European mercenaries William and Tovar are journeying through China in search of the black powder, a devastating weapon they hope to steal and sell to the highest bidder. Pursued by hostile barbarians, they stumble upon a vast wall and an even larger army devoted to defending the land against a horde of vicious monsters. William, an accomplished archer, uncovers the monsters’ weakness and stays to help the army defeat its foe which will almost certainly wipe out the capital city and spread destruction throughout the world.
2016, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 43 mins
Dolby Atmos, TrueHD 7.1, 2.40:1 Aspect Ratio
Starring: Matt Damon, Tian Jing, Willem Dafoe
Directed by Yimou Zhang
This film has gotten a lot of bad press, mainly due to its casting choices. And the plot is thin, not to mention completely derivative of hundreds of other movies. But none of that matters. Once you start watching it, you’ll be completely caught up in one of the most visually and aurally stunning presentations in recent memory. The story takes a back seat to incredible special effects, a reference-quality image, and a soundtrack that will literally blow the house down. Matt Damon does a passable job in the lead role sporting a poor approximation of an Irish accent.
And Willem Dafoe’s talents are completely wasted in a role that barely has him speaking any dialog. But honestly, I would have enjoyed it just as much if no one spoke a word. I believe I have witnessed a new state-of-the-art in CGI effects and sound mixing. All my home theater demos discs will have to make way for my Blu-ray copy of The Great Wall.
The image is stunning in every way. Every detail, static or moving, is presented with the utmost clarity. Contrast is broad and deep with inky blacks and sharp, bright highlights. This is a rare film that doesn’t fear the use of bright color. From the soldiers’ uniforms to an amazing sequence in a tower filled with stained glass windows, the picture is simply dripping with gorgeous primary colors. It’s never cartoonish, and some parts are more muted; but this is a great disc for showing off your high-performance display.
Like all the past Dolby Atmos titles I’ve reviewed, I watched The Great Wall on a traditional 5.1 system – and it sounded incredible. Object-oriented mixes always seem to sound better regardless of the system they’re played on. You’ll want to have the largest possible sub for this one. Bass effects are truly visceral. My whole room shook during the battle sequences as legions of drummers beat their signals on enormous bass drums.
Bonus features include Extended & Deleted Scenes, Matt Damon in China, Working with Director Zhang Yimou, The Great Wall Visual Effects, Man vs. Monster, Weapons of War, and Designing a Spectacular World.