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Film / The Wandering Earth

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This long voyage of hope and despair will endure 2,500 years through the cosmos. It is also known as... The Wandering Earth Project.

The Wandering Earth (Chinese: 流浪地球, Pinyin: Liúlàng Dìqiú) is a 2019 live-action science fiction film directed by Frant Gwo, based on the novella by Liu Cixin, and starring Wu Jing. It is currently the second highest-grossing non-English film, surpassed only by Wolf Warrior 2.

In the near future, the sun is exhausting its fuel, and will soon turn into a red giant, destroying the entire Solar System in three hundred years. Under threat of planetary annihilation, humanity bands together to construct 12,000 enormous "Earth Engines" on Earth's surface to propel it out of the Solar System to a new home. However, upon approaching Jupiter to make use of gravity assist, thousands of engines get knocked offline all across the globe, threatening to plunge the entire Earth into Jupiter.

It was released on Chinese New Year's Day (February 5th, 2019) and later picked up by Netflix on April 30th.



  • Action Girl: Zhou Qian kicks just as much ass as the rest of her rescue team. Other female rescue workers appear to provide assistance at the Sulawesi Earth Engine.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Exaggerated. In the original novella, the Earth gliding past the Jupiter eerily gently, if somehow eldritch, occupies just a paragraph (as in text shown in the Creative Closing Credits), and makes all for the film's main plot's setting. Furthermore, the film adaption really hastened the construction of thrusters and maneuvered the Planet Spaceship far too brutally, potentially responsible for Apocalypse How.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: MOSS becomes the primary antagonist on the space station, fighting Liu Peiqiang at every step.
    MOSS: It is unreasonable to expect humans to stay reasonable.
  • Alien Sky: For some reason, in the very last shot of the film (the shot where Liu Qi, Han Duoduo, and Li Yiyi drive a transport off onto a highway), one can see two planets or moons in the sky, to the left. Then the camera pans above the clouds and... they aren't there anymore. It's probably just for artistic effect, but still.
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  • All There in the Manual: See Bonus Material entry.
  • Apocalypse Anarchy: When the destruction of the world seems imminent, the people in the underground cities start rioting and stealing everything they can.
  • Apocalypse How: The expanding Sun threatens to engulf Earth. Later, Earth on a collision course with Jupiter.
    • As Foreshadowed before the end, an anti-UGE insurgency was being brewed by whoever doubt the Sun's imminent death.
  • Apocalyptic Logistics: No emphasis is put on the logistics of maintaining underground cities, how populations are supported, or how space is distributed.
  • Arc Number: For anyone outside China, Rescue team's sequence CN171-11 is an reference to a real-life rescue team flying a Mi-171 helicopter who gave their lives rescueing people from the Grand Earthquake of Wenchuan in 2008, 11 years prior to the film's debut.
  • Artificial Outdoors Display: One of the first scenes after the prologue has a bunch of students (Duoduo among them) getting a school lecture on the Chinese New Year that gets disrupted when Liu Qi activates an EMP, making all if the lights and the wall display of a Chinese city downtown blink uncontrollably.
  • Artistic License – Physics: The movie prefers to handwave some of the more ludicrous aspects.
    • Of course, the idea that the entire Earth can be equipped with giant thrusters to push it out of orbit.
    • The Sun suddenly dying in a span of a few hundred years.
      • Even within that sudden death, the Sun expanding wouldn't be the problem. Stellar expansion is preceded by a significant increase in temperature. If the Sun was three hundred years away from engulfing the Earth, it would have already heated up enough to render the planet uninhabitable.
    • The "gravitational spike" that Jupiter causes. No, planets cannot randomly increase in gravity.
    • Igniting Jupiter's atmosphere which would cause a shockwave strong enough to push Earth out of its gravitational pull.
  • The Ark:
    • Earth. Instead of bringing just a sufficient amount of resources to establish a new home around a new sun, humanity decides to bring the entire planet.
