The Great Wall Review
Movies reviewThe Great Wall of China is an incredible achievement; built over several dynasties and stretching for more than 5,500 miles it has long been regarded as a architectural wonder and has inspired many stories. Tonight’s fable is one of pure fantasy and should be regarded as nothing but popcorn fodder; it’s certainly not aiming for a highbrow audience. Produced by both China and the US it tries to meld the two cultures into an action flick that both cultures will enjoy; the result is something unwieldy that tries to be all things to everyone but doesn’t quite live up to that expectation. The story is deceptively simple; two mercenaries traveling the East to procure (by any means) ‘Black Power’ and beset with hoarding bandits find themselves at the Great Wall, where they become embroiled, by virtue of their fighting prowess, in a war between man and alien creatures that are beset on overrunning the world – with only The Great Wall standing between salvation and destruction. Matt Damon and Pedro Pascal star as the mercenaries, while Tian Jing, Andy Lau and Ryan Zheng head up the eastern cast.
Celebrated director Yimou Zhang takes the reigns, but this time around he boils down any character development to the merest hint in favour of the next action scene, in a film that is clearly aimed at the ‘Transformers Generation’. The thing is, whilst the characterisation is slim, there is just enough to provide some emotional involvement, so some of the more daring do’s have a little impact. The relationship between the mercenaries, the feelings developing between William and General Lin do help to navigate the story between the battle scenes. The film almost feels lost between two cultures; that of the big action blockbuster and the more cerebral Eastern mystique, but it is far too rushed to give either any weight, because getting to the climax eventually feels a let-down; as if there is more to say. Nevertheless, as a slice of cheese it works well, it is not hateful, like a Michael Bay film, but equally it is nothing like Zhang’s own output, and that is, perhaps, its biggest problem – it has nowhere to sit. But not taking itself too seriously helps immensely!
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