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Sci-fi blockbuster proves holiday hit, amazes critics

By LI YINGXUE/WANG RU | China Daily | Updated: 2019-02-11 07:52

[Photo provided to China Daily]

While many have expressed their excitement to see China's first big step forward in the sci-fi genre, others have found the plot problematic, depictions of characters thin, and lines awkward and redundant. The film has also ignited a heated online debate about what other scientific options the film could have explored to better help the Earth escape its increasingly hostile solar system.

Zhang Shuangnan, a researcher from the Institute of High Energy Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said he thinks the idea of the film makes for a brilliant sci-fi story. However, he said it is both impossible and unnecessary to stop the Earth from rotating.

"If pulsar navigation were used in the film, it would make it more 'hardcore' science than fiction, and it may even promote the development of pulsar navigation technology," Zhang wrote on WeChat account iScientist.

The film was also released in theaters across North America, Australia and New Zealand beginning on Feb 8, attracting attention as it is China's first major sci-fi film.

The New York Times said China's film industry has finally joined the space race "amid grandiose expectations that it will represent the dawning of a new era in Chinese filmmaking".

US news and media network The Verge said The Wandering Earth "shows a new side of Chinese filmmaking-one focused on futuristic spectacles rather than China's traditionally grand, massive historical epics".

Hollywood director James Cameron wrote on Sina Weibo that he wished good luck to Chinese sci-fi films on their cinematic voyage.

Last November, a 2018 report on China's science fiction industry was released by the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen. It said the total China box office for science fiction movies in 2017 was 13 billion yuan, and only around 10 percent of them were homegrown productions.

Wu Yan, who commissioned the report, said he thinks the popularity of The Wandering Earth indicates that the development of China's sci-fi sector is changing from just publishing books to film production, which is a lot more sophisticated, financially and technologically.

Wang Ru contributed to this story.

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