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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Fighting for causes that you don't believe in -- and only for money -- can wear on your soul, while fighting with a purpose can be noble. (Still, it's all about fighting.) Characters work together to defeat the monsters.
Positive Role Models
Commander Lin (a strong female character) is courageous, principled, and also open to learning from the soldiers she commands. William is brave and tenacious, as well as very loyal. The white characters are portrayed as more barbaric, while the Chinese are presented as refined and honorable.
Violence & Scariness
Tons of peril and battles involving sword fighting, knives, and arrows; in some cases arrows are shown piercing bodies. Both monster and human blood is spilled (particularly the former), but since many of the battles are against monsters, they have a cartoonish quality. A character holds a knife against another's neck. Entire groups are killed by big explosions. The monsters, which are sort of a dinosaur/alien hybrid, can be scary; they eat some people.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A little romantic tension between the male and female leads. Some male soldiers have uniforms that show their torso.
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Very infrequent, but includes "s--t," "hell," "bastard," and "bitch," as well as "my god" and "mother of god."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Reference to being drunk in the past.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Great Wall is a fantasy action film set in medieval China starring Matt Damon. Violence is the main issue here; there's tons of peril and many battles, including sword fights, arrows piercing bodies, explosions, and more. Plus, many of the fights involve scary monsters (which have green blood), which wreak havoc and sometimes eat people. There's also a very little bit of swearing ("hell," "bastard," "bitch") and a bit of romantic tension between main characters. Speaking of the main characters, one is a strong, brave, principled female leader. While the film sparked controversy for casting a white actor in a story about China, the good news is that, for the most part, the movie avoids stereotyping; if anything, the white characters are portrayed as barbaric, while the Chinese are depicted as refined and honorable. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
A hybrid between a historical epic and an action fantasy, the film manages to be only a passable example of each genre, which makes it less memorable than it had the potential to be. Damon serves up a dignified performance, if you ignore his dubious accent (a mushed-up concoction meant to recall an Irishman by way of America, perhaps?). Whether his bromance with partner-in-crime Pascal needed to be in the mix is yet another iffy decision, confusing the genre dilemma even further.
That said, The Great Wall has its merits, starting with the cinematography. Setting aside the over-CGI-ed monsters, the titular wall is a sight to behold. A scene in which soldiers throw hundreds of lanterns aloft is simply breathtaking. And then there's the fearless female commander, Lin. She may not have much depth, character-wise, but seeing her take command -- and sharing the story's spotlight with William -- is a breath of fresh air.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.