The famous Great Wall was built to keep out the evil hordes: people
with a lot of problems, drug dealers, murderers rapists, and (I assume)
some good people. Wait a minute, wrong wall.
Regardless, The Great Wall embraces a new direction currently seen in
filmmaking. Many movies, like Transformers 4, have featured Chinese
locations prominently with the hope of getting into Chinese theaters.
The rules to get into Chinese theaters are long and complex and the
rules as to how much money an American studio can make from those
theaters is even more complex. So, US-Chinese co- productions like The
Great Wall could become the rule rather than the exception.
Consequently, the story behind how a movie like The Great Wall gets
produced, is way more interesting than the movie itself. The Great Wall
is movie where things happen not out of natural plot development or
character motivations, things happen because the script says they
The best example of this lack of plot development is the revelation
that the creatures made it to the other side of the wall. How they
accomplish this daunting feat is neither explained nor shown to the
audience. Suddenly, a guard tells Matt Damon that it's happened and
that's that. Perhaps the creatures paid a toll?
Speaking of which, the creatures and main villain of this movie are
simply put ugly green poorly rendered computer dogs. Not creepy ugly
like the Predator or Alien. Just ugly ugly. Additionally, they express
no motivation or intelligence for their machinations beyond the need to
get food for their queen. That's the limit of their complexity, this
from the main antagonists throughout the movie.
I guess I could go into Willem Dafoe's role in the movie, but then I'd
quickly be doing more work on his character than the script did.
Further, Matt Damon's character has a friend (played by Pedro Pascal)
that travels with him throughout the story whose contribution is nearly
In fact, one could streamline this script and tell the same story with
just Matt Damon's character and a selection of random guards. One could
argue that all the extra story lines and characters are red herrings.
However, that would imply that these elements at one time seem
important. They never do. The movie is nothing more than generic
throwaway monsters versus shallow throwaway heroes.
Sadly enough, some good ideas are here. For instance, to signal how
they'll attack the creatures the soldier use drumbeats to unify their
action quickly. This is not only a nifty military technique, but, more
importantly, provides a good driving bass to the action and,
unfortunately, is criminally underused here. The use of color on the
Chinese soldiers is frequently beautiful. However, the way they attack
the amassing hordes from the wall swiftly ranges from very cool to very
Presumably, they could create a decent video game from this movie,
which brings us full circle to the techniques movie makers embrace to
I watched trailers for this movie and although I didn't expect great
art, I did think it could be dumb fun. Well, I was half right.