Director Zhang Yimou’s first English-language production puts actor Matt Damon alongside a cast of Chinese A-listers to battle monsters and prevent them from invading China. The Great Wall is pure popcorn entertainment, and pure popcorn entertainment needs a melodic score that can handle big swells of epic action. Ramin Djawadi has definitely become the go-to guy for fantasy action after the success of Game Of Thrones. His scores for movies like Pacific Rim and Warcraft prove he’s capable of creating that massive energetic sound, and The Great Wall further proves his talents of large-scale action.
The Great Wall has everything you’re looking for in bold thematic action writing. Ramin gives us a big theme that he weaves throughout the score, it becomes our anchor. The bold sound of strings and brass fill the space to add gravitas and weight. There is some light Chinese instrumentation implemented, but Ramin never goes overboard to make the score sound particularly Eastern nor Western. The music just thrives in its fantastical elements giving it a bit of an old world feel. Think of Game Of Thrones with extra flavor and a whole lot more action. Ramin loves his cellos, and the score utilizes that deep sounds of cellos throughout. There is the obvious attempt of infusing romanticism into the score, to give it a sense of grandeur and scale. For the most part, it’s rather successful at doing that without going overboard. The score retains its aggressiveness and excitement throughout. Ramin also has some great percussive textures that add propulsion and forward energy to the action as a whole. The whole score builds nicely towards the end where the journey wraps up in a big emotional swell.
The Great Wall is pure fantasy escapism. Like a Transformers flick, this isn’t meant to make you rethink your whole life’s existence. This is a fantasy action movie done with a big budget, and everything looks and sounds fantastic. Let the visuals and sounds take over. Ramin’s score does everything it needs to by being thrilling and engaging all the way through. The score has that old world fantasy sound, with that old-school action approach. Get ready for a big central theme infused throughout that propels the action, and in turn builds gravitas infused with a sense of romanticism. The Great Wall is pure popcorn escapism in the best sense. Sit back, relax, watch Matt Damon help China defeat some monsters while Ramin’s bold action score entertains.
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