Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Great Wall review

The Great Wall is a movie about Donald Trump's plan to build a great wall to keep Mexicans out of America and make the country white again. Sorry, that's not right. Okay, The Great Wall is a historical movie about the struggle of the ancient Chinese to build a wall to keep nomadic barbarians from invading the country. Nah, too factual. It is a Hollywood and Chinese movie designed to make big bucks. How about this? The Great Wall is a movie in which the wall was built to keep out giant man eating lizards. And as goofy as the premise is, the giant lizard thing does have some basis in Chinese mythology.

The Great Wall starts out with two Europeans, William (Matt Damon) and Tovar (Pedro Pascal) fleeing from raiders as they journey into China in the search for gunpowder. They come across the Great Wall where Commander Lin (Jing Tian) leads a special force called The Nameless Order to fight giant lizards called the Tao Tei who come down from the mountains every sixty years to kill and eat the people. William and Tovar are taken prisoner but are released when Lin discovers that Williams has slain one of the beasts. Hey, maybe these white guys can help us.

Okay, I've criticized this movie about whitewashing before it came out. I blasted both Hollywood and the Chinese who seem to love white movie stars. Let me disclose this. I am a Chinese American. The film does not allay my fears. It is about a white guy who saves the Chinese or at plays a huge part in their salvation. That being said, I did go into this movie with an open mind.

Unfortunately, the problem with The Great Wall is the shoehorning of Matt Damon into this movie. The acting in the movie is fine. It is the plot line about William and Tovar seeking gunpowder that takes precious time away from the struggle of the Chinese to fight Tao Tie. You see Tovar is a mercenary and William is having trouble with his conscience. Fight with the Chinese or steal gunpowder and go home. What happens is the movie does nothing with its Chinese characters. I didn't know enough about them to care about the Chinese. Also, exposition is badly handled. Yes, the white guys could be the exposition but again the plot line about their greed takes away from it. I mean are the Tao Tei from outer space or did a meteor strike a mountain to release them? Director Zhang Yimou and his American screenwriters were too busy setting up large action set pieces to include any depth to this movie. You know you have a problem when you have to figure out the heroes plans after they initiate it.

If you're looking for campy fun, forget it. The Great Wall is well made but is not silly enough to laugh at. Though launching female warriors with ropes off the wall to fight the lizards was ridiculous. I mean they were dangling like human shish kabobs. The movie is mildly entertaining but not worth spending money at the theater. Wait for this one to come out on cable. The grade is B minus.

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