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Movie Review: The Lost City of Z
Based on a true story, The Lost City of Z tells the story of Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam). As a young man, Major Percy Fawcett was an experience but undecorated member of the British military. Fawcett is then requested ny the National Geographical Society to make a multi-year trip to South America to draw a border line between Bolivia and Peru. This border would cut through the amazon rainforest and this mission would take him from his wife and son for years (and that is only if he survives the dangers of the forest). Knowing that this is a necessary step in moving up the professional ladder, Fawcett accepts the mission. While there, he discovers evidence of an ancient civilization that exists deep in the Amazonian forest. For the next twenty years, Fawcett becomes obsessed in finding this lost city as well the knowledge and wonders that it may hold, but this obsession threatens his professional reputation as well as his relationship with his family.
Charlie Hunnam (+6pts)
Felt Long (-5pts)
Sienna Miller (+5pts)
Pro - Charlie Hunnam (+6pts)
After watching Sons of Anarchy, I have come to see Charlie Hunnam for the great talent that he is. He carried a lot of this film on his back in the sense that he made the obsession believable when the writing, alone, would not have done so. This character has a tremendous inner conflict. On one hand, he wants to be home with his family and, on the other hand, he longs to find the city as well as cement his name in history to make his children'a lives better. In some scenes, his desire to better his children's lives seems honest. In some scenes, bettering his children's lives seems like an excuse to satisfy his obsession. In some scenes he just wants to see his wife and children again. These are powerful and conflicting emotions but Charlie Hunnam captured them all very well in this film. It felt natural, it felt believable and the film was better for it.
Con - Felt Long (-5pts)
This is a two hour and twenty minute movie. There were parts that I did not notice the time because I was so invested in the movie. Unfortunately there were a lot of points that left me checking the time and wondering how this movie was still going on. I think part of it has to do with how much of Percy Fawcett's life is told this movie. To put it into perspective, the beginning of the film shows Percy's oldest son as a five year old boy. Then Percy goes on a handful of long explorations. The movie uses these explorations to fast forward the clock so that, when Percy comes back home, his son is a few years older. Then by the end of the movie, his son is 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 long.
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 film 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 coming across as strong and independent. My only complaint is 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 just creating a dramatic scene for Sienna to chew on. That being said, that is not Sienna Miller's fault and I thought she gave a great performance in that scene as well as throughout the rest of the time she was on screen.
Con - Ending (-5pts)
I was not a fan of the end of this movie. I have no intention of giving the 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 this ending worked for this story in a movie format. I do not want to say anything more about it, but you will know what I mean if you watch this movie.
Pro - Exploration (+10pts)
As I stated before, this movie covers a handful of Percy Fawcett's adventures and explorations. This is when the movie was at it's best, in my opinion. The movie shows the dangers that come during an expedition into the jungle, but I also thought the movie accurately shows the simplicity, the wonders and the thrill that would come an explorer of the Amazonian forest. The movie is also shot very well. It is a very visually satisfying movie which is something it needed to be in order to pull the audience into the story.
Con - Focus (-4pts)
This movie suffers from some focus issues. The Lost City of Z is presented as a movie about the lifelong journey to find the lost city. In certain parts of the film, it is exactly that. In other parts of the movie it tries to be a character story about Percy's obsession. Both elements work but the movie keeps jumping back and forth between these two elements which I think hurt the film as a whole. Either approach would have been fine, but the filmmakers needed to pick one and stick with it.
Rating: B- (82pts)
Gun to my head, I would say this is a good movie but it has its issues and could have been a lot better. I thought this movie felt long and it did not know what it wanted to be. It tried to focus on finding the city while focusing on what an obsession can do to a man and his life but I did not think it was executed well. The highlights of this movie are it's visuals and it's lead actors. Both Charlie Hunnam and Sierra Miller gave great performances that make The Lost City of Z signifantly more watchable. I even enjoyed, the almost unrecognizable, Robert Pattinson in this movie.
This movie has its fair share of Pros and Cons and, while I thought it was slightly better than average, I would not recommend rushing to the theater to see this one. If anything, I think this is an okay movie to rent when it comes out on home video. It is a decent movie but will not blow anyone away.