The science fiction epic shows China’s technological strength

The Wandering Earth II‘s poster shows technical exoskeletons. Photo: Maoyan

A hi-tech craze has swept China during the Spring Festival holiday (January 21 to Friday) with China’s homemade sci-fi epic The Wandering Earth II was released in theaters and has grossed 2.3 billion yuan (US$340 million) at the box office so far, and it has sparked a heated discussion about the country’s hardware technology as well as great public interest in the film’s peripheral derivatives.

For example, the crowdfunding for a peripheral derivative product of the film – mechanical dog quake – has received approximately 59.7 million yuan as of press time, surpassing the target of 100,000 yuan within a week of the film’s release. Crowdfunding is a way of raising money online from people for financial projects.

Also, the engineered vehicles, drones and exoskeletons seen on screen are all products mass-produced or developed for the film by the industry leaders.

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

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

was The Wandering Earth II Well? “Even though the film is three hours long, I didn’t expect the storyline to be told quickly and forcefully,” reads a typical online comment from an audience that has received a flood of likes.

When the impressive box office of The Wandering Earth 2019, the Spring Festival holiday marked the first great year of Chinese sci-fi films, and four years later, the prequel also held up the banner of a great year for sci-fi films, Shi said.

There is no doubt that the visual shock effect of this prequel is above the first, such as the epic sci-fi long shot of the space elevator, the space station crash scene and the artificially activated nuclear bomb blast scene, all of which are a visual feast for the audience, Shi noted.

With such a vast worldview structure and complex plot cues, how can the audience feel “consistently attracted” and “reluctant to leave the seat”? Director Guo first acknowledges China’s true power, saying, “Improving the country’s scientific and technological strength is the greatest foundation for us to make sci-fi films.”

Because they actually did it, the audience was won over, Guo said recently. A keen audience has found many prototypes of China’s military and aerospace products, such as the J-20 stealth fighter jet.

According to Guo, many of the United Earth Government’s (UEG) drivable, functional and deformable machines featured in the film came from Xuzhou Construction Machinery Group Co, Ltd (XCMG), a leader in China’s construction machinery industry.

“The steel mantis that we used in filming is a real Transformers version. Throughout the filming, we saw a lot of real science fiction. I’m so proud that our people made it,” said Guo.

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

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

On January 18, just before the theatrical release, 17 ministries, including the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, issued a notice on the implementation plan for the application of “Robot Plus”, which specifically mentioned promoting the development of exoskeleton robots.

But unlike the film, the plan focuses on developing exoskeleton robots in aged care services, The Paper reported Saturday.

It was previously estimated by industry media that the market size of China’s exoskeleton robot industry would reach 10.5 billion yuan in 2025, with a compound annual growth rate of 98.5 percent, and the C-end market would grow the fastest. Among them, the middle-aged and elderly have been the focus of many companies.