The Great Wall
China is soon to become the number one market for films in the world. Naturally Hollywood is keen to shift some of its blockbusters to cater to the Chinese, but unfortunately movie executives seem to think that making the setting of their movie China is enough to get audiences to flock to the box office.
The Great Wall is the newest blockbuster this year, this time set in China during the middle ages. We follow a trade caravan that has been constantly raided by bandits; the only two survivors (Matt Damon and Pedro Pascal) reach the Great Wall where they find an army at the ready. These two traders are suddenly immersed in a battle for humanity between the forces at the wall and a mythical army of monsters called Tao Tei.
There are many problems with this film. One of the most prominent is that the script is particularly choppy with extremely superficial characters, unrealistic motivations, and too-convenient plot points. The film was essentially made for its battle sequences, but you kind of hope that you get something meatier with the character interactions.
Unfortunately, the cast isn’t able to make things much better; Matt Damon is more focused on getting his terrible accent right than anything else, and Pedro Pascal is wasted as a humorless comic relief. As for the Chinese actors, most of them are kept in the dark with the exception of Tian Jing who does well to hold her own, and brings a refreshingly feminist aspect to the film.
But all is not bad, and the film is salvaged by extremely well filmed and choreographed battle sequences, that remind one of some minor battles in The Lord of the Rings. And director Yimou Zhang is known for his very unique visual style, and he certainly brings a lot of eye candy to this film, with the extremely colorful costumes and armor.
But in the end the murky script and weak performances bog this down to an average studio money grab. You wonder if studios will finally learn that no matter how much CGI you throw onto the screen, audiences aren’t stupid.