Some films have a “So Bad, it’s good” quality about them. Whether it’s Denise Richards with a great big smile on her face while the universe comes under attack by space bugs in Starship Troopers or two bumbling idiots dragging their dead boss around the Hamptons pretending he is still alive in Weekend as Bernie’s, there are some films that are fun besides their countless flaws. We’re pointing the finger right at you as well Fast and Furious franchise. The Great Wall starring Matt Damon and directed by legendary Chinese filmmaker Yimou Zhang seems to be a film that could fall into the mindless Popcorn Fun category. The film takes place in China during the Song Dynasty where we finally get the real answer as to why the Chinese built the massive wall that cut through the landscape for miles on end. It wasn’t to block western invaders looking for Black Powder like Damon’s mercenary archer, but to keep out swarms of monsters not of this world from taking over the Capital and eventually the world.
The Great Wall sounds like silly fun mixing myths with history. The film is filled with monsters attacking the famous structure while a uniquely trained army which includes foot soldiers, archers and gymnasts (not kidding) serve as defense and unwillingly food for the creatures and their queen who controls them. The problem is The Great Wall tries to take itself too seriously instead of having fun with the fictional subject matter. Damon attempts some kind of European accent that sounds part Irish, but it’s hard to tell. At times Damon even gives up on the accent all together and talks in his regular voice taking a cue from Kevin Costner in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. There are also way too many generic characters including the friendly young soldier, the young General who now has to lead against impossible odds and the smart mouthed traveling partner (Pedro Pascal of Narcos). These dispensable players are thrown at you with zero depth causing the audience to not care about what they do or their fates by the time the credits roll. In Director Yimou Zhang’s defense, he was working with a script that had six credited writers (never a good sign) including Max Brooks of World War Z fame and director Edward Zwick. Obviously way too many cooks in the writing kitchen when it came to creating the script foundation for The Great Wall.
The main problem more than anything in The Great Wall is for a film that carries a $150 million plus price tag, it looks cheap. Director Yimou Zhang does have some moments of beauty with his colorful costumes and set design, but for the most part the director goes over the top with the CGI that looks like it was made ten years ago. The swarm of creatures are just too much at times where it moves past dumb fun and gets to be plain old ridiculous realizing these human wouldn’t stand a remote chance of defeating the beasts. The film also seems to rip off other franchises in certain scenes like Lord of the Rings, Starship Troopers and even Captain America with Damon throwing a shield like a disc. The Great Wall tries to be special like the monument it is named after, but in the end it’s a big computer generated mess with a poor performance by Damon.
Overall, I give The Great Wall 1.75 out of 4 stars.
Read all T.M.’s reviews here–>Entertainment Now with T.M. Powell