    • The International Station has multiple stored human embryos, as well as stores of seeds and a database with hefty amounts of mankind's knowledge, all to be sent towards Alpha Centauri as part of the backup "Helios Project".
  • The Beforetimes: Han Zi'ang reminisces of the time before the Wandering Earth Project, when nobody worried about the sun and everyone was more interested in something called "money".
  • Big Bad: MOSS is the closest thing to a big bad that this movie has. Besides that, there is no real big bad.
  • The Big Guy: Wang Lei and the other members of the CN171-11 rescue team.
  • Binary Suns: Assuming Earth makes it to its destination, the humans will have to deal with this, since Alpha Centauri is not one star, but two.note 
  • Calling Parents by Their Name: Due to his contempt towards his father, Liu Qi always calls Liu Peiqiang by name. It's not until Liu Peiqiang sacrifices himself at the climax of the movie that Liu Qi finally calls him "Dad".
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Liu Qi does this to Liu Peiqiang for leaving his family behind and allowing Qi's mother/Peiqiang's wife to die.
  • The Cavalry: The rescue workers that arrive at the Sulawesi Earth Engine to help push a firing pin into place.
  • Centrifugal Gravity: The Navigational Platform International Space Station spins, which allows the crew to walk normally. At one point, the control room of the station stops spinning, and everything starts floating away.
  • Chekhov's Gift: Makarov puts a bottle of vodka in Liu Peiqiang's space suit to celebrate the latter's retirement. Peiqiang later uses the vodka to disable MOSS.
  • Chekhov's Skill: At age four, Liu Qi learns from Liu Peiqiang that Jupiter is composed 90% of hydrogen. He then remembers this information and realizes that it means that the hydrogen could be used to cause an explosion strong enough to propel Earth out of Jupiter's gravitational pull.
  • Chekhov's Volcano: Sort of. The Earth Engines are essentially giant artificial volcanoes taller than even Mount Everest. One of the oversized vectoring engines becomes essential in saving Earth from Jupiter's gravitational pull.
  • Colony Ship: Earth is turned into one of these to reach a new star system.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Invoked by accident, thanks to wild Artistic License – Physics.
    • Humankind takes a grave risk to save the hope of rebuilding the Earth's biosphere from total annihilation.
  • Creative Closing Credits: An Earth the size of a grain of sand flies through floating parts of a printing press, which assemble together and print words onto immense pages, which get rolled up and bound into Liu Cixin's original The Wandering Earth novella. Pages of the book also reform into an Earth Engine, the Navigation Platform International Space Station, and Jupiter.
  • Death World: The wandering Earth has become a frozen wasteland that will snap-freeze anybody without a protective suit, and this is without taking into account the chaos Jupiter's gravity makes during the events of the film.
  • Depopulation Bomb: Stopping Earth's rotation causes catastrophic tsunamis all over the world that wipe out half Earth's population.
  • Died Standing Up: One small team of three is seen frozen in a walking position, having succumbed to the sheer cold while transporting a lighter core. Justified in that they are completely encased in ice, so that they continue to be held up.
  • Disaster Movie: A lot of disaster happens for sure.
  • Distant Finale: Not super distant, but the last scene of the film takes place 3 years after the encounter with Jupiter.
  • Distant Prologue: The beginning of the movie takes place 17 years before most of the events of the film, before the Earth Engines were activated and back when Earth was in its regular place in orbit.
  • Driven to Madness: When the heroes find Li Yiyi in a crashed airplane, he is homicidal and nearly kills Han Duoduo. Fortunately, the others are able to calm him down.
  • Eternal Engine: The Earth Engines. Each one is stated to be eleven kilometers tall, and the torque engines around the equator are even bigger. One Earth engine over Paris is shown to make the Eiffel Tower look like a blade of grass. There are ten thousand standard thrust engines and two thousand more torque engines.
