Published On: Fri, Feb 17th, 2017

‘The Great Wall’ movie review: unique, scary and visually stunning

Monster movies have hit a brand new high with the wonders of modern day special effects.  Claymation characters and animatronic creatures just don’t scare us anymore.  But The Great Wall, opening February 17, 2017, gives us a whole new monster to haunt our nightmares…the Tao Tie.  

These unique creatures arise every 60 years to feed on anything they can find, nourish their queen, and then retreat to multiply once again.  Doesn’t sound so bad until you see these monsters that look like giant, mutated, alien werewolf/hyena hybrids and realize they are mainly unstoppable jaws and claws. The PG-13 rating is very clearly due to the violent combat scenes, so I definitely would not take younger children to see this film.

The star of the film is actually the special effects component, much more so than Matt Damon himself.  While Damon did a fine job as expected, the interaction between the monsters and humans during direct combat scenes was fabulous.  A behind-the-scenes documentary on how they brought these monstrosities to life would probably be fascinating.  

The story itself is pretty simple and follows the basic concept of a secret order fighting a mysterious monster to protect humanity from their devastation.  Enter the self-centered mercenary and watch him transform into a hero as he joins the others in an impossible fight to save the world.  You could say Damon plays a Han Solo character in China for this film.   The dialogue has its occasional comic relief moments, but it doesn’t have a chance of standing out in anyway against those fabulous special effects.  Then again, this isn’t the type of movie you go see for the brilliant dialogue.

I do not normally enjoy 3D productions because the effect is lost on me after a few minutes and then the glasses just end up making my face hurt.  But this film is definitely worth seeing in 3D.  That said, there are a few scenes where I actually felt a little dizzy because of the effect, but it was just for a short-lived moment or two.  In my opinion, the successful use of 3D during the battle scenes is part of what made these monsters more lifelike and terrifying.

Overall, those who enjoy monsters, sci-fi/fantasy, and the general creativity of film should feel satisfied with the experience for the price of admission.  The Great Wall is simply visually stunning with the terrifying monsters, the beautiful and colorful uniforms of the Chinese soldiers, the synchronized movements of the army, and the secret chambers within the wall itself making it into a very long, narrow castle instead of just a plain thick wall.  

If it sounds like this movie might be of any interest to you, it’s definitely one worth seeing on the big screen and you might even want to splurge on the 3D showing.  I will probably be purchasing the DVD when it comes out just because I’m dying to see the behind-the-scenes components it may contain….and that’s not a statement I would normally make.

The Great Wall receives 4 out of 5 stars

Review by Debbie Sage


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