Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Great Wall - Movie Review

The Movie: The Great Wall

The Director: Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of Flying Daggers}

The Cast: Matt Damon, Tian Jing, Andy Lau, Pedro Pascal, Hanyu Zhang, Lu Han, Kenny Lin, Eddie Peng, Ryan Zheng, Karry Wang, and Willem DeFoe.

The Story: European mercenaries searching for black powder become embroiled in the defense of the Great Wall of China against a horde of monstrous creatures. -

The Review:
Zhang Yimou has a history of making movies that are big, bold, and visually striking so giving him the keys to a fantasy film about a Chinese army specially trained to do battle with a horde of monsters on China's Great Wall was pretty much a no brainer. Zhang packs the movie with a non stop barrage of breath taking action sequences that seem to continually raise the bar as the story unfolds. The production designers and fight coordinators did a great job of coming up with some really cool and innovative battle techniques and fighting styles on both sides of the wall. The army is split into five divisions, made visually obvious by the color of their armor, each of which is extremely proficient in a particular type of combat. The use of color not only helps the audience keep track of what is happening at any given time, it actually looks really cool on screen and especially against the muted, earthy colors of the attacking monsters.

The characters played by Matt Damon and Pedro Pascal are basically meant to help the audience follow along and make sense of all the mayhem happening around them. Of course, they are the classic unlikely hero types that we have seen maybe a few too many times and I feel like a better movie could have been made if it wasn't necessary to secure a global box office with recognizable faces. If given the chance, Andy Lau and Tian Jing could have easily carried the story without the help of non Asian actors but I get why the film was put together the way it was. Studios like to have all the money from everywhere they can get it.

The Verdict:
The Great Wall is a big, bold, and visually striking action movie that is just massive in scale with tons of cool stuff to look at on the big screen. There is so much to like about the movie and the positives definitely outweigh any negatives so definitely give this one a chance.

I did not see the movie in either 3D, IMAX, or IMAX 3D although IMAX might be worth a look as the 6k Alexa 65 camera from Arri was used for at least a few scenes. This is the same camera used to film portions of Rogue One and The Revenant.

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