Monday, July 17, 2017

Movie review: The Great Wall

 Set in 15th-century China, two British mercenaries stumble across the Great Wall while searching for black powder. Captured by the suspicious Chinese, the two quickly become involved in defense of the wall against supernatural creatures.

Matt Damon (William), Tian Jing (Commander Lin), Willem Dafoe (Ballard), Andy Lau (Strategist Wang), Pedro Pascal (Tovar), Hanyu Zhang (General Shao), Han Lu (Peng), Kenny Lin (Cmdr. Chen), Eddie Peng (Cmdr. Wu).

In search of black powder, mercenaries William and Tovar stumble upon the Great Wall of China on high alert. Captured by the Chinese, the two learn the wall was built not only to keep out invaders, but also supernatural creatures  which are expected to attack at any moment. Realizing the creatures are actually a global threat, William brings his considerable fighting skills and ingenuity to bear. The remainder of the film is a journey through unusual defense techniques with some drama for seasoning.

Damon was enjoyable as always but seemed to struggle a bit with this one. His accent was Irish, then changed, and finally disappeared while in a couple of other scenes he didn't even look like himself. Jing was enjoyable and smoothed out a few rough edges with good delivery. Dafoe almost felt pointless here in a small role he managed easily. Pascal delivered pretty well. Too bad his character was annoying. The remainder of the cast did fairly well.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds were decent but minimal. The bulk of the film it would appear is CGI based and fairly well done. Coloring is excessive in a few scenes and CGI action scenes are simply unrealistic. Dialogue was okay with heavy use of closed captioning at times. Sound could have used some work.

While the premise of the Great Wall being misunderstood as defense against humans rather than monsters sounds fun, the film simply does not deliver that story well. Instead what you have here is 103 minutes of CGI fueled sci-fi action with a thin plot apparently targeting younger audiences. As such, teens and those who enjoy sci-fi & fantasy films may enjoy this one.

With plenty of violence, some gore, and a bit of foul language, this should be fine for teens and above.

Released: 2017
Reviewed: 7.8.17
Star rating: 3 out of 5
Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Action Sci-Fi, Supernatural Sci-Fi, Adventure, Fantasy

copyright ©2017 Dave Riedel

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