Bullet Points: The Great Wall
No one ever would have expected Matt Damon to fight Chinese monsters. Maybe that is why he turned into the greatest Robin Hood knockoff monster killer since that SyFy movie Robin Hood: Monster Killer (only guessing, but this should totally be a movie). He and Pedro Pascal, who famously got his head squished in that one famous HBO show, discover that fake beards and wigs look terrible but are fun to wear in this Chinese production that would go on to be the most expensive movie ever made in the good old People’s Republic. Let’s be clear; if the world were ever on the brink of being overrun by mythical creatures, Matt Damon is the last actor I would want to protect me. Well, second to last after Mark Wahlberg…
Synopsis: A pair of European mercenaries in search of black powder find themselves trapped at The Great Wall while a massive horde of beastly creatures attempts to overrun it and make its way into the lands beyond it.
- The Heroic Duo: Matt and Pedro are leading a small group of European fellas across a desert area, trailing a bunch of nomadic tribesman intent on killing them. They are slowly dying from exhaustion and the ever-present threat of impalement by arrow/spear/sword and they have clearly had enough running. Is it worth it for every man to die in your group in search of black powder if there is no one remaining to make money from it? The answer is clearly no, and when the final two mercs end up on at The Great Wall, it’s a mixture of fear, astonishment, and relief to no longer be out in the open.
- The Wall: I know that there really is a gigantic wall in the Northern part of China but I didn’t feel like the movie did a good job of reminding me that I wasn’t just looking at a make believe thing. The crew wasn’t allowed to film on the real wall and maybe that had an effect on my disbelief. Or maybe it had to do with the way that the soldiers were using some out of control methods to defend the wall that made it feel unrealistic to me. If I can have a more realistic wall then how am I to accept the hundreds of thousands of ancient mythological monsters who are about to attack it?
- The Defenders: The massive army of Chinese soldiers at the Wall wear some of the most unique and colorful armor that isn’t in a Power Rangers movie. It’s far and away better than the lame leather and chainmail crap that the Europeans are wearing and it’s very specific to which jobs the soldiers have on the Wall. Which ones are my favorite? It has to be the “Crane Corps”, the detachment of blue-wearing ladies who fling themselves from the top of the Wall, using massive lances to impale the monsters before bungee jumping their way back up to the top of the Wall. Commander Lin, played by the very cute Tian Jing, is probably the biggest ass-kicker of all the defenders and she, of course, ends up being the most responsive to the European duo as she’s one of only a few that speak English.
- The Creatures: The almost unlimited army of beasts which are banging on the door to lower China are called Tao Tie. They appear every 60 years, for some unknown reason, and they are continuing to evolve and learn new methods to attack the Wall. They would have a much easier time if they would just evolve themselves some damned wings or something but they instead just full-on assault the Wall, which gives us plenty of opportunities to see the defenders test out their new ways of killing the creatures. I’m not a huge fan of the design on the creatures. It looks like a three year old drew a dog and then the team went about adding colors and teeth. Like every other movie in the last 30 years, these guys have a massive Queen that controls the rest of the horde. It always feels like such a cop out when “Kill the Queen and the rest will die” is how the heroes have to save the day. I’m over it.
- What up Tian: This may have been the first time that I’ve ever wanted to be Matt Damon. The entire movie is made up of a story arc consisting of Euro mercs are greedy bastards > Euro mercs are learning about trust and duty > Matt Damon wants to bang Tian Jing > Euro mercs save the day come full circle as human beings. Tian Jing played a massive part in the whole thing but there is no doubt that Matt Damon is the one who will get most of the credit. I didn’t notice it at the time but Tian Jing is also the hot cop from Special ID and from the new but yet unwatched Kong: Skull Island. It appears that we’ll be seeing a lot more of Jing in the future.
- BAAATTLLLEEE!: If you’re saying to yourself, “I want to see a wild and crazy movie where thousands of soldiers fight against thousands of monsters from the top of the biggest man-made structure in the world” then you’ll be very pleasantly surprised when you get just what you want from The Great Wall. Sure, Matt Damon is kind of annoying as the very vanilla hero, who really doesn’t add much to the movie unless he’s bouncing banter back and forth with Pedro Pascal (who I really liked). The methods that the Chinese soldiers use to defend the wall are utterly ridiculous and utterly awesome! They have 60 years to come up with ways to kill these creatures and there is little doubt that they have been dreaming up some bizarre shit. The white guys are a little more reliant on Pedro being a matador and Matt Damon being Legolas, but we can’t all fight like a 90’s era NBA mascot.
They forgot to mention that this movie is inspired by true event…just like these bonus Bullet Points:
- Tao Tie, which are the villainous creatures in this film, are based off of designs found on jade objects from about 5,000 years ago (allegedly). Their literal meaning is ‘gluttonous ogres’. I thought that was just a nickname for filmmaker Michael Moore? ZING!
- The heroes may have been the first to pioneer the methods that we now use to kill pests in or home. Terminix and The Orkin Man clearly copied their hive-killing methods from Matt Damon.
- Despite the poster saying the Great Wall took 1700 years to build, it is a series of several walls built separately over that time by various ruling dynasties during this time frame. Each new wall section built by any single ruler would take approximately 10-20 years to construct.
- Matt Damon was trained in Hungary by Lajos Kassai, a world champion archer and reinventor of horseback archery.
The Verdict: I had a lot of fun watching The Great Wall. It was exactly the type of movie that I expected from watching the trailer. It is silly and over the top fun which is best watched with a few friends and more than a few beverages.