THE GREAT WALL Review — A CURE FOR WELLNESS Review — A Good Wall and a Placebo

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The Great Wall Review

the great wall review

The Great Wall Review

This is an important film in that it’s China’s most expensive production, it was helmed by Yimou Zhang China’s biggest director, and it was made with an international cast with a universal audience in mind. It stars Matt Damon, who is being billed as a “global superstar,” apparently one of the most popular action stars the world over.

With all those resources, it has the potential to be a mega hit, or a mega bomb. In truth, it will probably be neither. But I did find it entertaining.

Damon plays a European mercenary looking for gun powder in Asia. He and his partner stumble upon China’s great wall, and an elite force attempting to defend the world from a pack of evil, powerful and frightening creatures whose numbers are legion. These elite forces, by the way, include kick ass women led by Commander Lin Mae (Tian Jing), who may have been only two dimensional, but intriguing all the same.

There’s plenty of action and the special effects are extraordinary. Those revenues creatures are scary-cool. The film is being criticized for having the white guy come in and save the Chinese day, but I like to focus on that fact that Damon’s character and Mae’s character, a Chines woman, work together to prevail.

I’m sure it will make more overseas than it will here, regardless of what I do or don’t say in my Great Wall review. But if it’s a diverting, action movie you seek, a diverting, action movie you’ll get.

Rated PG-13

1 Hour 44 Minutes

A Cure for Wellness Review

the great wall reviewPsychological thriller or horror movie? Wait, you’re both right! It doesn’t score high in either genre, however. At least it’s stylish–very stylish. If only it were as easy to follow as it is to look at.

Sort of a mash up between Shutter Island and The Grand Budapest Hotel, it’s about an ambitious young exec who is sent by his company’s board to retrieve their CEO at a mysterious retreat in the Swiss Alps. Once he’s there, he finds freaky goings on that threaten his own health and sanity. It’s the kind of place where you can neither check out any time you like nor can you ever leave.

Directed by Gore Verbinski, who also did Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,  Rango, The Ring and the ill-fated Lone Ranger, he let the film get completely out of hand. It’s long, repetitive, and makes very little sense. Many plot points are left dangling.

Then there’s the casting: A Cure for Wellness stars Dane Dehaan, whom you might remember as the Green Goblin in The Amazing Spiderman 2, but regardless, he’s not at all that engaging but rather all that annoying–certainly no Leonardo DiCaprio in Shutter Island, who made us wonder who was crazy and who was sane. That’s the kind of intrigue Verbinski tried for and failed.

In the end, with some adroit editing, I think this could have made a good video — or perhaps a memorable commercial. As a feature film, it just doesn’t stand up.

Rated R

2 Hours 26 Minutes

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The Great Wall Review — A Cure For Wellness Review — A Good Wall and a Placebo


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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and on BBC Radio.

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