Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Great Wall - Movie Review

Starring Matt Damon, Pedro Pascal, Tian Jing, Andy Lau, Willem Dafoe, Hanyu Zhang and Lu Han.
Written by Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro & Tony Gilroy.
Directed by Zhang Yimou.


Yimou has made some beautiful movies (House of Flying Daggers, Hero) and here he takes that aesthetic to an action movie that winds up feeling like The Two Towers' Battle of Helm's Deep.

Matt Damon and Pedro Pascal are two "Westerners" around 1000 A.D. who've gone to China to search for the black powder, the weapon that will make any army powerful. They are captured and brought to the Great Wall, where they witness why the wall was built. It's protection against strange creatures who attack and feed.

The swarming CGI lessens the suspense. My mind kept wanting to compare them to the zombies in World War Z or the bugs in Starship Troopers. (Not surprised to learn that WWZ's Max Brooks helped develop the story.) The human stuff, what there is of it, is usually good. Damon doesn't ruin the movie, and Pascal seems to have found this niche as the sidekick (similar to his function on Narcos.) Tian Jing holds the screen as the young commander who convinces these two to fight for them, and I also dug seeing Andy Lau (Infernal Affairs) in an advisor role.

The thing that stayed in my head many days after - those nunchuck war drummers.

I also can't help but wonder if the reason Damon and Pascal are here is because the screenplay was written by Carlo Bernard & Doug Miro (Narcos) and Tony Gilroy (Bourne Ultimatum).

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