Taking a look at the films kicking off Chinese theaters in the New Year
寻梦环游记 (Xún mèng huán yóujì)
Title – Coco
Translation – Dream Travelogue
Rating – 5/10
An argument could be made that the English title for this film is flawed in many ways, but that is not the debate here. Rather than going for something original and easily memorable, our translators have gone with one of the film’s themes, dreaming, then tried to confuse viewers with allusions to Pixar’s Up (飞屋环游记, Flying House Travelogue).
星球大战：最后的绝地武士 (Xīngqiú dàzhàn: Zuìhòu de juédì wǔshì)
Title – Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Translation – Star Wars: The Last Jedi Warrior
Rating – 9.5/10
As much as the latest Star Wars deserves a point deducted for needlessly adding the word “warrior” into the title, the translators have done so much right that they should stand out from the rest. Firstly, not only is 星球大战 a legacy translation, it is also incredibly accurate (compare to Silver Wing Killer 2049 from the winter, which was the new Blade Runner). The second half of the title is also largely faithful to the English original.
Finally, the translation did not add an unnecessary number to remind audiences that the movie is a sequel.
迷镇凶案 (Mí zhèn xiōng’àn)
Title – Suburbicon
Translation – Mysterious Town Murder
Rating – 3/10
This film was tough to grade. The English title, in addition to being a made-up word, has layers of meaning and allusions that Chinese audiences may struggle to understand. A serviceable Chinese title would be hard to come up with, if possible at all.
However, this does not excuse the translation from simplifying the plot to a simple murder—something that occurs but is not the main point of the movie. The title is a classic click-bait translation that aims to service the lowest-common denominator.
勇敢者游戏：决战丛林 (Yǒnggǎn zhě yóuxì: Juézhàn cónglín)
Title – Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Translation – Brave Game: Final Battle Jungle
Rating – 1/10
How did they get this one so wrong?
As the second sequel to the Robin Williams original—yes, there was another, a sci-fi space flick called Zathura— you would expect translators to get the interpretation of Jumanji correct. Unfortunately, they did not. The first film is called 勇敢者的游戏 with the addition of a possessive article. When Zathura was released, the “的” was removed.
For basing their name off the sequel and losing the Guns N’ Roses reference, this translation gets the lowest possible rating.
公牛历险记 (Gōngniú lìxiǎn jì)
Title – Ferdinand
Translation – Bull Adventure
Rating – 4/10
Considering the Chinese title appears to have taken the same route as Coco, it may come as a surprise to many that the rating is lower. That is because of the banality and non-specificity of the name is more pronounced in this film one.
奇迹男孩 (Qíjī nánhái)
Title – Wonder
Translation – Miracle Boy
Rating – 6/10
Chinese translators often feel the need to ensure that all titles contain a tangible noun of some kind. So instead of simply “miracle”, which would have been more accurate, they needed to attach it to an object that the viewers will be able to see. The main character of the film is a young boy, so…
移动迷宫3：死亡解药 (Yídòng mígōng 3: Sǐwáng jiě yào)
Title – Maze Runner: The Death Cure
Translation – Mobile Maze 3: Death Antidote
Rating – 7/10
Points are given for consistency with past movies in the franchise (although the original title has problems of its own). The latter half is also very accurate, so the reader may be confused as to why the score is as low as it is. The simply reason is the numbering, which doesn’t exist in the original.
环太平洋：雷霆再起 (Huán tàipíngyáng: Léitíng zàiqǐ)
Title – Pacific Rim: Uprising
Translation – Circling The Pacific: Thunder Resurgence
Rating – 7/10
Similar to Maze Runner above, the second Pacific Rim maintains continuity with its previous iteration. Where it differs is how the post-colon section fails to correspond with the English title. Fortunately, it makes up for this mistake by forgoing the sequel-number indicator.
All images from Mtime