The Great Wall - Quickie Review

What's good

- Intriguing and fairly creative premise
- Some nicely tense close quarter action scenes 
- Creative creature designs

It's a pretty creative and potentially good idea in desperate need of enough polish.

What's bad

- Lack of any relatable or interesting characters
- Throwaway performances by Matt Damon and Willem Dafoe
- Inconsistent CGI-effects quality
- Ever so occasional feeling of just CGI-overload
- Large scale battles lose their novelty after a short while

Damon and Dafoe mostly seem pretty unmotivated and bored during the film.


- The monsters attacking Northern China every 60 years...but why exactly every 60 years?

Even monster armies apparently have schedules to stick to...for some reason.

The Verdict

Serving as a big and quite costly movie project by Asian director Zhang Yimou that is supposed to entertain both Western as well as Asian audiences alike, The Great Wall's big names and loads of CGI-extravaganza attached to it sadly can't help it to overcome being anything more than a costly creature feature at straight-to-DVD level.
With a promising yet admittedly quite thin plot, the vast majority of the movie consists just out of mulitple large scale battles between the defending human front against the monsters with little backstory, sub-plots or any other means of characterizations given. Thus, big A-list actors like Matt Damon or Willem Dafoe are given only very little material to work with here, resulting in them giving only bored throwaway performances clearly done only for the money and no true passion behind it.
With a consistent focus being put on the multiple large scale battles in the movie, the attempts at making them feel epic definitely succeed at first, but there's no denying that even those quickly lose their novelty when you see the human armies fight against hordes of the same monsters over and over again, making the large scale battles feel somewhat repetitive in the longrun. This on the other hand lets the movie's occasional tense close quarter action scenes against the monsters (or one monster at a time) stand out though.

The Great Wall is a fairly creative and potentially great movie idea on paper in desperate need of polish. With that said, it needed enough relatable and likable characters to elevate it above the standard B-movie creature feature fare (it should've taken notes from Predator or Alien).
However, the final result is sadly a highly forgettable CGI-fest and little else, with inconsistent CGI-effects that feel numbing after a short while and Hollywood actors whose performances make them feel more like marketing instruments than any interesting characters to care for.
The Great Wall might be an entertaining little watch on home video if you are really bored and want to distract yourself for a short while, but absolutely nothing else.


Final Verdict: 3 out of 10

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