I was surprised, I was definitely surprised.
I wouldn’t call The Great Wall a “great movie”. It is a niche genre piece mixing a big of Hong Kong fighting with some fantasy type action. I was really hesitant about the movie though. A Chinese movie, set in a “vaguely” historical China with what I was worried would be the “Great White Hope”. However it wasn’t like that at all. In fact there was a subtle (or not so subtle) reversal of that.
Instead of him saving everyone, he is saved by them. The movie portrays the greed of capitalism as bad, and the rich elite as just useless. Instead it is those who serve selflessly who are revered in the movie. Definitely Chinese politics are involved in the movie, but maybe I am not so different with my outlook that I found it an overall good message.
Matt Damon is pretty good in the movie as the angry, greedy white boy from the crusades, with Pedro Pascal as his sidekick (you may know him as Oberyn Martell from Game of Thrones) who is even more greedy. They are met by one other white person, William Defoe as a very back stabbing kind of capitalist merchant as well. Matt Damon changed over the course of the movie, Pedro changed maybe a little, and Dafoe did not (and suffered for it).
While those actors were as good as to be expected I absolutely loved Jing Tian (she is also starring this year in Kong: Skull Island, and Pacific Rim 2). True she didn’t speak a lick of English, but she still portrayed a real badass, and had an intensity. Since I am seeing both of her other movies, I am excited to see her in those.
Overall though the movie was pretty good. People complained about the CGI, but I didn’t notice too much. People said it was really colorful, such as the uniforms, sadly my colorblindness means I missed that part, but I still liked it.
However, all that said, it was an ok movie. Not super great, but definitely not as bad as people had said it would be.
The good: action sequences were good, Ms Tian was good, and it was entertaining.
The bad: It is popcorn material, you will forget about it within a few weeks (or sooner) and the political message was a little ham handed.