My notes on The Great Wall:
1. I wish I could say that this movie proved timely given the current political climate, but putting meaning into all the spectacle would be giving it too much credit. Ooh, a great wall trying to prevent the invasion of foreigners in this post-Trump times? Wow, a white guy saving these poor Asians? There were so many possible metaphors, but all of them were drowned out by the need to create the most majestic battle sequences.
2. I actually missed the old Zhang Yimou, the gifted storyteller that effortlessly broke my heart with films like Raise the Red Lantern, Not One Less, and The Road Home. Sadly, most of his recent works (House of Flying Daggers, Curse of the Golden Flower) seemed to focus more on style instead of substance and this one was no different.
Athough one couldn’t deny his visual flair (that stained glass scene simply looked gorgeous), a lot of the action onscreen didn’t really serve much purpose except to showcase how good Yimou was in filming a shower of flaming arrows (that he already used in the far superior Hero).
3. How else to explain the scene where women wearing Beauxbatons outfits bungee jump with spears to kill a horde of monsters, bounce back up, and then plunge down again (mostly to their deaths)? Whoever thought of this stupid mode of attack (and why women?) should have been thrown first over the wall.
Sure, the camera swooping down with the female soldiers was visually arresting, but my brain wanted to explode from all the silliness (Oriental Cirque du Soleil whee!).
4. Burning questions:
• When the general died, were those the Encantadia brilyantes that he left behind?
• Why do people still light sky lanterns when they very well kill sea turtles? (Only asking for an environmentalist friend.)
• Was that Darren Espanto playing the young emperor?
• Why were the monsters (called Taotie, sounding like a delicious dim sum) scared of magnets like they were made out of credit cards? And why did they only attack every 60 years? Which monster kept a calendar to keep track of time?
5. Matt Damon looked completely lost in this movie, like he was asked to do a skit in a Chinese version of Saturday Night Live and he could barely keep a straight face while delivering lines like “We are honored to be honored”.
At one point he said, “We really do smell”. Yes Matt, this one was a real stinker.