The Great Wall: 3.5 Stars
This movie dispels the common perception of the Great Wall; that it was built to keep foreign invaders out (most notably the human kind i.e Mongols). According to this film, the wall was built to keep out a ravenous swarm of Taotie; monsters who emerge every 60 years from their underground lair in the Jade Mountain to wipe out humanity. They are led by a queen; that uses her telepathic sonar to communicate to her swarm of what actions or battlefield manoeuvres to take.
I once visited the wall and was impressed by the sheer size, detail and workmanship and how it winds along the shape and curvature of the land. I also learned of a common misconception that the wall is the only man-made structure that can be seen from space (this isn’t true). The fact of the wall and its immensity of scale was also the basis of historical doubt surrounding the travels of the, remarkably accurate, accounts of Marco Polo; who travelled there in the 13th century. He mentioned everything so well in detail about the royal court of Kublai Khan but failed to mention anything about the Great Wall. Which would have been quite noticeable for any venturing foreign tourist arriving by land from the west (he also mentions royal pet dragons but I digress).
Matt Damon is William Garin a 12th century mercenary who is in search of a powerful weapon. He is captured at the wall and taken in by the Chinese army. The night before he has managed to fight off a monster and cut off its arm/claw limb and lived to tell about it.
This impresses his captors and manages to spare his and his travelling comrade’s lives. Which is just as well, as the horde of monsters trying to breech the wall are back. Garin springs into action and gets to show off his archery skills and impresses his captors.
They want him to stay and help. He feels good about this and genuinely wants to stay and help save civilisation. However, his partner in crime (played well by Pedro Pascal) has other plans, once he discovers from Ballard an exile European (Willem Dafoe) the valuable material the army is concealing i.e. Black Powder also known as Gun Powder.
Our hero is unsure what to do. Should he stay and help save humanity and maybe even get lucky with a beautiful female commander of the elite Crane corp (Jing Tian) that has taken an interest in him? Or, should he take the loot, escape the army and make out like bandits back to Europe; saving his own life and profiting from the venture?
I like a good old fashioned conundrum like this in a story.
This is a joint Chinese/American blockbuster production (mainly Legendary and Universal Pictures) that is the largest of it’s kind ever produced in China (a sure sign of things to come). The movie is impressive for the breathtaking Crouching Tiger like acrobatic moves and special effects. What’s a bit corny is the monsters which, though vicious, look almost comical (they resemble an overgrown frog that bred with a strong green pony/dog hybrid).
Also, they suspiciously collect all their war dead and injured from the battlefield (every last one). This would certainly prick up my ears of a potential weakness to discover and sure enough they may have found something from Garin’s encounter. Will the wall be breeched and humanity lost or do they have a weakness that can turn the tide of inevitable defeat?
I saw the Great Wall in 3D and enjoyed this film for the story, special effects, costumes and themes.
Take Care & Cheers
Written: Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro, Tony Gilroy.
Directed: Yimou Zhang
All Rights Reserved Jason A Briggs Copyright ©2017