The Great Wall
The Great Wall: Void of Soul and Logic
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Given the Chinese film industry’s popularity worldwide, it was only a matter of time before they collaborated with Hollywood. Will there be an artistic blend that brings together both cultures? Will they manage to showcase the best of both worlds? Not this time, and definitely not in The Great Wall.
The first few minutes of the film focuses on two soldiers disguised as traders battling against all odds in their pursuit of the mysterious black powder, a substance that is said to create fire out of thin air. On their perilous journey, the two men, William Gavin (Matt Damon) and Pero Tovar (Pedro Pascal), march towards China despite losing twenty-one men.
Not very long after, Gavin and Tovar are captured by the’ Nameless Order,’ a group of soldiers tasked with protecting the secrets of The Great Wall. What follows is the story of how William and Pero put their self-centered mission on the backburner as they sets about gaining the Xin Ren (trust) of Commander Lin and her army, a much-needed ally in their quest to defeat the blood hungry Taotie from destroying their dynasty.
From starring in classics such as Good Will Hunting and The Departed to delivering stunning performances in mind-numbing films like The Martian and Interstellar, there is little that Matt Damon can’t do. But as an Irish soldier in The Great Wall, Matt Damon underwhelms, disappointing audiences with his underplaying tendency. Good actors such as Jing Tian and Pedro Pascal also succumb to clichés by playing one-dimensional characters that lack depth and meaning.
The otherworldly monsters, also known as Taotie, fail to interest audiences with their replaceable visual construction. After witnessing visually advanced creatures in films such as the Lord of the Rings and TV shows like the Game of Thrones, the Taotie fail to create any feeling of fear and intimidation. Their predictability fails to taunt the film’s viewers.
While director Zhang Yimou holds on to his artistic touch that is evident by the wonderful use of colors and astounding panoramas, he stays firmly away from his brand of cinema, instead delivering a run-of-the-mill Hollywood action film that is replicable, forgettable and has far too many logical loopholes.
We learn that the Taotie attack only once every sixty years, but Zhang Yimou fails to follow up on this with an explanation; the Chinese soldiers use monstrous weapons yet still use women as crane crops. A general lack of detail makes for obvious logical setbacks in the screenplay.
The climax fight during which they try taking down the Taotie queen is the only segment of the film that keeps you on the edge of your seat, albeit for a little while.
Overall, The Great Wall is a majestic visual spectacle that lacks soul and logic, thereby failing to fully engage the audience.