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The Great Wall also known as “La Grande Muraille,” “La gran muralla,” “A Grande Muralha,” “A Nagy Fal,” “Didzioji siena,” “Kineski zid,” “Kitajski zid,” “Suur Hiina müür,” “Veliki kineski zid,” “Wielki Mur,” “Çin Seddi”

MPAA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPAA) for sequences of fantasy action violence.

reviewed by: Gabriel Mohler

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Action Adventure War Fantasy 3D
1 hr. 43 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
February 17, 2017 (wide—3,326 theaters)
DVD: May 23, 2017
Copyright, Universal Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures
Relevant Issues
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fantasy monsters

dragons and dinosaurs—discover how they are connected

dragons in the Bible

FEAR—What does the Bible say? Answer

self-sacrifice / bravery / courage

Copyright, Universal Pictures


bows and arrows in the Bible


Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures
Featuring: Matt DamonWilliam Garin
Willem DafoeSir Ballard
Tian Jing … Commander Lin Mae of the Crane Troop
Pedro Pascal … Pero Tovar
Andy Lau … Strategist Wang
Eddie Peng … General Wu, Commander of the Tiger Troop
Numan Acar … Najid
Lu Han (Han Lu) … Peng Yong, a warrior in the Bear Troop
Kenny Lin … Captain
See all »
Director: Zhang Yimou—“Hero” (2002), “House of Flying Daggers” (2004), “Curse of the Golden Flower” (2006)
Producer: Legendary Entertainment
Legendary East
See all »
Distributor: Universal Pictures

“1700 years to build. 5500 miles long. What were they trying to keep out?”

When I first heard about this film, I thought it was going to be a historical epic based on true events, or at least speculating as to what the true events could have been. I was thrilled and jumped at the opportunity to review it (and I was also curious as to what in the world Matt Damon would be doing in the film). When I found out that it was actually a fantasy film about Chinese dragons, my first reaction was a “facepalm,” but then I started hoping that it might still be a decent little popcorn flick. Was it?

Pretty much. I felt that this film was pretty self-aware. It’s silly, crazy entertainment, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously, as some other action-fantasy films do (oh yeah, last year’s “Warcraft” is firmly in mind!). Because of this, I was able to have a pretty good time watching. I’m kind of surprised Matt Damon agreed to be in this film, but it’s nice to see that he doesn’t take himself too seriously, either. He did a really good job, and his presence did make a difference!

The CGI has some bad moments, but it is mostly pretty good and pretty cool. The monsters may be frightening to little kids, but teens and up will love them (if they’re into this kind of film). There are several scenes of combat between the humans and the dragons. Relatively little harm is shown happening to the humans, and the harm shown happening to the monsters is more comic than graphic. Their blood is green!

There is a little more language than I expected, but it isn’t constant, either. There are 3 misuses of God’s name, 8 misuses of h**l, a few s-words, and one each of b***h and ba***d. The sexual content is fairly minimal, as well; there are a few non-explicit references and a scene showing a shirtless male.

Despite being nothing more than pure popcorn fun, the film does manage to throw in a few serious moments and teach a few positive messages, like sacrifice, bravery, and not being greedy. While there’s nothing exceptionally praiseworthy here, there’s not much to complain about either. It’s definitely forgettable, but if you like this kind of film, it’s not half bad for an evening when you just need a break for recreation.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild

The Great Dinosaur Mystery On-lineVisit our interactive, multimedia dinosaurs and dragons Web site complete with games and more. Fun and educational for the whole family. See and hear about amazing new discoveries. Get ANSWERS to your questions.

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—Visually exciting. I didn’t see anything offensive in this movie. It was actually a fun day at the theater with this flick. Had many good moral values, as well as humor. Good CGI, special effects. Only negative was the storyline was a little simplistic, but otherwise positive. Could be scary for younger children, so use discernment. It’s amazing if you look at sites like the Rotten Tomatoes ratings. The more morally offensive it is the more Rotten Tomatoes it gets. Actually quite fitting.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
Eric, age 48 (USA)
Positive—I’m just supporting Eric’s comments. Blockbuster movies that open in off-season are usually shot on a budget, using many talking-head scenes; but the cinematography and costumes and crowd scenes in “The Great Wall” were very impressive $$$. The almost omnipresent violence was controlled—lots of blood, but no torture or graphic displays. Even my wife admitted she enjoyed it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
Brian Schacht, age 70 (Canada)
Positive—I love this movie. No sex, no nudity, no cursing. It is visually beautiful. Beautiful costumes and scenery. Great special effects. I wanted to just have an escape day today, and just be entertained. This movie was perfect. If you like cool monster-things, you will like this (think of the Warg—giant wolves—from “The Lord of the Rings”), that’s what these creatures are like. Very well done. (They will probably scare little kids). There is a lot of violence here, as the people fight the creatures. But gore is kept to a minimum, really. Honestly, this is just a fun imaginative movie. This film is not “horror,” it is more sci-fi really. I want to see it again, it is so pretty and colorful, and the people so courageous.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Maggie, age 69 (USA)
Positive—I really enjoyed this movie. The colors grabbed me! The uniforms representing what position in the army the people held were beautifully done. Bright, vibrant, flowing. The uniforms were gorgeous and the details and designs were wonderful. It was in stark contrast to the characters William (Matt Damon) and Tovar (Pedro Pascal).

One thing that stayed with me was the comparison of the Tao Tei to the greed of man. As the queen would be fed, the numbers of beasts would grow. This was the lesson of the creatures, to remind man of his greed and to keep it from growing, yet the main reason William and Tovar were fighting was for greed and their search for black powder was led by their own greed and that of others. I thought it was a great visual to represent the moral story of greed. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
Andrea, age 44 (USA)
Positive—Surprisingly imaginative and entertaining. Everything about this movie was impressive—a fine cast of international actors, beautiful costumes, scenery, brilliant cinematography and stunts. Creative gadgetry. In many ways it reminded me of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. The only thing that detracted from this film being a huge hit, in my opinion, was the design of the creatures.

The premise was interesting: the Great Wall of China was built mainly to keep out hordes of dragons. Then why not makes them look like dragons depicted for thousands of years in Chinese art, statues, etc.? Like the dinosaurs found in fossil beds throughout China? Instead they look like something off a Yugioh card—green hyena-like creatures with a huge mouth. Rows of shark-like teeth, green blood, and eyes on their shoulders. Seriously? I think it would’ve enhanced the experience if they had made the creatures look like realistic animals based on Chinese depictions of dragons/dinosaurs!

As they mention the creatures are “evolving,” it may be they didn’t want to hint at the obvious connection between dragon legends and dinosaur fossils found abundantly in China. Everything else was exceptional, visually stunning—even the titles/credits were beautifully done.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Tori, age 40+ (USA)
Positive—Thoroughly enjoyed the movie… would like to have seen more between the hero and heroine.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4
Harry, age 69 (USA)

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