The Great Wall aims to tell a story about one of the legends based around this ancient wonder of the world. It does this by having Matt Damon fight legions of CGI dogs that climb up the side of the wall attempting to eat people. That's the general basis of the film and honestly was the main focus. William (Matt Damon) is heading out into the world seeking the mythical black powder so that he may leave a life of fighting for something more relaxed. On the way his group is attacked and through the might of just slicing he kills this strange creature, taking its arm as a souvenir. While moving ahead to escape raiders William and his last surviving friend Tovar (Pedro Pascal) end up at this massive wall.
The two are taken prisoner inside and a massive siege begins as these mythical creatures rush the wall. This initial scene was actually a grand opening presenting a huge battlefield with mass amounts of destruction and interesting combative measures. It just isn't followed by anything of particular strength with only minor bits of dialogue delivered with stiff performances. Carrying on with the story, William and his friend kill a few of these creatures on top of the wall gaining quick praise for their heroism which is odd since the entire army was fighting on this wall, but whatever. That's generally how things get going and it just goes forward from there with the wall being somewhat minor in the overall scheme of things.
The story for the film was incredibly weak offering only some interesting ideas while not bothering with character development or really a cohesive story. There were some unique creations presented across the film and while these were great along with the glorious battle scenes, it was just flimsily put together. The CGI for the most part was fine though a number of scenes did not look realistic. This was disappointing as it carried a strong sense of space and wonder with many scenes having a beautiful cinematic style. I was particularly fond of their use of color in the film not being afraid to embrace it as opposed to other films where it's just grimy and gray. There was a great scene near the end that featured some gorgeous colors and other moments where the army was lined up which looked fantastic. This was also the case with the armor of the soldiers being an array of designs and colors to add distinction that was perfect. The music of the film was decent though mostly just background noise only coming out quietly at times and very safe in its tone.
There were some horrible things going on in The Great Wall with action that just didn't entirely capture my attention. Much of the movie came across as boring with the actors themselves giving stiff performances. I certainly expect more from Matt Damon and Willem Dafoe with their attitude coming across as lazy here. I suppose Tian Jing as Commander Lin was decent though again not a stand out in a poorly acted situation. The CGI for the most part was solid and I loved the scale of battles though the enemy of generic dog like creatures didn't make those moments feel special. The creations they came up with for combat were great bringing intrigue and I really loved the use of 3D in the film. There were some cheesy elements there with certain moments, but for the most part it helped create a sense of space by having smoke or particle effect move outward. The Great Wall wasn't all that great despite having interesting ideas and a core concept that could have worked. Many things just fell apart here bringing a weak story and having a cast that didn't seem to care wasn't good either.
Review for The Great Wall at Theater with 3D Viewing
Screening Provided by NBC Universal