“The Great Wall” Review ✦✦✧✧✧

18 February, 2017

Director: Yimou Zhang
Screenwriters: Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro, Tony Gilroy
Directors of Photography: Stuart Dryburgh, Xiaoding Zhao 
Matt Damon, Andy Lau, Tian Jing

Synopsis: While on the hunt for a mysterious black powder, a European man finds himself imprisoned within the Great Wall of China where he joins forces with the enemy to fight against a relentless horde of monsters who threaten their survival.

Great Wall Review:

Symptomatic of Hollywood’s ever-expanding interest in seeking out the Chinese market, “The Great Wall” sees studio execs chasing the money, allowing the movie’s cross-continental creators to nab an A-List star in a bid to reel in viewers from around the globe. The result is a strange overlap between Western and Eastern sensibilities in a film bolstered by foreign funding but made in line with the expectations of a Chinese audience. In the same style as Cheang Pou-soi’s “The Monkey King,” “The Great Wall” is pasted over noticeable CGI backdrops and its dizzying and rather concentrated focus on spectacle is indicative of a filmmaking method that prizes style over substance.

Like a video game transformed into a 3D fantasy epic, “The Great Wall” refuses to conceal its exhibitionistic motives as characters fly through the air at high speed, pummelling their way through an endless swamp of computer-generated monsters. Excessive and unrealistic in its depiction of swarms of terror, the movie is centred on patterns of combat rather than hard-hitting character development as a myth passed down the generations flops onto screen like it was copied and pasted directly from a unfinished Adobe file.

Like a cheesy “Game of Thrones” episode, “The Great Wall” is rather hilarious in all of its grandness and it walks an unstable tightrope between seriousness and self-parody as its mixed styles refuse to mesh into a comfortable whole. While Matt Damon delivers his usual straight-faced performance, the colourful folktale he finds himself wrapped up in renders his presence laughable as he fails to mirror the badly dubbed and overly-emotive cadence of his fellow performers. For the unfamiliar, the movie is overwhelmingly silly and for the already initiated it’s a forgettable take on an already strange legend.


Review Date
The Great Wall