I went to the movies today and I saw The Great Wall.
Now, I know there’s a lot of controversy surrounding this movie, but I would argue that, having seen the movie, that said criticisms are unfounded. Matt Damon plays a character that was always intended to be European, so casting a white man makes sense, and any concerns that he’s portrayed as some sort of savior for the Chinese army or that he influences the soldiers with Western values can be put to rest as well. He doesn’t act as a savior, outside of a couple of scenes where, in the heat of battle, he saves a young soldier who is clearly unfamiliar with battle. And he certainly doesn’t impart Western values on the people. If anything, they impart their values on him.
Which isn’t to say the movie is without flaws, but they’re more typical to films in general. Some of the pacing, particularly in the third act, is an issue (the last 20-30 minutes in particular feel like they’ve been severely edited, making the final battle feel very rushed). Damon can’t seem to decide whether his character has an accent or not, which is a bit distracting, and some of the characters are under-developed, making some of the portions where they have to carry the movie between battle scenes a bit boring, and other things like that.
For positives, some of the action scenes were very awesome (the first 20 minutes of the movie are pretty intense) and the costume design, set design and score were all exceptional and kudos to Mayes C. Rubio, Gordon Sim, and Ramin Djawadi respectively for those aspects of the film.
So I guess the point I’m trying to make is that, IN MY OPINION the complaints about this movie being another example of Hollywood whitewashing (which, I would like to make clear, I’m not saying is not a problem) are unfounded and, while it does have problems, I would recommend seeing it, especially if you would like to see more films out of China get a wide release in the U.S.