The Fantastic Wall — the dragons catch the eye

Calling all Komodo dragons. You deserve a pay packet for Zhang Yimou’s The Great Wall. You are the most watchable point in this monster adventure set in China 1,000 years ago. Two aerial sequences also catch the breath: massed lanterns floating up from a funeral, later a flying force of primitive hot-air balloons, some conflagration-prone. Oh and the sets and costumes. The palatial kitsch in Song Dynasty China is lavish. Even foreign mercenaries Matt Damon, Willem Dafoe and Pedro Pascal dress to kill.

But it’s the naked warriors that actually take the eye: invading giant dragons, tens of thousands, all going Komodo. They climb pagodas in mass, leap via air (in 3D), open ravening jaws, tear victims in twain or twenty-twain. If the script equalled the digitised spectacle — instead of being co-production-blockbuster-clunky, even with Tony Bourne Gilroy and Edward Legends of the Fall Zwick amongst the writers — we’d all be cheering. There’s an remarkable overhead shot of the dragons massing for the charge. What they ought to now do is mass for another charge: $ 15m, fair pay in my view for their contribution to this $ 150m romp.

Section: Arts

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