Review – The Lost City of Z

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I have returned!  After a few extremely busy weeks, combined with a lackluster batch of new movies, I’m back in the theater, again!  Actually, I really wanted to catch Colossal, last weekend, but, after a mere one week in wide release, it was nowhere to be found.  Look, folks, I can’t do this alone, okay?  On those rare weekends when I can’t make it out to the movies, you have to go support them so that they don’t vanish before I get to there!  And it’s not like I was in my little hometown where there was virtually no chance of getting this film; I had traveled to Indianapolis/Bloomington for the weekend, and it was nowhere around there, either!  Yeesh!  I still hope to catch it, sometime, somewhere, somehow.

In the meantime, here I am with The Lost City of Z.  I really would think that, with the cast and the premise, this film would be getting more attention than it is.  Based on the true story of Percy Fawcett’s (Charlie Hunnam) search for a fabled lost city (dubbed “Zed” by Fawcett) in the Amazon, The Lost City of Z harkens back to the grand adventure films that were prevalent during the infancy of cinema.  Of course, the biggest difference is that those were fictional, while this one is not.

And it shows.  The Lost City of Z isn’t structured like a typical Hollywood adventure.  It isn’t paced like a typical Hollywood adventure.  And it doesn’t play out like a typical Hollywood adventure.  But that doesn’t make the film any less fascinating, thrilling, or enthralling.  Much of the film plays very much like a grand river adventure – a real-life Indiana Jones.  But these episodes are broken up by interjected reality, when Fawcett travels back home to his family in London.  It’s never fully off to the races, but that’s what makes it different from other films of its ilk.  Because of this unconventional storytelling, both Fawcett and the audience get to see firsthand the effect that his obsession with the Lost City is having on his family, giving the film and the character an empathetic component.

The film also calls attention to society’s tendency to be close-minded – even those who proclaim to be the exact antithesis.  Open-mindedness continues to be mocked and ridiculed by many, today, whether we’re talking about basic human rights, the existence of the supernatural, or plenty that resides in the in-between.  Here, the notion of an ancient, undiscovered civilization is openly derided to Fawcett’s face, yet he stands firm.  History has shown that those who have empirical evidence and good, old-fashioned reason and logic behind their theories are typically the ones who laugh last (despite the fact that there are still, to this day, ludicrous flat-earthers creeping around out there as well as those who don’t believe global warming is a real thing).  Fawcett, himself, is guilty of a different form of close-mindedness in a scene with his wife Nina (Sienna Miller).  I’ll let you discover the particulars of that, but the irony should not be lost on the viewer.

The cast deserves a mention.  Charlie Hunnam does an excellent job as he takes the lead.  Sienna Miller gives a strong performance, as well, but she has made a career out of delivering unmemorable performances in unmemorable roles.  She shines a little bit towards the end but that is largely the case again for her, unfortunately.  The standout of the entire movie might very well be Robert Pattinson.  Anyone who was in the Twilight films tends to get a bad rap, but Kristen Stewart has shown that she’s not actually a bad actress, Anna Kendrick is consistently fantastic, and here Pattinson transforms himself and is nearly unrecognizable as Fawcett’s partner Henry Costin.  He is confident, natural, and believable, making it all look easy as he glides from scene to scene.  I’m truly beginning to think it was the material and the directing that was entirely at fault for the debacle that was the Twilight series, as the cast is proving that they have what it takes to deliver when they’re provided strong material and competent filmmakers to work under.

The Lost City of Z isn’t your stereotypical Hollywood adventure, but it’s still a good one.  There’s enough fun and excitement to hold over those who are there for that reason, but enough character and story to elevate the film above fluff and give it some depth.  It may not be enough of either to really stand out in the marketplace, but I’m having a hard time finding much to complain about.  There could be a minor nitpick here and there, but nitpicking is for noobs and those things really don’t matter in the big picture.

The bottom line is that The Lost City of Z is the kind of film that people say they want but then don’t go to see.  If the viewer keeps their expectations in check by reminding themselves that the story is true – and they therefore shouldn’t be expecting anything like wild Hollywood twists or magical beasts/creatures to appear – then it will be worth the time to catch this one and to support this sort of filmmaking in the way that really counts – money.  Otherwise, stop complaining that these sorts of movies aren’t at the top of the weekly box office.  You only have yourself to blame.

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Review – The Lost City of Z

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