Matt Damon performs as William Garin in a scene from The Great Wall.


AS the popularity of streaming services continues to grow and more people are ok with watching movies on 5 inch phone screens, theatres are continually upping their game when it comes to trying to entice moviegoers to buy tickets. Advances in cinema technology such as digital projection, new immersive sound formats like Dolby Atmos, 3D, HDR laser projection and IMAX are all being employed by the film industry to make actually going to the movies more fun than watching them on an iPad. Thunder Bay’s Silver City has recently had an upgrade to the already incredible Ultra AVX screen in the form of a row of DBOX seats.Ê

DBOX seats are large, fairly comfortable seats that shake, vibrate and move side-to-side, sometimes subtly, sometimes rather aggressively. The movements of the seat sync with the action on the screen, moving with camera movements, character movements and action. Imagine a subwoofer built right into your chair. It’s pretty cool at first, but it is definitely not for everyone. Despite being able to select one of three levels of movement, if you are prone to motion sickness stay away from these expensive, gimmicky seats. Half way through The Great Wall I turned mine down because I thought I was going to throw up.Ê

As far as The Great Wall is concerned, it was a bit of a mess. From the incredible Chinese director Yimou Zhang (House of Flying Daggers, Hero) comes the story of a “Westerner” mercenary played by Matt Damon who is trying to find the mysterious new weapon known as black powder. He ends up coming across the Great Wall of China and an army of soldiers preparing for an imminent attack. In this film, the reason for the Great Wall being built was to protect the land from mythical orc-like beasts that inexplicably attack every 60 years.Ê

Despite a premise that is kind of neat and some absolutely gorgeous costumes, the movie has absolutely nothing to say and is actually quite dull. This is hugely disappointing coming from a director such as Zhang. I was at least expecting some brilliant cinematography but the film looked like one small step above a B-movie.Ê

The supporting cast featured Willem Dafoe and Pedro Pascal alongside Tian Jing, Andy Lau, Lu Han, Kenny Lin and Hanyu Zhang. Damon was wasted in his role, which, lets face it, should have gone to an actor of Chinese descent considering the subject matter of the film. Having him star as a “Westerner” looking for gunpowder was a lazy way of writing a role into the film simply to cast an A-list Hollywood actor. Also, his accent (or whatever it was supposed to be) was awful.

This film, which is the most expensive Chinese film ever made according to IMDB, is essentially a product meant to appeal to two of the world’s biggest movie-going demographics: the North American Box Office, and the increasingly-growing Chinese film market. It was a wasted opportunity that lacked any artistic vision, and should be skipped.

Ryan Mackett is an artist and film enthusiast who resides in Thunder Bay. Email questions or comments to him at

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