‘The Great Wall’ Fails to Stop Critiques
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There is some enjoyment to be found in The Great Wall. In terms of a good movie, no; more like in the appeal of something found on the SyFy channel or Direct-to-DVD pile. The cartoony plot is about the Chinese Empire defending the world from an army of monsters. What kind of monsters you may ask? The kind that emerged from a fallen meteor and since then, the Great Wall was built in order to withstand their attacks. Basically, they’re aliens. Matt Damon (The Bourne Trilogy) and Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones) play two mercenaries who are out to steal gunpowder, only to find themselves caught in the cross fires of both armies and wind up aiding the Chinese in their fight against these extra-terrestrial brutes.
I couldn’t help but compare The Great Wall to the 1995 film Waterworld and was surprised on the similarities they both shared. From the movie beginning with the Universal logo then zooming in on the globe as the audience is given the opening exposition, instead of a post-apocalyptic water environment we have a monster invasion or in this case an alien invasion minus the flying saucers in an ancient time period and lastly, switch out Kevin Costner with Matt Damon as the lead hero who wants nothing to do with the main conflict but gets dragged into it anyway. Among the positive parallels the visuals, production design and costumes are impressive along with an epic score and creative combat sequences; Waterworld with it’s Mad Max look in the ocean, whereas The Great Wall has a Lord of the Rings feel with its battle sequences. Ambitious projects that unfortunately lacked spark.
In a bigger coincidence, The Great Wall is already sharing Waterworld’s feat of box-office disaster. That’s a shame, with reports of being the most expensive film ever made in China and marking Zhang Yimou’s English language film debut, (helming critically acclaimed martial arts films like Hero and House of Flying Daggers) it’s not performing well at the box-office. To sum it up, The Great Wall is short of a few bricks to render it completely sturdy. It looks nice but lacks that majestic touch.
Fun Fact: The screenwriting team consists of Max Brooks, author of the zombie apocalypse novel, World War Z and Edward Zwick who’s no stranger to Asian culture having directed The Last Samurai starring Tom Cruise training as a samurai.