The Wandering Earth II Blu-ray Review


  • Director ‏ : ‎ Frant Gwo
  • Actors ‏ : ‎ Andy Lau, Wu Jing, Li Xuejian, Ning Li, Wang Zhi
  • Dubbed: ‏ : ‎ English
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English (DTS 5.1)
  • Studio ‏ : ‎ Well Go Usa
  • MPAA rating ‏ : ‎ NR (Not Rated)
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ USA
  • Number of discs ‏ : ‎ 1
  • Media Format ‏ : ‎ Widescreen, Subtitled
  • Run time ‏ : ‎ 2 hours and 53 minutes
  • Release date ‏ : ‎ December 19, 2023

         When the epic Chinese blockbuster The Wandering Earth was released in 2019, it felt like a response to mindless Hollywood disaster films like Armageddon or Moonfall, complete with an emphasis on visual effects and goofy comedic relief. While the storyline seemed primed for a sequel, The Wandering Earth II made the questionable decision to focus on the events before the first film, making it a prequel despite the confusion of the title.


Given the fact that this means the audience has an awareness of where the story is headed, I mistakenly assumed this would water down much of the film’s tension. Along with ambitiously increasing the scale of filmmaking for the follow-up film, The Wandering Earth II also grounds the narrative with slightly more realistic action and emotional storylines which invest in the characters as much as the improved visuals. It is no surprise that The Wandering Earth II was China’s official submission for the 'Best International Feature Film' category of the 96th Academy Awards, even though it has about as much chance getting a nomination as Moonfall.


Despite being filmed during the pandemic, director and co-screenwriter Frant Gwo managed to expand the narrative of The Wandering Earth II to include more of an international presence. While the first film primarily focuses on the Chinese characters, this one includes characters from multiple countries as the world prepares for inevitable disaster as the sun begins to expand and threatens to destroy the Earth. The United Nations has been renamed the United Earth Government (UEG) and they are preparing to put a plan called the Moving Mountain Project into action, essentially creating a way to move the planet into a new solar system.


Along with multiple obstacles getting in the way of achieving this goal, there are also protestors who believe artificial intelligence is the way to ensure humanity’s survival. While experts on Earth search for ways to move the planet, others make efforts to separate the moon from orbit, and obstacles in each of these missions lead to multiple potentially disastrous situations which must be problem-solved. This also provides a greater diversity of spectacle than the first film, with action sequences against both terrorists and time as time runs out for humanity.


There are also obvious efforts to insert the melodrama utilized in the first film, even showing us the decision that separated the father and son at the center of the first film’s storyline (with Wu Jing reprising his role as a younger Liu Peiqiang). At the same time, Andy Lau is added to the cast as a computer scientist named Tu Hengyu who is struggling with the grief of losing his wife and daughter while working on the project to save Earth.


The Wandering Earth II is far from a perfect film, but it is a vast improvement on the first installment in the franchise, building anticipation for the third film set to be released by 2027. Those who enjoy disaster epics are unlikely to find any as ambitious as this, even coming from Hollywood. Even those who are indifferent to the sub-genre will likely find something to enjoy in this highly watchable Chinese blockbuster, which was the eighth most profitable film of 2023.


Although the ideal way to watch the films in The Wandering Earth franchise is on the biggest screen possible, those who missed it in theaters should not hesitate to seek the film out on Blu-ray. Unfortunately, other than the high-definition presentation of the film, there is nothing extra contained on the disc beyond a trailer and optional English-language dubbing.


Entertainment Value: 8/10

Quality of Filmmaking: 7.5/10

Historical Significance:  7/10

Special Features: 1.5/10


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