Thanks to Universal Pictures Australia we had the chance to see The Great Wall before its cinematic release. This is our review of the film, but – as usual – no matter what we say, we recommend that you still go to your local cinema and see the film because there is no better critic than yourself!

Based on one of the many legends surrounding the origins of the Great Wall of China, the film follows crack archer William (Matt Damon) and his side-kick Towar (Game of Thrones’ Pedro Pascal), two bannerless soldiers seeking the ultimate weapon: black powder.

Their journey takes them to the Great Wall, where they are taken prisoner. However, their fates suddenly change when the Wall’s army engages in battle against savage , mysterious creatures that seem to come out of the shadows every 20 years. Impressed by the army and grasping the threat in front of him, William decides to join the Wall’s soldiers in their battle against the evil creatures

Directed by Zhang Yimou (House of the Flying Daggers), The Great Wall is quite the leap of faith, bringing to the big screen perhaps the weirdest of the many Chinese legends surrounding this wonder of the wonder: the tale of the order charged with protecting the wall against the evil, alien-like creatures that come out of the shadows every 20 years. However silly the plot might sound, the film manages to deliver an entertaining, action-packed and visually stunning ride thanks to superb and colorful costumes, impressive stunts and excellent use of 3D. A special highlight is being put in front of millions of flying arrows.

The performances are good, especially that of Chinese super-star Tian Jing who steals the show alongside an hilarious-yet-badass Pedro Pascal. Matt Damon re-demonstrates his ability to take on any role, and although it’s not his most memorable performance he still delivers what fans have come to expect from him. This is something we sadly cannot say about the great Willem Dafoe, whose character seems unnecessary and underdeveloped.

Perhaps the biggest letdown of The Great Wall is the abuse of CGI, which makes many scenes look distractingly fake. This is most pronounced when the creatures are attacking in full force, which looks like the bug battles in Starship Troopers crossed with the particle-effects zombie waves of World War Z.

Overall, despite its silly plot, and the mediocre CGI, The Great Wall is a fun blockbuster with solid action and beautiful visuals. It has the unmistakable mark of director Zhang Yimou.

The Great Wall is now in cinemas

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