The Great Wall Review
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The Great Wall of China is an astonishing landmark—which, of course, means it’s appeared in countless films through the years. But I think it’s safe to say that you’ve never seen the Wall used to battle the kind of enemy found in The Great Wall.

The Great Wall stars Matt Damon as William, a mercenary who’s traveling through China in search of the magical black powder that will make him rich beyond his imagination. But then he and his traveling companions are attacked at night by a mysterious creature—and William and his remaining companion, Tovar (Pedro Pascal), are taken captive at the Great Wall by an army known as The Nameless Order. They soon find themselves in even more danger as the Wall comes under siege by a mass of vicious green beasts known as the Tao Tei. And as Tovar plans his escape, William joins with the Order to plan their next battle.

Helmed by Chinese director Zhang Yimou, The Great Wall is an eye-catching adventure with a grand, epic feel and a strange touch of big, green, fanged fantasy.

Admittedly, it certainly has its share of flaws. The story—complete with its otherworldly beasts—is bizarre. Instead of adding something new and exciting to the story, the Tao Tei mostly feel off-putting and out of place. Meanwhile, William’s role as the opportunistic warrior and thief who chooses to stay and fight out of a sudden surge of honor and virtue feels a little overplayed and over-dramatic. But, for the most part, it’s just a brainlessly entertaining experience.

The action sequences are massive, with the members of The Nameless Order battling huge swarms of Tao Tei in creative ways. There are big, bright explosions and clever weapons (like gigantic scissors that slice anything that attempts to climb the wall) and colorful warriors soaring through the air to attack the advancing hordes. It’s bold an thrilling—not to mention a striking spectacle.

Visually, The Great Wall is stunning. It’s vibrant and colorful when it could have looked dull and drab. With an enormous army battling a multitude of monsters, there’s just so much to see here—and the spectacle of it all makes it an odd but intriguing film.

It may not be a smart adventure or a big, rousing summer blockbuster kind of film, but The Great Wall is definitely a fascinating one. You probably won’t be captivated by the story—but its striking design and immense battle scenes will definitely keep you entertained.

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