imagine in a disaster film. You'll find explosions, floods, building destructions, physical fights, and, before you know it, even more explosions. Oh, and the Earth's internet also goes out.

      Unfortunately, there aren't that many explosions of emotions except for Tu Hengyu's story which adds much-needed poignancy through his interactions with his daughter who's resurrected from the dead digitally with the help of technology. Of course, the plot has a MacGuffin: the code needed to start large engines to propel the Earth and save it from destruction before it's too late. Of course, there's a countdown that lets you know how much time until the moon will disintegrate. The Wandering Earth II tries hard to manipulate the audience to keep them at the edge of their seat. Subtlety and nuance are thrown out the window along with room for interpretation without relying much on the audience's own intelligence to piece everything together. Fortunately, it's still an entertaining thrill ride.

      When it comes to production values, The Wandering Earth II is a triumph. The CGI effects, action choreography, set designs and cinematography are all superb and add plenty of style as well as pizzazz. Some of the action sequences are as exciting as the ones in RRR. Prepare for plenty of visual spectacle that will quench your thirst for action and eye candy. It's very clear that a lot of money was spent on the CGI effects alone. That said, there's so much action that it eventually becomes mind-numbing and a little exhausting like it does in most Michael Bay films or in the recent F9. The filmmakers don't quite grasp the concept of "less is more", so you'll most likely feel the weight of the nearly 3-hour running time. The pace moves quickly, though, which means that those of you who have a short attention span won't find any scenes that drag or that become lethargic. At a running time of 2 hours and 53 minutes, The Wandering Earth II is one of the most exhilarating, thrilling and crowd-pleasing action adventures since RRR.

Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Released by Well GO USA.
Opens in select theaters.