  • Exact Time to Failure: MOSS states that it will initiate a countdown in the final few seconds before Earth is disintegrated by Jupiter's gravity. Ultimately, however, no such countdown actually happens.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Aside from the Distant Prologue at the beginning of the movie and the Distant Finale at the end of the movie, the events of the film take place more-or-less over a mere 36-40 hour period.
  • Fight to Survive: Comes with being a disaster movie of sorts.
  • Funny Foreigner: Tim, a Chinese-Australian fool, and Makarov, a Russian cosmonaut. Both are played for comic relief.
  • Generation Ship: Earth, as a Planet Spaceship. The Wandering Earth Project is said to take 2,500 years to complete, and will involve 100 generations of humans.
  • Glacial Apocalypse: The Earth entering a new ice age is the natural consequence of transforming it into a Planet Spaceship and send it flying away from the Sun (to escape it becoming a red giant several billion years too early). The cold, which is capable of instantly killing a person if they are not protected, is one of the greatest threats in the journey to save the planet when it threatens to crash with Jupiter.
  • Gratuitous English: Tim shouts one or two lines in English when frightened. Liu Qi also snaps at someone in English.
  • Gravity Sucks: Earth approaching Jupiter and having its Earth Engines knocked out causes its trajectory to suddenly and immediately go thirty to forty degrees off course, essentially heading straight towards Jupiter.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: In a way, the United Earth Government is this, as MOSS is acting on the decision made by the council members of the government to continue with Project Helios instead of saving Earth; however, their intentions are fairly reasonable and understandable. Eventually, however, the Government has a Heel–Face Turn and chooses hope, allowing Liu Peiqiang to destroy the Navigation Platform International Space Station to save Earth.
  • The Heart: Han Duoduo.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Han Duoduo, who was orphaned in a tsunami as a baby and found and adopted by Han Zi'ang. She later heartwarms enough rescue workers to convince them to help push the firing pin of the Sulawesi Earth Engine.
  • Heel–Face Turn: The United Earth Government eventually agrees to allow Liu Peiqiang to terminate Project Helios to save the Earth.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: A few.
    • An unspecified worker chose to fall down a ravine in their truck rather than possibly allow the cargo to fall down with them. The cargo is an incredibly important Lighter Core - essentially, the firing mechanism for an Earth Engine.
    • He Lianke dies while tweaking the hardware to hack the Sulawesi Earth Engine.
    • Liu Peiqiang plunges himself and the Navigational Platform International Space Station into the exhaust beam of one of the Earth Engines to ignite Jupiter's atmosphere.
  • Hollywood Science: Has this in spades. Reviewers like Bob Chipman have mentioned that the plot is as scientifically sound as that of Armageddon (1998) (which is famously used by NASA as a litmus test of how much Hollywood screws up).
  • Human Popsicle: The Navigational Platform International Space Station contains hundreds of thousands of human embryos on board in case something goes wrong with the Wandering Earth Project. Also happens in a lethal way a few times to some of the people due to the cold surface environment.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Zhou Qian gets impaled through the shoulder all the way through by a steel rod when a ceiling collapses. She survives.
  • In Space, Everyone Can See Your Face: Liu Peiqiang and Makarov's faces are clearly visible in the helmets of their space suits.
  • Ironic Echo: At the beginning of the film, Liu Peiqiang tells his son, Liu Qi, that he will turn into a star by flying up to the Navigational Platform International Space Station. He says it again at the climax when he sends the same station into the Sulawesi Earth Engine's modified exhaust beams, causing an explosion visible from Earth's surface that resembles a star.
  • I Will Only Slow You Down: Wang Lei convinces Liu Qi and Tim to escape with Han Duoduo, as he's trapped under rubble and can't escape. When they do, he cracks a smile before he dies.
  • Light Is Not Good: MOSS, the Navigation Platform International Space Station's AI, becomes the main antagonist of the film. Its node/head/whatever you want to call it in the hibernation chambers is a nice white color.
    • Crosses over into Dark Is Evil and Red and Black and Evil All Over because MOSS's node/head/whatever in the control room of the space station, which is directly hooked up to its databank (basically its true "body"), is instead black with a red eye.
