I know you won’t believe it, but “The Great Wall” is actually quite enjoyable. Most people, including me, really wanted to hate on this movie — but I simply can’t because it’s really, really good looking (and a whole lot of fun). I’ve seen thousands of movies over the years and it’s amazing when one can surprise, entertain and excite me like this one did, especially when I went in with zero expectations. This is a visually stunning period fantasy / action film done right, and it’s directed in the most spectacular fashion by Yimou Zhang.
Matt Damon is horribly miscast as a European mercenary in China who finds himself at the center of a defensive battle to protect the Great Wall from a vicious army of mythological dragon-like creatures. The film is not particularly well written but the action is crazy inventive and creative, and I appreciate that the story is quickly paced and gets right to the point. There’s not too much backstory at all, and the spectacular battle sequences start quickly and swiftly.
The sheer scale of the pageantry on display here is an impressive, dazzling spectacle, from the truly first-class special effects to the exciting, action-packed staging of the gorgeously executed battle scenes. The inventive action scenes manage to remain loyal (and make total sense) to the historical time period in which the film is based. The imaginative costumes are strikingly beautiful and the drum-heavy native original score is terrifically memorable. The film is rumored to have had an astronomically high three-figure budget, and it shows.
This movie is a ton of fun and I can’t believe I am saying this, but make sure you shell out the extra bucks to see it in 3D. It’s more than worth it for the thrills from watching flaming arrows and fanged killer lizards practically leaping off the screen and into your lap.
I dreaded having to review this film, but I loved it.