Famed Asian director Zhang Yimou brings action-fantasy ‘The Great Wall’

One of the most breathtaking visual stylists of our time, Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of Flying Daggers) directs the Universal Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action-fantasy The Great Wall, marking his first English-language production and the largest film ever shot entirely in China.

In the film, when a mercenary warrior (Matt Damon) is imprisoned within The Great Wall, he discovers the mystery behind one of the greatest wonders of our world. As wave after wave of marauding beasts, intent on devouring the world, besiege the massive structure, his quest for fortune turns into a journey toward heroism as he joins a huge army of elite warriors to confront this unimaginable and seemingly unstoppable force.

Zhang Yimou is one of the planet’s most celebrated filmmakers. Among his two dozen feature credits, he directed the first Chinese production to earn a Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award® nomination, Ju Dou (1990), with two more nominations for Raise the Red Lantern (1991) and Hero (2002).

The Great Wall

Among many career triumphs, he won global accolades for his magnificent staging of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympiad, a feat that fan and fellow filmmaker Steven Spielberg called “the grandest spectacle of the New Millennium from this creative genius.” That accomplishment landed Zhang as runner-up for Time magazine’s 2008 Person of the Year.

Producer Charles Roven raves, “The Great Wall has all the visual splendor and spectacle of an extravagant film, and it is shot amazingly by one of the most iconic filmmakers working today. His visuals are stunning, the colors that he uses are incredible, and the shots that he designs—whether they’re regular 24 frames or slow-motion—are art.”

Roven also appreciated that Zhang Yimou embraced the throughline of cultural collaboration that permeated the story. “Watching Yimou, with his cinematic vision, translate the script into a unique way of creating spectacle is an unforgettable memory. He was quite interested in blending the cinema styles of Western tent-poles with Chinese filmmaking,” notes Roven. “Here was material that was completely conducive to it, and we were thrilled that he wanted to join the production.”

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“The Great Wall is in the lyrics of our National Anthem, so it symbolizes the same thing in the heart of all Chinese, which is our people, our country and our history,” reflects Zhang Yimou. “We use it to express many things spiritual. To all of us in China, The Great Wall is a symbol of China’s national spirit. It resonates in every Chinese person, as a symbol of our traditions and our flesh-and-blood.”

The filmmaker believes that applies to this story as well. “In the movie, The Great Wall symbolizes the safeguard of peace and national spirit,” he continues. “I thought the screenplay was a special story, especially when you look at The Wall from a different angle. The Wall was built to protect our homeland from invaders. From this perspective, it makes little difference whether the enemy is people or monsters.”

For Zhang Yimou, to mount this undertaking would be to celebrate enormous pride. “This is a movie about Chinese history and culture shot entirely on location in China,” he reflects. “What attracted me most was the Chinese cultural elements. Yes, it is a monster movie, but I believed I could still express myself through it. It is a fascinating story with interesting themes and emotions.”

Now playing across the Philippines, The Great Wall is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Behold Creech, the lovable creature in action-comedy ‘Monster Trucks’

Paramount Pictures’ new family adventure Monster Trucks centers on young, smalltown hero, Tripp (Lucas Till) and a strange, ‘monster’ appropriately named Creech, one of an undiscovered species of oil-consuming underground sea creatures.

The film presented several challenges in bringing Creech to life, with the use of computer-generated imagery.

Director Chris Wedge shares, “The concept of our movie, in case it hasn’t occurred to you, is really silly. It’s just big and fun, and I wanted to make the contrast between reality and our monster as crisp as I could. I wanted to ground the live-action, I wanted to ground the movie. So I set it in this North Dakota boom town, and I put a kid that was down on his luck in a gritty junkyard, and I wanted the creature to seem as real as I could, but as impossible as I could. So we used reference from everything—from an octopus to a walrus to a seal and a beluga whale.

“And I wanted it to emote like an animal, not like a character,” continues the director. “It has the range of expression that maybe your dog does. I knew it was all going to be in the eyes. I wanted the limbs to all feel heavy and labored under gravity in the world, so everything that he did when he was out of the water was difficult and I wanted to convey that. You got most of it from his attitude, from his head poses, and the expression you get from his eyes.

On top of that, a lot of emotion comes from the truck itself, which Creech has took possession of.

“I always thought that the truck was a character,” says Wedge. “And it’s the thing that results from this kid and this creature in this truck that he built. So the idea was that this weird creature comes squirting out of the ground. He’s as helpless on land as an octopus is. But when you put him into this shell of a truck in a certain way it becomes a super suit for him. So he can move really fast, he can hide in it and it protects him, but it can also move in unexpected ways. And that’s what I wanted to convey. And because the film is a fun, big family adventure, I wanted it to look like it was having fun.”

With Creech inside the truck, the vehicle’s going to look alive. “I wanted it to move the way that it might when you’d take your little Matchbox or Hot Wheels car when you were a kid, and you were running it around the kitchen table or over the arm of your sofa,” Wedge exclaims. “You could make it jump and go, ‘Zoom, zoom!’ That’s how I wanted the truck to move.”

From the director of Ice Age, Chris Wedge, comes Paramount Pictures’ new family adventure Monster Trucks starring Lucas Till (X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Apocalypse) and Jane Levy (Don’t Breathe).

Looking for any way to get away from the life and town he was born into, Tripp (Till), a high school senior, builds a Monster Truck from bits and pieces of scrapped cars. After an accident at a nearby oil-drilling site displaces a strange and subterranean creature with a taste and a talent for speed, Tripp may have just found the key to getting out of town and a most unlikely friend.

Melding cutting edge visual elffects and state-of-the-art CGI, Monster Trucks is an action filled adventure for the whole family that will keep you on the edge of your seat and ultimately touch your heart.

Opening across the Philippines on February 1, 2017, Monster Trucks is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.