Released 16th February (Australia)
Seen 6th December
Directed by Yimou Zhang
Written by Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro, Tony Gilroy
Produced by Legendary East, Atlas Entertainment, China Film Group, Dentsu
Fuji Television Network, Kava Productions, Le Vision Pictures & Legendary Entertainment
Starring Matt Damon, Tian Jing, Willem Dafoe, Andy Lau & Pedro Pascal
I genuinely have no idea how to start this review. I don’t. I sat here trying to think up some witty line to explain my confusion or dismay over this movie but it turns out this film is just too damn boring for me to have a witty opener that can express just how boring I feel this film is. It’s bland, I was checking my watch the entire time and I don’t even own a watch, that’s how bored I got. How does a film that has giant green devils dogs running about bore me so much? How is that possible? That shouldn’t be something that’s even physically possible and yet, here we are.
The plot of this movie is just stupid. Basically the great wall of China wasn’t built to protect the land from Mongol soldiers or the invading north or even to keep the rabbits out, but instead it’s there to defend them from weird creatures that look like what happens when the avocados decide they’ve had enough of being a punchline vegetable and just kill everyone. Of course, the only ones who can help are “Random American” (Played by Matt Damon) and “Random Mexican” (Played by Pedro Pascal). Yes, they have names, no I don’t care enough to write them, that would imply their names mattered or they had character traits beyond “American” and “Mexican”. This is how dull they are, I have to just refer to them as that because without those two traits then both characters have nothing to offer.
The set looks nice and the costumes are pretty, I can at least see where some of their efforts went but I can’t see it well because the film is so washed out. I’m stunned how bad this film looks because no one could even be bothered to just run it through a basic colour correction to maybe make it look interesting. Here’s how bad this is… I fixed a frame myself in about 20 seconds with a single layer on photoshop. No, not joking, this is something I did. Here’s the shot:-
Nothing pops in this shot, there is a man in the frame in a pretty awesome looking piece of bright red armour and yet he may as well be wearing grey because the colour in this film is so limp and lifeless that nothing really seems to be worth looking at. I put one very basic curve layer over this image to just change the contrast ever so slightly and look at the difference it made:-
See? Suddenly it’s more dynamic, the lighting actually looks like it’s coming from that doorway in the back, the colours pop. If I fixed this frame to make it look at least somewhat interesting with 20 seconds in photoshop, this film has no excuse for looking dull and washed out which it did for the entire movie. And yes, I’m aware my fix might not be the best ever but hell, damn sight better than what the film did. Also, I did this for every screencap I’m using in this review so just for fun, I will link to an Imgur page with all of them just to show off how much difference one little bit of editing can do. What’s sad is that these washed out visuals means that when they actually do interesting shots, it looks like crap.
See this is an interesting shot, the lighting looks really pretty… too bad the film is so washed out that it’s not as good as they wanted it to be but hell, they tried. Where they didn’t try was in major plot elements. Prime example, this film heard the Insane Clown Posse say “Fucking magnets, how do they work?” and decided the answer was “They placate evil green monsters”. Not a joke, literally a statement. They use magnets to make the evil creatures go to sleep because that’s how that works. It’s by far the stupidest part of the stupidest movie, which is saying a lot because this movie has more stupid elements than Sharknado… except Sharknado is at least entertaining.
Even beyond the racial awkwardness of the white saviour trope and the whitewashing that entails, this film is bad on its merits. Badly shot, badly edited, a bad script and story that just makes no sense. It’s a mess of a film with very few redeeming values and no fun to be had here. It’s not even so bad that it becomes unintentionally funny, it’s just bad.
(It gets a point for the sets, which at least look decent and for a half decent female lead… I’m being generous!)