The Great Wall – During the Song dynasty, European mercenaries, William and Tovar, arrive at The Great Wall of China on their search for gunpowder. Taken prisoner, they discover that the Wall is due to be attacked by terrible monsters and they become embroiled with the fight. With the monsters seeming to be impossible to defeat, the two may hold the key to stopping them but with their desire to make their escape with the army’s gunpowder, will their consciences get the better of them to push them into helping their new allies?
The Great Wall (2017) – Director: Yimou Zhang
Running Length: 93 mins
Starring: Matt Damon, Pedro Pascal, Tian Jing
‘THE GREAT WALL’ REVIEW
The ancient and spectacular Great Wall of China has been the source of many stories throughout history and ‘The Great Wall’ brings to life a fantastical tale of it being used to stave off an attack from bloodthirsty monsters. The glorious set and costume design helps to bring this sumptuously over-the-top movie alive and while there are numerous silly aspects (the bungee jumping warriors instantly spring to mind), every odd addition makes complete sense within its own world.
Matt Damon as William is, as ever, very watchable as the lead and his brother-in-arms, Tovar (played by Pedro Pascal) is charismatic, likeable but ultimately (and unashamedly) not so altruistic. Having an established Chinese director helps the movie be less a Matt Damon vehicle and more a movie that Matt Damon happens to be in, which in turn showcases the talents of the numerous Chinese actors whose characters have so much more to lose. It is a shame that the character Ballard (played by Willem Defoe) had very little to do, he was simply a way to move the plot forward but this barely takes anything away from an otherwise exciting and entertainingly fun film.
While it may have been slated by many critics, ‘The Great Wall’ deserves so much more praise, it isn’t perfect but that’s fine – it doesn’t try to be a sombre historical tale. Much like ‘Cowboys and Aliens’, ‘The Great Wall’ deftly handles a ridiculous concept with just enough seriousness to be believable, fantastic visuals and a solid plot to keep audiences hooked until the credits roll.
IS ‘THE GREAT WALL’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
Towards the beginning of the movie, a man has a large, bloody wound which is seen in close-up but with darkened lighting for about a second. Shortly afterwards, other characters talk about him saying ‘he won’t make it, the wound is festering’. Two characters from this group are unexpectedly dragged away in the middle of the night while another two attempt to see their adversity, they are effectively blind and the hear menacing animal noises – growls and shrieks close-by making this section which lasts two to three minutes very intense.
The monsters themselves look very frightening. They have huge mouths which are full of razor-sharp teeth and open wide when they roar. There are numerous battle scenes resulting in warriors being snatched into the jaws of these creatures and often several others leap on top to maul them. A second or so of screaming is occasionally heard from a distance but otherwise these deaths are not lingered upon.
There is an unexpected ‘jump scare’ where during a particularly quiet moment, a creature’s arm suddenly reaches out and grabs an incidental character, dragging him off the Wall to his doom. Shortly after, two characters are surrounded by several of the creatures but, due to mist and smoke, they are unaware of their whereabouts until they suddenly appear, leaping out almost on top of them so they have to move quickly in order to protect themselves. This scenes lasts for around ten minutes and is very intense throughout.
More than one established character is killed, one in particular causes another to be devastated but while their grief is clear to see, they remain stoic which lessens the emotional impact of this death.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
VERDICT – IS ‘THE GREAT WALL’ FOR KIDS?
‘The Great Wall’ is a wonderfully enjoyable movie with genuine ‘edge of your seat’ action sequences and a great plot which is easy to follow. Due to violent scenes and deaths of several established characters, we feel this movie is appropriate for kids aged nine and over.
- Violence: 3/5 (lots of incidental characters are killed, however suffering is never lingered upon and very little injury detail is ever seen)
- Emotional Distress: 2/5 (a couple of characters sacrifice their lives for people they care about)
- Fear Factor: 3/5 (several intense scenes which often last a few minutes at a time)
- Sexual Content: 0/5
- Bad Language: 1/5 (infrequent mild cursing and blasphemy)
- Dialogue: 0/5
- Other Notes: Deals with themes of greed, redemption, betrayal, teamwork, sacrifice, friendship and loyalty.
Words by Laura Record