The Great Wall movie is one of those monster flicks that starts abruptly without offering you any perspective. Unlike mythical horror movies that are built on sheer horror and tons of suspense, The Great Wall movie doesn’t bank on the fear factor rather chooses to go with the action platitude to the finish line. It ends up becoming a resounding dud shot when you can see through a plot that sounds very cliched, can feel the shallowness of its scenes and literally read the flick’s apparent contrivance.
Theme and Plot of The Great Wall Movie
The Great Wall movie tried to cash in on the myth surrounding China’s biggest miraculous defense. It created a story out of a mere lore and tried to throw in some tangible veracity to it. Yes it shows the wall in a light that would leave children fantasizing for days.
In doing so, its writers made the wall something it couldn’t have possibly been even in a dream. The movie tried to aggrandize the then extant Song Dynasty scenes with epic armies that acted tough and in unison. They responded pretty well to each other using signs and noises a normal guy couldn’t possibly register.
Max Brooks, Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz created alien mythical monsters that visited every 60 years trying to overrun the planet with huge numbers. At the center of them is a queen, a gigantic monster who stays protected by her very own circle of trust er…monsters who do not let anyone get near her. She is calling the shots for her race and yes, she is literally yowling for a boss fight.
Imperial Court has assigned the job of protecting its realm to a military order called The Nameless Order. Our hero William portrayed by Matt Damon who is way too heroic for a hero, and who barely makes mistakes, is a complete badass with his bow. He has Tovar played by Pedro Pascal for a sidekick who keeps questioning his choices. Both are mercenaries who accidentally run into the Imperial Court in their search for black powder, an ancient moniker for what we brand today as gunpowder.
Willem Defoe‘s character Ballard was terribly written. You could feel him disappear without any bang, oh wait! there was one for him alright. Pleasant escape!
The Good Things
If you try to focus on the good things the movie retains the first thing would be the music by Ramin Djawadi. He is capable of giving you goosebumps with his score. You could feel that emanating through the reverberation that drums produced in The Great Wall movie’s trailer.
Then there is that rare grim attitude Matt Damon wears most of the times, where you can see him delivering lines with a steady resolve. There is one particular scene where we find Lin Mae portrayed by Tian Jing trying to make William understand trust. She tries to coax him into jumping that she wouldn’t let go. But William, who is used to not trusting anybody chooses not to, and responds:
I’m alive today because I do not trust anybody.
Then you cannot overlook the colossal army of The Nameless Order either. It’s huge. The way they move, the way they walk, the grandeur and the resplendence is beyond comparison. It is enough to put you in awe.
Then there are the monsters that are intelligently thought of with the concept of the queen at the center of it. A well thought of fantasy.
Now that we have good things out of the equation, let’s move on to the ugly part. There were plenty of issues starting with the creation of fear. With movies that deal with monsters and aliens, there has to be that morsel of fear lurking that should terrify its viewers. With the Chinese finding it not a big deal since they have always imaged beasts and monsters all their lives, it ends up becoming kind of a big deal, a factor that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Everything happens too fast, there is no slow graze to help one experience that fear. That’s one of the most important points that the flick overlooks. Apart from that you have the cliched storyline. You have seen this happen so many times that it compels you to yawn your way into it. Heroics included are too childish to be true. Also, climax isn’t exactly the movie’s forte. You know what will happen. No element of surprise there.
Then one of the most daft things the movie does lost in its splendour is with the human harpoons, the acrobatic soldiers or the crane troop. When you are left on the mercy of a rope and an army of monsters below you don’t go spearheading straight into their jaws. No matter how cool it looks. That’s leaping into the mouths of death. That’s what they do, and many pay the price too as was expected.
The Final Verdict
The Great Wall ends up becoming really mediocre if you look at what it has in store for you. A predictable story, monsters that you are going to probably forget with time. Some heroic stunts with arrows that look good but too good to be true. It all becomes forgetful in the end which should have been exactly the opposite of what we all wanted.
You can check out the trailer of The Great Wall here: