The Great Wall's reviews are... not so great

The Great Wall's reviews are... not so great

The Great Wall's reviews are... not so great

House of Flying Daggers director Yimou Zhang new film The Great Wall is a spectacular behemoth of a film.

Damon is up to the task of carrying the film, though his character's "cruel mercenary discovers honor" transition feels more than a bit forced.

The Chinese film market is increasingly influential in Hollywood, with Chinese financing flowing to a diverse array of US projects, and studio films increasingly catering to the tastes of Chinese audiences, resulting in more action, more spectacle, more humor.

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After all, "The Great Wall", with a budget of $150 million, is the most expensive movie ever shot in China.

Every so often, genre movies come along that outperform their premises in one way or another.

The story by Max Brooks, Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz uses fantasy elements, based on a legend, but this mash-up of genres feels like one of those cheesy "Hercules" movies we watched on Sunday afternoon TV years ago.

The Great Wall is what it is, and although the story is inspired by one of the world's great wonders, the movie never comes close to achieving that same lofty status.

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Damon plays William Garin, a Westerner searching for gunpowder (mystically referred to here as "black powder") who stumbles across a mysterious beast and cuts its arm off in battle. Only once William and Tovar make their way to the Great Wall and the Nameless Order (the soldiers that guard the Great Wall) do they learn what attacked them: a Tao Tei.

"The Great Wall" means well, and for that you can cut it some slack. The next day, William and Tovar are found by a group of Chinese soldiers who chase them until they are forced to surrender at the gates of the Great Wall.

The buzz on "The Great Wall" has been less excitement and more puzzlement and controversy.

Held by cables, they lunge down from a formation of thorns over the wall and stab the green-gilled reptilian monster until it's dead.

A visual treat with its bright palette, remarkably detailed sets, and mesmerizing choreography, The Great Wall is the sort of film that occasionally feels like a montage of lovely sequences based on a cool concept rather than a fully formed, singular movie.

The Great Wall is exactly the film you'd expect after watching the trailer.

The army guarding the Great Wall is known as the Nameless Order, and it's with them that director Yimou Zhang is able to employ his masterful use of color and spectacle, in battle sequences that are as attractive as they are ridiculous. For his part, Damon looks nearly embarrassed to be there, burying his charisma and his natural smile and affecting some sort of lumpy accent that makes him sound like a Midwestern drifter trying to disguise his origins.

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