Movie Review: “The Lost City of Z”
The Lost City of Z
The 17th century has come to an end, and while the new century has begun, Major Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) is an experienced, but still undecorated member of the British military. Throughout his career thus far, he has failed to accomplish any great achievements. Now, however, he has been requested ny the National Geographical Society to make a multi-year trip to South America. His mission is to draw a border line between Bolivia and Peru, but this border would cut through the amazon rainforest.
This means that he must journey through the amazon rainforest, a mission that will take him from his wife and son for years (and that is only if he manages to survive the dangers of the forest). Knowing that this is a necessary step in moving up the professional ladder, Major Percy Fawcett accepts the mission. While there, he discovers evidence of an ancient civilization that exists deep in the Amazonian forest. He quickly becomes obsessed with finding this lost city as well the knowledge and wonders that it may hold. If right, this discovery could change everything. It could make Percy Fawcett’s name one that history books will never forget, and it could change our understanding of human history and human evolution. However, this obsession comes at a cost, as it dominates his life, threatens his professional reputation, and jeopardizes his relationship with his own family.
The Pros & Cons
Charlie Hunnam (+6pts)
Felt Long (-5pts)
Sienna Miller (+5pts)
Pro: Charlie Hunnam (+6pts)
After watching Sons of Anarchy, I know that Charlie Hunnam is a talented actor who can handle complex roles. He carried a lot of this story on his back in the sense that he made his character's obsession believable when the writing alone would not have done so. This character had tremendous inner conflict. On one hand, he wanted to be home with his family, but on the other hand, he longed to find the hidden city. He wanted to satisfy his curiosity, and discover the secrets that the hidden city may have held, but he also wanted to cement his name in history and improve the lives of his family.
In some scenes, his desire to better his children's lives seemed honest. In other scenes, bettering his children's lives seemed like the excuse he told himself and others in order to justify his obsession. Then in other scenes he just wanted to see his wife and children again. These were strong and conflicting motivations and emotions, but Charlie Hunnam did an excellent job bringing it all to the character. He made his character's conflicting emotions feel natural, and made his conflicting motivations feel believable, and the movie was better for having Charlie Hunnam in it.
Con: Felt Long (-5pts)
This was a two hour and twenty minute movie. There were parts that I did not notice the length of the movie, because I was so invested in it. Unfortunately, there were plenty of other sections that left me checking the time and wondering how this movie was still going on. I think part of it had to do with how much of Percy Fawcett's life the filmmakers chose to tell in this movie.
To put it into perspective, the beginning of the film showed Percy's oldest son as a five year old boy. Then Percy went on a handful of long explorations. The filmmakers used these explorations to fast forward the clock so that, when Percy came back home, his son was a few years older. By the end of the movie, his son was a young man. Part of me liked seeing so much of this character's life, but another part of me thought that it made for a movie that felt unnecessarily long and should have been trimmed down into a more refined story.
Pro: Sienna Miller (+5pts)
The actress that played Nina Fawcett (Percy's wife) was very important. While I believed that Percy wanted to be home with his family, the actress playing Nina had to keep the audience wanting to see more. Otherwise the movie would risk boring the audience whenever Charlie Hunnam was not in a jungle. The actress playing the wife was Sienna Miller and I thought she nailed this role. She dealt with things like fear and insecurity, but she did so while simultaneously coming across as strong and independent.
My only complaint was during a scene in which gender equality was argued between her and her husband. It was a fine scene, but it did not go anywhere for the rest of the movie and did not serve the plot at all. It came across to me as the filmmakers forcing this topic into the story when it would not naturally have been brought up otherwise. That being said, that was not Sienna Miller's fault and I thought she did a great job with this character whenever she was on screen.
Con: Ending (-5pts)
I was not a fan of the end of this movie. I have no intention of giving that ending away, since that would be a huge spoiler, but I found the ending of this movie to be very anti-climactic and unsatisfactory. I can see why the filmmakers decided to end it this way, but I did not think it made for a very good ending for a movie. I do not want to say anything more about it, but just know that it felt like a disappointment, and I am confident you will agree if you see the movie.
Pro: Exploration (+10pts)
As I stated before, this movie covered a handful of Percy Fawcett's adventures and explorations. This was when the movie was at its best, in my opinion. The filmmakers appropriately showed the dangers that come during any expedition into a jungle like the one that Percy went into, but I also thought the movie accurately showed the simplicity, the wonder, and the thrill that would come to an explorer of this forest. The movie was also shot very well, as it depicted the forest in a very visually satisfying way, which went a long way in pulling the audience into the story.
Con: Focus (-4pts)
This movie suffered from some issues regarding focus. The Lost City of Z was presented as a movie about the lifelong journey one man went on to find a lost city. In certain parts of the story, the movie was exactly that. In other parts of the story, the filmmakers tried to make it all about addiction, focusing on the side effects of Percy's obsession. Both elements could have worked, but the filmmakers kept jumping back and forth between which of these two elements to focus on, and I think it hurt the story as a whole. Either approach would have been fine, but the filmmakers needed to pick one and stick with it. They could have still shown the other element on screen, but letting the other element take the back burner would have made this movie feel a lot more coherent.
Grade: B- (82pts)
Gun to my head, I would say this was a decent movie, but it had its issues and could have been a lot better than it was. I thought it felt unnecessarily long and drawn out, and it did not feel like the filmmakers knew what they wanted this movie to be. They tried to focus on Percy finding the city, while focusing on what an obsession like the one he experienced can do to a man and his life. Unfortunately, I did not think the filmmakers executed these two elements of the story well. The highlights of this movie were its visuals and its lead actors.
Both Charlie Hunnam and Sienna Miller gave great performances that made The Lost City of Z significantly more watchable than it would have been otherwise. I even enjoyed, the almost unrecognizable, Robert Pattinson in this movie. This movie had its fair share of strengths and weaknesses, and I thought it ended up being only slightly better than average. It would not be a bad movie to watch if you are bored and cannot find anything better, but just know that it had its issues.