  • Lovable Coward: Tim is the only member of the group who is constantly freaking out over the danger.
  • Missing Mom: Liu Peiqiang's wife died before the events of the film, a fact that their son, Liu Qi, holds over his head due to the fact that Peiqiang chose to pull the plug to guarantee Liu Qi and Han Zi'ang residency in the underground cities.
  • Monumental Damage Resistance: Shanghai's Oriental Pearl Tower is shown to be intact, albeit frozen. So is the (fictional) building for the Shanghai Olympics 2044.
  • Mundane Utility: Li Yiyi wrote a program called the 12 Chimes of Spring as a show for Chinese New Year's, which would modify an Earth Engine to fire out sequential red bursts of plasma through individual nozzles rather than constant blue streams of plasma through all seven nozzles.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: There is no romance between any of the characters in this film at all.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Invoked, but ultimately averted. Han Zi'ang gets left behind while transporting the Lighter Core through Shanghai, and dies when the building they are in collapses. This leaves Liu Qi enraged.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: MOSS can't do much to the protagonists besides try to lock Liu Peiqiang in the hibernation chamber and activate a thruster to blast Makarov. Most of its antagonism is in the form of restricting access to various things on the Navigation Platform International Space Station.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Earth isn't actually wandering (i.e. moving around aimlessly), since the planet has a target destination (the Alpha Centauri system).
  • Not Afraid to Die: Liu Peiqiang is absolutely fearless as he steers the Navigational Platform International Space Station into the Earth Engine's exhaust stream.
  • One World Order: In the face of planetary destruction, all the nations of Earth band together to form the United Earth Government, which initiates the Wandering Earth Project to save the world.
  • Only One Name: Tim and Makarov, the two western characters, are only ever referred to by one name.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Some of the protagonists hop in a transport to try to outrun the shockwave from the explosion on Jupiter's surface. The shockwave destroys half the transport before they can take shelter under an Earth Engine, but they all manage to survive.
  • Pac Man Fever: Brother Yi near the beginning of the movie is shown playing Contra on a Famicom. This is particularly odd since assuming it's an original Famicom, the console is up to 92 years old, since the movie takes place in 2075.
  • Percussive Therapy: Han Zi'ang's death enrages Liu Qi to the point of trying to attack Wang Lei.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Makarov has a "drunk Russian" shtick, while Tim spends the majority of his screentime being clueless and goofy.
  • Precision F-Strike: In the English dub, Liu Qi gives one to Wang Lei after Han Zi'ang gets killed in a collapsing building.
    Liu Qi: Why the fuck didn't you save my grandfather!?
  • Planet Spaceship: Earth. The 12,000 Earth Engines on the surface of the planet allow it to cruise through space.
  • Powered Armor: Not exactly armor, but rescue teams such as CN171-11 use exoskeletons that grant the user more strength.
  • Rape as Comedy: It's a punchline when Tim reveals that he's in jail because of a rape accusation.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: MOSS's main drive is a black box with a red eye, in comparison to the gunmetal grey of its other terminals.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: MOSS, which has a design clearly inspired by HAL 9000. Surprise, surprise, it turns out to be the Big Bad of the film.
  • Rogue Planet: Humanity turning Earth into one of these is an important part of the plot.
  • Saharan Shipwreck: There is an enormous ship frozen in the middle of Shanghai. Justified in that it is explicitly stated that due to the Earth Engines' influence, the planet's rotation stopped, causing tsunamis all across the globe, which is how the ship could have gotten there.
  • Scenery Gorn: Has a few such scenes, such as the shot of the frozen Shanghai.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Mostly for Rule of Cool.
    • The 10,000 Propulsion Earth Engines are said to output a combined 150 trillion (1.5 x 10^14) tons of force to propel Earth to Jupiter's neighborhood in 17 years. However, according to NASA engineer John Elliot, this feat would require something more like 2.5 quadrillion (2.5 x 10^15) tons of thrust... for each of the 10,000 engines.
