The Great Wall (2017) Movie Review

By: Movie Snurb (Four Beers) –

William (Matt Damon) is a warrior for hire, and he and his right hand man Tovar (Pedro Pascal) are in China looking for black powder. One night they’re ambushed by a big green lizard monster, which they kill. Then the next day they are being chased and come upon the Great Wall and are taken prisoner. However, they prove useful in fighting these lizard monsters and William decides to fight these monsters to save humanity.

A Toast

Yimou Zhang is a brilliant director. He has a great ability to create beautiful, mesmerizing set pieces, costumes, and fight choreography, and all of his signatures are here in this film. I saw this film in IMAX 3D and was not disappointed. The soldiers’ uniforms were beautiful and brightly colorful. Some of the set pieces are wonderful, for instance inside the emperor’s palace late in the film. The 3D was also used magnificently; I’m not shocked Zhang was able to accomplish this. There were even two scenes in this film that are reminiscent of his earlier films Hero and  House of Flying Daggers. Not all of the scenes are great, but the 3D scenes that work are amazing to watch.

Just one of the reminiscent scenes from House of Flying Daggers.

Beer Two

That being said, at times the 3D was a little too much. There are scenes that you’ll feel overwhelmed by the amount of things flying at you in 3D. Along with the amount of things coming at you, there were multiple times during the battle scenes when it is hard to distinguish what was going on; sometimes it was a real mess. Not only that, but at times the CGI was just plain bad. With a budget of 150 million dollars I feel like the CGI should look immaculate; instead at times it looks like bad effects from the 1980s.

Not this bad, but it wasn’t good.

Beer Three

The story was sloppy, to be nice. It was lazy writing and at times I was bored with the film, just waiting for the fighting to start up again. None of the characters were fleshed out, which was a shame because Commander Lin Mae (Tian Jing) could’ve been a really interesting and a powerful female character for young girls to look up to. She’s a strong female leader who isn’t sexualized; however, she isn’t fleshed out at all and alas she’ll be completely forgotten instead of revered.

Beer Four

Lastly, I wanted to avoid this subject because I feel like it’s hacky with all of the Millennial “outrage”, however I wish this wasn’t an American-produced film. I’m going to avoid the term “whitewashing” because this was an American produced film with a lead character who is from Western Europe. “Whitewashing” would be taking this Chinese-produced film and replacing a main character with a Chinese character. However, I really wish this would’ve been a Chinese film in Chinese with an all Chinese cast and perhaps even been a Chinese folklore film.

White man must save the day!


There was some good in this film, but unfortunately there was too much bad weighing it down. Yimou Zhang is a brilliant director and I’m glad he finally got the chance to make a Hollywood blockbuster. I hope he gets another chance with a big budget. I know Zhang has another brilliant film inside of him, unfortunately it wasn’t The Great Wall.

The Great Wall (2017) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: every time something comes at the screen.

Take a Drink: every time Matt Damon kills a monster.

Do a Shot: every time you think this film would’ve been better w/o Matt Damon

Do a Shot: for every vibrant use of color.

Pound a Beer Before the Film: to deal with the barrage of imagery coming at you.

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