Plot Cliches Limit ‘Great Wall’ Success
April 7, 2017
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The Great Wall was created to keep invaders away, but what if the invaders were lizard-like monsters?
The Great Wall is the first major co-production between a Chinese and an American studio. Billed a fantasy-action adventure, the movie is rated PG 13 and was released by Universal Pictures in mid-February. The leading protagonists are Matt Damon as William Garin and Jing Tian as commander Lin Mei. The movie also stars many Chinese actors including A-list actors Andy Lau and Zhang Hanyu. Directed by Zhang Yimou, The Great Wall is China’s most expensive production to date.
Medieval Irish mercenary and former soldier William Garin and his partner Pero Tovar are out in a dessert looking for a mysterious black powder. While doing so, Garin encounters a fortress where there is a war between the Nameless Order, an elite army, and mythical creatures called Taotei which appear every 60 years. When Garin realizes that it’s going to be difficult to escape the fortress, he helps the Nameless Order fight against the Taotie to earn their trust and escape later.
Although Garin’s intentions are to escape the fortress at first, he later changes his mind because of Lin Mei who holds a strong and commanding presence. She impresses him with the Chinese people’s idea of not fighting for money but for humanity. Although Garin and Lin Mei are supposed to develop warmth and respect for each other, it often feels very awkward. This could be due to Lao Mei’s lack of English or her constant emotionless face; because of the lack of emotion, some scenes often look very tense.
The movie is known for its multi-cultural cast, but most of the Chinese cast members are often lurking in the background. Even Garin’s partner Pero Tovar is shown in the background as Matt Damon takes the spotlight.
In the beginning of the story, Garin and the Nameless Order worked together to fight against the Taotei, but eventually Garin predictably leads the army. Like most protagonists in movies, Garin also overcomes his faults and weakness to later become the hero of the day. Garin starts out as a someone who was a threat to the Nameless Order, and, when he kills the Taoties, he magically becomes their leader.
Even though the plot is predictable, the movie is very interesting in its own way. It has great visuals and epic imagery, like the color coded costumes, lizard like monsters, and detailed settings. The movie also has great action scenes which are appealing to the eye. The film also shows how both the Nameless Order and Taotie realistically come together to work as a unit.