Director: Yimou Zhang.
Cast: Matt Damon / Willem Dafoe / Tian Jing
Content Rating: PG 13 for sequences of fantasy action violence.
European mercenaries searching for black powder become embroiled in the defense of the Great Wall of China against a horde of monstrous creatures.
Note: I watched this in 3D in the cinema. It.Was.Terrifying. Cool, but terrifying. Mostly cool. But still terrifying.
I love action adventure films. I'll watch anything with action, and I'll enjoy it (most of the time).
And while I did like this movie, it wasn't that good.
The cinematography was excellent and the visuals were mind-blowing; incredible CGI, and on a massive scale. It reminded me of the scale of Lord of the Rings.
In addition, the action was terrific, exciting, and breathlessly intense. The cinematography showed this to its best advantage, and maybe it's just me, but there's something about Matt Damon with a bow and arrows....something....
(And that something is hot).
The snaps of humour were brilliant; superbly on point and frequently hilarious. The humour almost didn't fit with the rest of the film, but it scrapped by. And it was delightfully fun, although sometimes too "roll-your-eyes" worthy.
The cast was solid. Nothing outstanding, but they were decent; Damon can be very wooden, and unfortunately in this film I thought he was. That was really disappointing, but thankfully he did come alive a bit in the action sequences.
Now for the negatives:
The dialogue was awful. Painfully, sickeningly, terrible.The kind that makes you want to shake the characters (or the writers) and groan for all eternity. The humour did make some lines worth-while, but that was the exception.
The characters were flat, and the movie ended with their "arcs" half-finished. I say "arcs" because they were pathetically and clumsily written, and despite their potential, the characters tumbled into abandoned territory.
I must admit, though, I really liked the heroine, Commander Lin (played by Jing Tian). Yes, she was also flat, but she was a capable fighter and a strong woman, and I loved to see her fight alongside the boys and work in a leader position.
The plot was very weak. The story was threadbare, predictable, and entirely unoriginal. It had the cliches of "kill baddy and all the little baddies die too", "save the town, to save the world, from complete disaster", "one shot will do it so let's fail constantly until we're surrounded and there's one chance left", and so on. It was a boring plot, but the action was exciting.
One more thing: most of the non-action scenes felt forced, as if the writers were trying to make the story deeper than it was or "make something out of nothing", so to speak. It didn't work, and those scenes felt unnecessary and basically just "fillers" for the thin plot.
The Great Wall was an exciting action adventure film, but definitely no more than that. Its predictable plot, flat characters, and terrible dialogue drastically let it down.