The best parts of Wandering Earth occur when it sticks to its imaginative and unique premise. The worst parts occur when it tries to emulate Hollywood, becoming cliched and unoriginal.
Last month, the Chinese sci-fi movie Wandering Earth became available on Netflix. The movie is based on the short story by Cixin Liu, one of the most well known writers of Chinese science fiction, and the author of the Three Body Problem (see my review of the book).
The Sun is expanding, heating up the Earth and slowly killing all species in it. The world unites to build huge fusion-powered thrusters on the Earth’s surface to steer it toward our closest star, Alpha Centauri.
And all this happens in the first 10 minutes of the movie, even before the title appears. Crazy? You bet.
A despised group of psychics search the galaxy for a place they could call home, while being persecuted by humans. Along the journey, the different motives of the protagonists clash, creating a truly spectacular story.
There’s something about moral ambiguity that is deeply disturbing but strangely enchanting. If the classic myths like the Ramayana talk about the struggle between good and evil, our modern epics like Game of Thrones talk about the struggle between…well, people. This grey versus grey morality, rather than black versus white morality, forms the bedrock of many fantastic anime, such as Tokyo Ghoul, Berserk, or Legend of the Galactic Heroes.
And then, there is Toward the Terra.
Toward the Terra (2007) is based on a late 1970s science fiction comic written by Keiko Takemiya, which in turn is inspired by a sci fi novel written in 1940 called Slan, written by A.E. van Vogt.
The series starts in way that is very familiar, nearly cliched. A 14-year old school boy named Jomy discovers that he is a Mu, a race of mutants with psychic powers. But in this dystopian society ruled by artificial intelligence, the Mu’s existence is kept a secret. What’s worse, once kids pass the age of 14, they have to take a test, and they are killed if the test shows any signs of them being a Mu. In the past, there were even genocides against the Mu.
Nearly killed himself by the humans, Jomy is rescued by other Mu who are in hiding…