365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About


The Lost City of Z (2017)

The Lost City of Z was a movie that had all of the makings of a movie I should love. I love aa good adventure movie and the idea of floating down a wooden raft in the Amazon River sounds like something I'd enjoy. I'm a big fan of John Grisham novels, but most of us law thrillers (with the exception of ones like A Time to Kill or The Firm which were adapted into films) often tend to blend together. That is, with the exception of The Testament, a novel that was equal parts big city courtroom as it was Amazon Jungle adventure. There is something about The Amazon that I find intriguing, almost like I can't get enough of it...especially when it's displayed onscreen as a true adventure story. This is exactly what James Gray's (Two Lovers, The Yards) is. Despite not knowing anything else about this movie I was intrigued by this one sentence plot line and the fact that it had an 87% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of its release. Unfortunately, this movie did not live up to my lofty expectations. At 140 minutes it was often too slow and meandering. But at the same time, it was not long enough to tell the entire story. There was too much to tell and the cuts between the various events happening. So many parts of this movie needed to be longer. Yet at the same time, the movie felt like it was way too long to begin with. It was one of those "damned if you do, damned if you don't" scenarios. I don't know if it ultimately failed. But it certainly did not succeed. 

Ironically, there were two movies that recently came out that I wanted to see. The first was The Lost City of Z which had an 87% fresh critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, but just 65% with audiences. The second was The Promise that earned just 45% with the critics, but a remarkable 95% with audiences. The trailer for The Lost City of Z looked more interesting than that of The Promise. However, I am starting to believe that I picked the wrong movie to see. The 95% audience score for The Promise very much intrigues me though and, somehow, I think that this will be a film that I will see in the theater. But that is neither here nor there. The Lost City of Z is a movie that, if I wasn't writing this review, would be lost from my mind despite the fact that I just saw it a couple of days ago.

The premise is good. Charlie Hunnam (King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword, F/X's Sons of Anarchy) stars as Percy Fawcett, a British Army officer and surveyor who in the early 1900's, leads an expedition through the Amazonian Jungle in an effort to discover the border between Brazil and Bolivia. The mission, ordered by the Royal Geographical Society, is an important one because by mapping the vague border between the two countries, a war can potentially be avoided while, at the same time, British economic interests remain undisturbed. Fawcett, a skilled anthropologist and Colonel in the British Artillery, is not particularly fond of this assignment at first, mostly because his wife Nina (Sienna Miller - American Sniper, Foxcatcher) is pregnant with the young couple's second child. But Percy knows he doesn't have a choice and, because of his inquisitive nature, learns quickly to embrace the challenge, even though he knows it'll be a couple of years before he returns. He brings with him some men, including Corporal Henry Costin (Robert Pattinson - Twilight, Water for Elephants), a more experienced explorer and Fawcett's best friend. They are offered a crew of indigenous people as well as supplies and a raft by the monarch down in South America.

When the group begins its voyage down unexplored territory, you feel a sense of adventure coming your way. That is only heightened when it encounters its first obstacle. I was on the edge of my seat. Unfortunately, it just went downhill from there. His journey quickly becomes one less about surveying and one about history as Fawcett discovers artifacts that suggest that there was a previously unknown, advanced civilization that may have once inhabited the region. Fawcett becomes obsessed with proving this and finding this lost city of Z, so much so that it consumes him. Despite the dangers, he returns to the scene multiple times to prove to those back in Europe that this ancient life existed. But like many of our greatest explorers, his compulsions lead to his ultimate demise.

Hunnam isn't great here, but he's believable. He certainly doesn't overdo his role and gets the job done. But it never felt like he portrayed the obsession and desperation that we were supposed to believe. He reminded me of a less secure and less obsessed Brad Pitt in A River Runs Through It. He has the same good looks and the same charm. But this movie wasn't character driven. Instead, it revolved around a story while also allowing us to appreciate what a rafting trip down the Amazon River in the early 1900's might have felt like. I thought that cinematography of the movie was the best part, but some will argue it was the pacing of the storytelling. I actually found the pacing to be incredibly painful at times. As mentioned, we get multiple trips to the Amazon. We get multiple trips home. And there is also s sprinkle of World War I, which I really didn't think was necessary for the story. This movie was LONG. And at the same time, some of the scenes felt rushed. It was beautifully shot. For example, at one point everyone on the raft was getting sick and/or dying and one of the indigenous people as asked by Percy how much longer there is to go, to which he replies, "Many weeks." So I was very excited about the potential hardship that the group would incur over this period. But then the first next scene, they have all successfully arrived at their destination unscathed. You wanted more. You wanted much, MUCH more. It' was almost like Ang Lee and Terrence Malik got together and teased with a "What could have been".

Plot 8.5/10
Character Development 7/10
Character Chemistry 7/10
Acting 7/10
Screenplay 7.5/10
Directing 6.5/10
Cinematography 10/10
Sound 8/10
Hook and Reel 6.5/10
Universal Relevance 7.5/10


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