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The Great Wall Pedro Pascal Matt Damon

While Chinese blockbuster The Great Wall has been roundly criticized for crafting its story around a white protagonist, no matter how you feel about the film's politics, it's hard not to be impressed by the grandiose architectural feat at its center. Why does the poster for a movie called "The Great Wall" (as in China) have a huge picture of a white guy on it? Released two months ago to mediocre returns in China, The Great Wall is a money-driven compromise that seems created to please no one.

Early reviews for The Great Wall were so negative that I went in to the screening without a lot of expectations-and to my surprise, actually had a pretty good time watching it.

When the city of Beijing was selected to host the 2008 Summer Olympics, China turned to its most internationally renowned film director, Zhang Yimou, to handle the opening and closing ceremonies at The Beijing National Stadium, a gorgeous venue dubbed "The Bird's Nest" for the ornate latticework around the structure. That's partially because instead of fighting each other, the characters are fighting generic-looking monsters, which are swarming the actual Great Wall of China and threatening to overrun the world. They were delivered to northern China via meteor, and they attack every 60 years as a reminder that unchecked greed is bad. Seen in 3-D, it represents an impressive display of filmmaking might.

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Once inside, distrust on the part of leaders such as Commander Lin (Jing Tian) grudgingly transforms into respect and admiration as William, an expert archer, joins the struggle against the relentless demons.

After making almost $225 million worldwide, the fantasy adventure film The Great Wall is ready for its American debut.