The Great Wall Isn't Even Good
The Matt Damon film is a mess, though it is pretty: critics
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2017 9:51 AM CST

(Newser) – Movie executives surely thought The Great Wall—a $135 million film shot entirely in China but starring American actor Matt Damon—had the potential to be a blockbuster in both the Chinese and North American markets. Unfortunately, they may have overlooked the fact that the movie about warriors and marauding beasts is kind of lame. It has a measly 38% rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Here's what critics are saying:

  • Jake Coyle senses a "whiff of propaganda" to the film and points to director Zhang Yimou's close relationship with the Chinese government. But that's hardly his only objection. The film "isn't well stitched together. Characters appear largely as cardboard cut-outs. The pacing is frantic. There's surprisingly little sense to the entire ordeal," he writes at the AP, concluding the flick is just a bad monster movie.
  • "The Great Wall isn't terrible—you might call it The Not-Bad Wall," but it should "be better, something more than a Lord of the Rings wannabe," writes Stephanie Zacharek at Time. It's visually appealing and the action scenes are "ambitious and massive … but there's little magic in them." She adds the film tries too hard "and to watch all that striving is simply exhausting."

  • At the Chicago Sun-Times, Richard Roeper sums it up like this: There are "admittedly gorgeous costumes and sets and some pretty cool visual effects, but scads of unintentionally hilarious dialogue and one of the most ludicrous story lines in recent memory." To boot, "this is one of Damon's very few underwhelming performances in one of the worst movies he's ever headlined." In other words, steer clear.
  • Leah Greenblatt is only slightly less harsh. The Great Wall "could be a really amazing video game" but it's "kind of a brick" of a movie, she writes at Entertainment Weekly. The CGI work is nothing special and does little to boost the "two-dimensional story line," but perhaps most problematic is that the film features yet another white man come to save his Chinese counterparts, she writes.
(This reviewer says the film is full of "cheap one-liners.")

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