I’m a huge fan of the 2009 book, The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann, and I’m a big lover of jungle adventure and exploration stories in general; so I would say that I fit the perfect demographic audience for the new film, The Lost City of Z, which is based on Grann’s book.
Unfortunately, the movie, written and directed by James Gray, is mostly a disappointment, and, at times, downright boring. I felt as if I had been tranquilized by some sort of sleep-inducing Amazon insect – or poisonous dart from native tribesman. (Have you been to some of these valley theatres? It could happen!)
The Lost City of Z tells the story of real-life character Colonel Percy Fawcett (played by Charlie Hunnam) and his obsession with finding the mythical city of “Z” in the Amazon – and with making a name for himself no matter what the cost to him or his long-suffering family.
The book has a subplot that involves the author’s modern day investigation into Percy Fawcett and the city of Z, but none of that is present in this film, which is more of a bio-pic about the explorer, and less of an outright jungle adventure story – which is one of its failings.
The movie goes back and forth from Great Britain to the Amazon and back again, with a lengthy World War I sequence as well; and it tries to tell too big of a story in too little time, yet is somehow too long at the same time.
The Lost City of Z may have been better served as cable mini-series, or as a shorter, straight-up adventure film that focused more on the many hardships of exploring the Amazon rainforest. As is, the film is awkward, uninformative and a chore to sit through.
The movie also stars Robert Pattinson as Fawcett’s exploring partner and friend, Henry Costin; Sienna Miller as the Colonel’s wife, Nina; and Tom Holland (the current Peter Parker/Spider-Man) as Fawcett’s oldest son, Jack, who joins the Colonel’s last expedition, when both men are forever lost in the jungle.
The Lost City of Z is more like a poorly executed and clunky History Channel special than a big-budget theatrical film – more “lack of spark” than “heart of dark” – so to speak; and it’s a shame because there is an excellent and exciting story here, it just doesn’t make it to the screen. Grade: 5/10
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