THE GREAT WALL

PRE-SCREENING MUSINGS

The memes, the controversy and the ultimate sense of unease surrounding acclaimed Chinese director Zhang Yimou’s first film in the English language—The Great Wall, for anyone asking—seem to have overpowered its actual marketing narrative, which Universal and Legendary surprisingly went soft on after. Nobody knew what to make of what they’d see as a potential audience, and nobody seemed to care either.

Except, the path to the cinemas for this one isn’t that dark if one’s honest.

THE MOVIE

The One Who Needs (No?) Saving

The Great Wall’s aims for greatness aren’t fully reached by the end of its runtime. Fortunately, of course, there are a lot of elements that make it watchable still. The primary savior of Yimou’s film, however, is the incredibly detailed world-building. There’s a lot of apparent hard work on bringing through its frightening nemeses and what it takes for humans to fight them. This kind of execution usually needs to be kept in consistent check through its pre-production. The very fact that the makers seem to have unwaveringly followed their convictions on the universe they’ve built deserves brownie points.

The performances come a close second. Matt Damon’s unsurprisingly dependable, but it is the confident Jing Tian who steals the show. Her assured performance and consistent delivery always seem to bring a certain air of austerity to the film. Pedro Pascal’s a fun bunch of nothing, and Willem Dafoe is shamefully wasted in a role that serves no purpose. But then, when the supporting performances are faltered by the writing of the characters they play, they’re more than made up for by the riveting atmosphere of the movie. From the creepy silences to the busy, noisy urgency, there’s a lot that contributes to the viewers’ overall experience.

The Great Wall is period-flavor Edge of Tomorrow without the Groundhog-Day conceit or McQuarrie’s ferocious screenwriting power.ANKIT OJHA

For a film this smart and qualitatively invested, you’d expect better. Instead, the viewers are unfortunately offered a period war story that succumbs to its tropes so faithfully it’s almost too easy to predict how this will end. Despite having been spared from disaster by Yimou’s self-assured storytelling, one wonders if the end-result could have been any different—considering, of course, that its trio of story writers includes Edward Zwick, and its wholly different trio of screenwriters a certain Tony Gilroy. Gilroy’s Duplicity and Zwick’s Love and Other Drugs proves their mettle for fine, boundary-pushing writing, and while it could be a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth, you’d have expected the two to have a certain onus to push a better narrative forward.

The One Who Ain't Takin' No BS from Nobody

VERDICT

Ultimately, The Great Wall is period-flavor Edge of Tomorrow without the Groundhog-Day conceit or McQuarrie’s ferocious screenwriting power. Succumbing too often to its tropes, it is saved by the fantastic storytelling prowess of its director Zhang Yimou, who manages to hold it all together with his incredible eye for detail. It boasts incredible smarts and authenticity, but can’t be reached out to more than once.

Still, it doesn’t harm to give it a gander if you haven’t, are curious, or have enough free time on your hands.

Watch the trailer here:

About the Author

Ankit Ojha

Facebook

Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

Star Rating:

Plot

Trapped in a web of lies and secrets, a corrupt trader unwittingly stumbles upon the ultimate horror surrounding The Great Wall—one that he ultimately needs to fight.

Cast

Matt Damon
Pedro Pascal
Jing Tian

Director

Zhang Yimou

Rated

PG-13

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Cast Matt Damon
Pedro Pascal
Jing Tian
Director Zhang Yimou
Star Rating

THE PLOT

Trapped in a web of lies and secrets, a corrupt trader unwittingly stumbles upon the ultimate horror surrounding The Great Wall—one that he ultimately needs to fight.

PRE-SCREENING MUSINGS

The memes, the controversy and the ultimate sense of unease surrounding acclaimed Chinese director Zhang Yimou’s first film in the English language—The Great Wall, for anyone asking—seem to have overpowered its actual marketing narrative, which Universal and Legendary surprisingly went soft on after. Nobody knew what to make of what they’d see as a potential audience, and nobody seemed to care either.

Except, the path to the cinemas for this one isn’t that dark if one’s honest.

THE MOVIE

The One Who Needs (No?) Saving

The Great Wall’s aims for greatness aren’t fully reached by the end of its runtime. Fortunately, of course, there are a lot of elements that make it watchable still. The primary savior of Yimou’s film, however, is the incredibly detailed world-building. There’s a lot of apparent hard work on bringing through its frightening nemeses and what it takes for humans to fight them. This kind of execution usually needs to be kept in consistent check through its pre-production. The very fact that the makers seem to have unwaveringly followed their convictions on the universe they’ve built deserves brownie points.

The performances come a close second. Matt Damon’s unsurprisingly dependable, but it is the confident Jing Tian who steals the show. Her assured performance and consistent delivery always seem to bring a certain air of austerity to the film. Pedro Pascal’s a fun bunch of nothing, and Willem Dafoe is shamefully wasted in a role that serves no purpose. But then, when the supporting performances are faltered by the writing of the characters they play, they’re more than made up for by the riveting atmosphere of the movie. From the creepy silences to the busy, noisy urgency, there’s a lot that contributes to the viewers’ overall experience.

The Great Wall is period-flavor Edge of Tomorrow without the Groundhog-Day conceit or McQuarrie’s ferocious screenwriting power.ANKIT OJHA

For a film this smart and qualitatively invested, you’d expect better. Instead, the viewers are unfortunately offered a period war story that succumbs to its tropes so faithfully it’s almost too easy to predict how this will end. Despite having been spared from disaster by Yimou’s self-assured storytelling, one wonders if the end-result could have been any different—considering, of course, that its trio of story writers includes Edward Zwick, and its wholly different trio of screenwriters a certain Tony Gilroy. Gilroy’s Duplicity and Zwick’s Love and Other Drugs proves their mettle for fine, boundary-pushing writing, and while it could be a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth, you’d have expected the two to have a certain onus to push a better narrative forward.

The One Who Ain't Takin' No BS from Nobody

VERDICT

Ultimately, The Great Wall is period-flavor Edge of Tomorrow without the Groundhog-Day conceit or McQuarrie’s ferocious screenwriting power. Succumbing too often to its tropes, it is saved by the fantastic storytelling prowess of its director Zhang Yimou, who manages to hold it all together with his incredible eye for detail. It boasts incredible smarts and authenticity, but can’t be reached out to more than once.

Still, it doesn’t harm to give it a gander if you haven’t, are curious, or have enough free time on your hands.

Watch trailer here:

About the Author

Ankit Ojha

Facebook

Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

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