Monday, February 27, 2017

The Great Wall [2017]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (A-III) (3 Stars)  AVClub (B-)  Fr. Dennis (1 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
Los Angeles Times (K. Turan) review (S. Abrams) review
AVClub (I. Vishnevetsky) review

The Great Wall [2017] (directed by Yimou Zhang, screenplay by Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro and Tony Gilroy, story by Max Brooks, Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz) is a high budget Hollywood / Chinese "Historical / Fantasy Epic" coproduction that's both fascinating and partly worrisome in its concept:

Two medieval European mercenaries, William and Tovar (played by Matt Damon and Pedro Pascal), stumble their way to China (along presumably a northern branch of the Silk Road) in search of stealing the secret to black (gun) powder.  Just before they arrive, they run into (and successfully kill) a strange green alien monster.  With its severed head (or perhaps limb) in a bag, the two arrive at The Great Wall there at the frontier between China and the lands China then considered "barbaric" to its North.

They get promptly arrested, but the knightly William quickly notices that Chinese sentries at the border appear to mobilized / on high alert.  What were they mobilizing against?  Well, against hoards of those strange green alien monsters (called Tao Tei).  According to this film, they had arrived by means of some crashed meteor some centuries before.  Ever since, every 50-60 years or so, the barbaric / alien Tao Tei would attack China along said Wall.  Defending China was a _huge_ Army led by a woman General named Lin Mae (played by Tian Jing).  Much, that could be described as medieval fantasy meets the alien invasion / zombie apocalypse scenarios of World War Z [2013] / the Edge of Tommorrow [2014].

Perhaps the simultaneously most interesting and _disconcerting_ aspect of this film reveals itself when when considers the question: Who lives "up North" of China these days? 

So a film that invents an "AGE-OLD" alliance between the English and the Chinese against the "Green Alien Hordes" coming from where RUSSIA exists today ... ought to raise some eyebrows.

While I'm certainly no fan of Putin, it's generally not particularly helpful to cast one's (potential) enemies as UTTERLY UNRELATABLE ... MONSTERS ...

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