The summer and the early winter are great times of the year for film releases. February? Not so much. Partially for that reason, none of the films coming out this weekend are great, although you might get one decent watch out of the bunch.
The Great Wall
Matt Damon’s latest film, The Great Wall, puts forward a new reason for China’s Great Wall, infused with action-fantasy mythology. Behind the wall lurks some enormous and powerful beast, and Damon’s character, a foreign mercenary warrior, is roped into helping in the fight.
The film’s visuals look quite cool, and I wouldbe inclined to be optimistic, particularly with Willem Dafoe playinga supporting role alongside Matt Damon. But the early reviews don’t look good. The film has a 6.4 average on Imdb, and a metascore of only 48 from metacritic, with critics mostly saying it has a dull story drowning in bombastic special effects. That said, critics tend to dislike action films, and there’s nothing that makes me think it will be, say, Suicide Squad bad, so just have some realistic expectations going into it.
A Cure for Wellness
This film looks to be about as bizarre as it sounds. A young executive travels to a mysterious “wellness clinic” to retrieve his company’s CEO, only to find that he may never be able to leave. A psychological thriller that looks like it could be a straight adaptation of The Eagles’ “Hotel California,” A Cure for Wellness features a solid cast with Dan DeHaas and Jason Isaacs, as well as a curious choice in director (Gore Verbinski, who directed the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films, as well as Rango and The Lone Ranger).
Like many psychological thrillers, A Cure for Wellness appears to be courting existentialism in some degree, with the idea that through the mind, you make your own reality. What its view is on that, however, is not immediately clear – this could be worldview of the villains which Lockhart (DeHaas) must then overcome. But perhaps more troubling is the film’s sexual content, which includes multiple cases of female upper body nudity, as well as two sex scenes that, from online parent’s guides at least, appear to earn its R rating. The premise certainly appears interesting, but I’m somewhat doubtful that it will be intriguing enough to justify its content.
Even considering the recent trend of absurdist comedy, this one is a bit ridiculous. When one high school teacher gets another one fired, the latter challenges the former to a fist fight after school. The scrawny teacher who’s been challenged turns to other teachers for help, which turns into a bizarre mixture of non-athletic caricature and training montage.
Clearly, this film is no attempt at being clever. In taking a concept that might have been pushing it for a five minute YouTube video, and expanding that to a full film, the filler that results is hardly wholesome. The worst parts of public high school are played for jokes, including sexual humor and harsh profanity. In short, I can’t think of any reason why this film would be worth your time.
Conclusion: While I may not have great expectations for it, The Great Wall would be my pick. Don’t expect more than a flashy action flick, but a flashy action flick every now and then makes for good entertainment.