Sunday 10 February 2019

The Current Cinema - John Snadden notices some of the big Chinese New Year movies THE WANDERING EARTH, MISSBEHAVIOUR and INTEGRITY

I thought I had better review this film as soon as I could, because the more I think about it, the more I dislike it.
THE WANDERING EARTH is the major film release from China for the big spending New Year holiday period. The Chinese government has poured money and resources into this big budget Sci-Fi feature. The movie is based on a short story from acclaimed writer Liu Cixin, who posits an idea which, to me, is nothing but tripe. The sun is disintegrating and the earth must be, literally, turbocharged to avoid the approaching disaster. A 2500 year plan of action(?!) is prepared by the world's powers to combat this threat - and is led by China (the plan, not the threat!). Visually, it's mainly an uninspired mix of READY PLAYER ONE and the MATRIX movies, with an occasional nod to GRAVITY and 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. 
As in a Spielberg film, director Frant Gwo fills the screen with forgettable and combustible characters. Wu Jing (star of the WOLF WARRIOR movies) is the nominal star and central hero figure who isn't very heroic, but is good at following orders. Canto actor Ng Man Tat (SHAOLIN SOCCER) is one of the small pleasures of the film, but for that he pays a high price. From a silly premise the story-line never improves and I don't think even a psychic could explain the final 30 minutes.
It's worth mentioning that this film is currently number #1 at China's box-office. But with the CCP now solely collecting and distributing film industry data, there have been many people, inside and outside China, questioning the validity of such figures. THE WANDERING EARTH's rocky path to the top has been very suspect - to say the least!

THE WANDERING EARTH, might be getting all the publicity for this Chinese New Year, but it's well worth noting two Cantonese features that will also be screened during this festive period. MISSBEHAVIOR is a comedy from HK film-maker Pang Ho-Cheung (VULGARIA), and INTEGRITY is the latest crime pic from the talented Alan Mak (PROJECT GUTENBERG). Both directors have enjoyed critical and commercial success with their extensive filmographies.

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