Movie Review: The Great Wall (2017)

Directed by Zhang Yimou, The Great Wall tells the story of a legend that doesn’t actually exist. The legend of the “Tao Tie”, a hive-minded group of monsters that attack every 60 years or so to remind humanity of their greed and to keep it in check. “The Nameless Warriors” of the The Great Wall protect the rest of China in secret. The wall’s army is made of if different factions (again, not meant to be true) represented by different armor colors. Black are foot soldiers, purple are the death squads that descend the walls in battle, red are archers and the blue army are an all-female squad that attacks via bungee like attacks. *Mild Spoilers Ahead*

The film is just vastly hollowed. I am a big Matt Damon fan, and I wasn’t expecting the movie to be this bad. The cast is made up of a few Chinese favorites, Matt Damon, Willem Dafoe and Pedro Pascal. Matt and Pedro play a couple of wandering men determined to bring black powder back to the west. The pair are imprisoned, and while Pedro’s character is fixated in escaping with the black power (lead by Dafoe, who has been held captive for 25 years to protect the Wall’s secrets), Matt’s character is conflicted by the Nameless Warriors code of honour. He may have found himself a new calling. The cast is filled with great actors but the film still manages to make them look bad. The dialogue is so plain and naive. After the trailer came out, some people comment that Matt Damon looks like he is reading lines from the script with no emotion, and he is like that most of the time. But there is some funny banter between Matt and Pablo, which both have great chemistry together on screen. The dialogue feels like someone is whipping the writer and screaming “make it simpler! use more common words!” There is no build up of tension from the monster which makes the final big fight kinda disappointing. While I was really disappointed with some aspects of the film, not everything was bad.

The cinematography and 3-D effects were utilized very well. The set pieces were fantastic and the costume design was insanely creative. The colors were vibrant especially the color of the armor of the armies. The score composed by Ramin Djawadi (famously known for his score on Game of Thrones) creates a unique sound that mixes elements of war and of Chinese culture melodies. The comedic banter between Pablo and Matt were on point and it is always great to see Matt crack some jokes. Lastly, Jing Tian was fantastic as Commander Lin Mae. She was strong and boy she kicks major a**.

Overall, If you go into the film expecting an action movie with great cinematography and choreography, you won’t be disappointed. Just don’t go looking for too much. It’s not a deep movie. I felt it was along the same lines of The Mummy or Troy. I definitely recommend seeing The Great Wall in IMAX 3D.



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