    • The engines are also powered by ordinary rocks burned using "heavy fusion" technology. From John Elliot from the same article as above, it would also take 95% of the Earth's mass to power the entire 4.3 light year trip to the Alpha Centauri system.
    • The entire ploy to ignite Jupiter to cause an explosion strong enough to push Earth away is simply ludicrous for the people on the surface of the planet. Assuming such a powerful explosion can even happen, an explosion powerful enough to push Earth away to allow it to overcome Jupiter's gravity while it's 30 minutes from breaching its roche limit would crush all the Earth Engines on the side of the planet that the shockwave hits, killing everyone who is currently on that side of Earth, sending shockwaves through the entire crust and probably caving in every underground city on the face of the globe, and leaving the world with one hell of a dent. Of course, none of that happens and Earth simply continues on its merry way.
  • Single-Biome Planet: Earth becomes an ice world after leaving its place in the Solar System and begins to get more and more distant from the Sun.
  • Sleeper Starship: The Navigational Platform International Space Station comes with hibernation chambers for the crew.
  • The Smart Guy: Li Yiyi and He Lianke.
  • Signature Scene: The Earth cruising through space. Also, Jupiter looming over the Earth, the enormous gas giant taking up the entirety of the sky.
  • Space Station: The Navigational Platform International Space Station, which cruises 100,000 km ahead of Earth to help guide it.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: A few things. We have exploding electrical equipment, erupting volcanoes, and later, the entire Navigation Platform International Space Station and Jupiter.
  • Super Wrist-Gadget: Liu Qi's wrist multitool, which includes devices like an EMP and a blowtorch.
  • Tempting Fate: While driving a stolen transport, Liu Qi assures Han Duoduo that "no one can catch [him]". Seconds later, he runs into a police vehicle, and in the very next scene, he's in prison.
  • Time-Passage Beard: Liu Peiqiang is clean-shaven in the prologue, but seventeen years later during the bulk of the film, he has a full beard.
  • Tidally Locked Planet: Sort of. Since the Earth has stopped rotating and it is being propelled away from the Sun, only the northern hemisphere is exposed to sunlight, while the southern hemisphere, facing away from the sun, is in permanent night. Since the Earth Engines that push Earth are facing towards the sun, this means that most of the Earth Engines are on the lit side of Earth, with only the torque engines approaching the dark side.
  • Title Drop: The plan to move Earth to a new star system is itself called "The Wandering Earth Project".
  • Translator Microbes: Despite speaking different languages, characters in the film can often understand each other, such as the Chinese Liu Peiqiang and the Russian Makarov. Might have something to do with the earpieces each Navigational Platform International Space Station crew member is wearing. At one point in the movie, one rescue worker on Earth is explicitly shown activating a translation device when receiving a spoken message. In the English dub, however, everyone simply speaks English with various accents.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The technology (besides the Earth Engines) does not seem much more advanced than modern times. The movie takes place in 2075, as shown by a blink-and-you'll-miss-it display monitor. This means that the Earth Engines were activated in 2058 at the earliest, since the prologue that takes place 17 years before shows the Earth in its usual position, before the engines were activated. In fact, Han Zi'ang states that no Earth Engine had failed in 30 years, which means that at least one was completed in 2045, and were being constructed earlier still.
  • Two Girls to a Team: Han Duoduo and Zhou Qian are the only females among the main cast.
  • Underground City: There is one under each of the 10,000 Earth Engines.
  • Weaponized Exhaust: The third act of the movie focuses on amplifying the output of one of the Earth Engines to blast Jupiter in order to cause an explosion to push Earth out of the danger zone.
  • Weird World, Weird Food: People underground eat flavored earthworms.
  • White-and-Grey Morality: Though MOSS is the closest thing to a Big Bad in the film, it is simply acting on orders given by the United Earth Government, the members of which are only choosing to abandon Earth to ensure human survival - a difficult decision for sure. They eventually decide to save Earth instead.