What is the strangest thing on display in the new trailer for Zhang Yimou's The Great Wall? Is it the fact that Chinese forces building and occupying one of the greatest feats of engineering in human history apparently need to be saved by a couple white guys? Is it the presence of a giant monster in what otherwise appears to be a very straight faced and serious period epic? Or could it be the apparent populatiry of bungee jumping? You can take your pick, there are plenty of options.
A flagrant attempt to tap into the massive - and growing - Chinese box office, Yimou's latest feels very much like an experiment in reverse engineering gone wrong. It's as though someone sat down and drafted a list of things required for wide release in both China and the US and then constructed a film to order based on that list without actually spending any real time on whether the story made organic sense. And so you get a huge name Chinese director working with a massive US star in Matt Damon alongside some big name Chinese talent (Andy Lau, virtually invisible in the marketing thus far), in a culture clashing story set in a time and place where these cultures really don't seem to have any obvious reason to clash and where things blow up purely because things apparently HAVE to blow up (and do so quite a lot) once you spend above a certain amount of money.
No, this does not look good to me. If you'd care to see whether you agree or disagree with my position you can take a look below.