Legendary and Universal have released a new The Great Wall trailer. Directed by Hero and House of Flying Daggers director Zhang Yimou, the film stars Matt Damon and tells the “true” story behind why the titular Great Wall of China was built in the first place. Set 1,000 years in the past, an elite force makes a valiant stand for humanity atop the titular wall, which is constructed to keep out a beast of monstrous proportions.
This trailer goes more in depth with the story and shows Damon and co-star Pedro Pascal as a couple of travelers who get swept up in the battle when giant lizard monsters try to overtake the Great Wall, thus endangering both China and the rest of the world.
However, this trailer still doesn’t address the central criticism being levied at the movie, which is that it’s playing up the white savior trope. While Hollywood’s economic realities dictate that a star of Matt Damon’s caliber must be featured in order to rake in the financing for a blockbuster production, it doesn’t change the fact that in a country full of Chinese people, it’s a white guy who gets to be their hero.
Zhang addressed the controversy in August saying, “Matt Damon is not playing a role that was originally conceived for a Chinese actor. The arrival of his character in our story is an important plot point. There are five major heroes in our story and he is one of them — the other four are all Chinese. The collective struggle and sacrifice of these heroes are the emotional heart of our film.”
It’s possible that Damon’s character is placed on equal footing with the Chinese actors, and that while he may feature prominently in the marketing, this is really an ensemble piece. But I remain skeptical.
Check out the trailer below along with new images. The film also stars Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe, Hanyu Zhang, Eddie Peng, Lu Han, Kenny Lin, Junkai Wang, Zheng Kai, Cheney Chen, Xuan Huang, and Andy Lau. The Great Wall opens in 3D on February 17, 2017.
Here’s the official synopsis for The Great Wall:
Starring global superstar Matt Damon and directed by one of the most breathtaking visual stylists of our time, Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of Flying Daggers), Legendary’s The Great Wall tells the story of an elite force making a valiant stand for humanity on the world’s most iconic structure. The first English-language production for Yimou is the largest film ever shot entirely in China. The Great Wall also stars Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe and Andy Lau.