The great wall of China is an impressive piece of engineering. But what if the reason behind its construction was something more deadly than we ever imagined?
Traveling to the Far East in search of the fabled black powder is a group of warriors for hire, including William – Matt Damon, looking a bit like John Travolta in Battlefield Earth, and with a wavering, non-descript accent. Irish perhaps? William and his companion are caught between a rock and a hard place. That is to say – between a pursuing posse of bandits, and a host of Chinese warriors guarding the largest fortified wall they’ve ever seen. Taking their chances surrendering to the army, they’re in for a disappointing surprise. It turns out they are just in time to be witness to a recurring attack by otherworldly creatures hellbent on devouring and multiplying and rampaging human kind. Conveniently they’re qualified to lend a hand and may even hold a key to winning this war.
Not as much of a “white savior” feature as you might fear, but not quite as far from it as you might hope, The Great Wall is the first Hollywood production by acclaimed director Zhang Yimou, counting on Damon to get Americans into seats.
If you’ve seen the trailer, you know what to expect. No more, and certainly no less. The movie is riddled with holes in plot, logic, and physics, but it doesn’t care in the least. It takes the simple yet ridiculous concept of creatures (aliens? demons? something else) attacking the great wall of ancient China and runs with it with what could be described as gleeful abandon.
Aesthetically a combination of Japanese anime, Chinese martial arts movies, and Tolkien’s Elvish warriors, this movie is a sight to behold. With ridiculous stunts, lavish costume armor, and weapons both impractical and insane, it’s a blast and a half. The story is, well, there’s not much of one. It’s pretty straightforward though it does manage to (mostly) steer clear of a number of cliches. It reminded me of movies from a time where films were a crazy escape from reality and a chance to tell a tale that didn’t make much sense and not worry about it too hard. I’m talking about epic adventures like The Never Ending Story. It doesn’t worry too much about silly things like whether something is a good idea. It looks cool, so go for it. And boy do the battles look cool.
Surely a massive CGI fest, the graphics are nonetheless top notch and not often distracting. I especially liked the creature design – in a world where cgi monsters barrage our senses and all blend together, these are better and more interesting than most. There are a couple of painful green screen moments but for the most part it’s pretty seamless. Certainly no Gods of Egypt. This is the movie that Gods of Egypt wishes it could have been.
The Great Wall is kinda dumb. But I kinda loved it.
Mrs. Hamster did not screen this film
Brother Hamster says:
“Matt Damon is Legolas in Lord of the Rings China. Pretty fun and entertaining movie with some of the most illogical defense tactics I’ve ever seen.”
My rating: Three out of five hats
The Great Wall puts 3,326 theaters, including IMAX 3D, under siege February 17