The Great Wall review
A lot of the high box office numbers that were seeing in our summer blockbusters often has to do with China. The country’s high population, along with a rising film industry and a certain amount of American movies that are approved to be screened, have contributed to larger returns. Not only has it let some of last years films like Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory, and Zootopia to cross the one billion mark, but even movies that under performed in the U.S. like Terminator: Genisys, Transformers: Age of Extinction, and Warcraft to exceed enough to make up for a lackluster performance.
It would make sense that more films from China would receive a release in the States. So for today’s movie, what we have is a co-production between several companies from China and the U.S. There’s been a lot of controversy over the casting of it’s main actor Matt Damon. It’s common for these kinds of stories to make headlines in an age where tolerance is demanded. It’s only justified if the film is looked at fairly. Now that the movie has been released I can say that the claims of Damon being a “white savior” are unwarranted. The Great Wall actually has something different in store.
Sometime during the Song dynasty (around 970 to 1279 A.D.) in China, a group of mercenaries have been traveling for months in order to acquire the legendary “black power” that could change everything in Europe. During one evening where they’re resting, an mysterious monster attacks, leaving only William (played by Matt Damon) and Tovar (played by Pedro Pascal) left on the journey. Bandits chase after them the next day where they run into the Great Wall of China. To escape the bandits, the two guys let the Chinese army arrest them.
The specific army that took them in, the Nameless Order, was created by the emperor for the specific purpose of stopping these dragon-iguana creatures from making it into the country. From what were told by Commander Lin (played by Jing Tian), the monsters are intelligent and continue to keep trying. William manages to impress her with his archery skills and the fact that he fought off the same creature the other night. William also meets another European Sir Ballard (played by William Dafoe) who also came to Chine in search of the black powder. When it’s discovered that the creatures have been secretly digging a long hole that reaches the Forbidden City, the battle is on.
I have to give The Great Wall a lot of credit for wanting to give us a big fantasy epic that’s a good set up and is beautify photographed. But the casting of Matt Damon only proves that even a good actor like him can’t save a project with boring characters. I’m not sure what the intention was, but the character is dull and boring. Other then his archery skills, I don’t remember a single line from him. What’s worse is that the rest of the cast has little to do with their characters other then fighter and make an occasional battle speech.
The CGI on the creatures has mixed results with some looking clear but other scenes look obviously fake. I guess this has a similar problem that Warcraft had, which is having some good battle scenes but being stuck with people who are too bland to get invested in. The Great Wall does get a step up though for having a simpler story to follow that I was able to pick up quickly. So why couldn’t the three writers (including World War Z author Max Brooks) have made more interesting characters?
I’ll give this two and a half Great Walls out of five. I can only say that action fans will probably get their fill if their willing to follow bland people. The movie did look good on a big screen and will probably do so on anyone’s LCD TV. I hope that a better Chinese/American co-produced movie can come about, as something got lost in translation with The Great Wall.