Sci-fi epic showcases China's technological strength
‘The Wandering Earth II’ invigorates the public
Published: Jan 28, 2023 09:38 PM
<em><em>The Wandering Earth</em> II</em>'s poster shows engineering exoskeletons. Photo: Maoyan

The Wandering Earth II's poster shows engineering exoskeletons. Photo: Maoyan

A hi-tech craze has been sweeping China during the Spring Festival holiday (January 21-Friday) with China's homemade sci-fi epic The Wandering Earth II hitting theaters, scoring 2.3 billion yuan ($340 million) at the box office so far, and it has sparked heated discussion over the country's hard technology as well as the public's keen interest in the peripheral derivative product of the movie. 

For example, the crowdfunding for a peripheral derivative product of the movie - mechanical dog Benben - has received about 59.7 million yuan as of press time, overshooting its targeted amount of 100,000 yuan within a week after the movie's release. Crowdfunding is a way of collecting money from people online for financial projects. 

Also, the engineering vehicles, drones, exoskeletons seen on the screen are all products that have been mass-produced or developed by the industry's leading companies for the movie. 

It is China's strong scientific and technological strength that makes the hard technological elements in the sci-fi blockbuster so convincing, Shi Wenxue, a Beijing-based film critic, told the Global Times on Saturday, noting that the movie has lit a fire thanks to technological innovation as well as the space fever in China.

The much-anticipated prequel to China's all-time highest-grossing sci-fi epic The Wandering Earth, also directed by Guo Fan, starring Andy Lau, Wu Jing and Li Xuejian, tells the story of mankind building enormous engines to propel Earth to a new solar system as the sun is rapidly burning out.

Was The Wandering Earth II good? "Although the movie is three hours long, I didn't expect the plot told with speed and punch," read a typical online comment by an audience, which has received floods of likes.

If the impressive box office of The Wandering Earth in 2019 Spring Festival holiday marked the first big year of Chinese sci-fi movies, then four years later the prequel also held up the banner of a great year of sci-fi movies, Shi said. 

There is no doubt that the visual shock effect of this prequel is beyond the first one, such as the epic sci-fi long shot of space elevator, the space station crash scene and the artificial activated nuclear bomb explosion scene, all representing a visual feast for audiences, Shi noted.

With such a huge world view structure and complex story clues, how can the audience feel "attracted throughout" and "reluctant to leave the seat"? Director Guo first credits the real power of China, saying: "The improvement of the country's scientific and technological strength is the biggest foundation for us to make science fiction films." 

It was because they did it in reality that audiences were convinced, Guo said recently. Careful audiences have found many prototypes of China's military and aerospace products, such as the J-20 stealth fighter jet.

According to Guo, many of the drivable, workable and deformable United Earth Government (UEG) machinery which feature in the movie came from Xuzhou Construction Machinery Group Co, Ltd (XCMG), a leading company in China's construction machinery industry.

"The steel mantis we used in the shooting is a real version of Transformers. During the whole shooting, we saw a lot of real science fictions. I'm so proud that our people made it," said Guo.

The exoskeletons featured in The Wandering Earth II have been gradually commercialized in recent years.

According to an article published by, with the sensing computing technology and sensing system becoming increasingly mature, robot research direction is gradually moving from man-machine cooperation to man-machine integration, and gradually becoming a part of the human body.

On January 18, shortly before the release of the movie, 17 ministries including the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued a notice on the implementation plan for the application of "Robot Plus," which explicitly mentioned the support for the development of exoskeleton robots. 

But different from the movie, the plan focuses on the development of exoskeleton robots in elderly care services, The Paper reported on Saturday.

It was previously estimated by industry media that the market scale of China's exoskeleton robot industry would reach 10.5 billion yuan in 2025, with an annual compound growth rate of 98.5 percent, and the C-end market would grow most rapidly. Among them, the middle-aged and elderly people were the focus of many enterprises.