Thursday, July 20, 2017

'The Lost City of Z' Is a Well-Crafted "Old-Fashioned" Adventure Film

The Lost City of Z is a biographical adventure drama film about Major Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam), a British explorer sent on a survey mission to uncharted Amazon rainforest, and from which he gained the lifelong obsession of finding the “lost city of Z.”  Despite the ridicule he received from the Royal Geographical Society, he managed to find backing for two separate expeditions, in which he was accompanied by, first, Corporal Henry Costin (Robert Pattinson) and then, second, by his son, Jack Fawcett (Tom Holland).  (Yep, that’s King Arthur, Edward Cullen, and Spider-Man together in the same movie.)

It’s not exactly a “fun” adventure film.  Nevertheless, it’s generally absorbing – largely thanks to magnetic performances (especially by Hunnam), striking cinematography, fabulous production value, and measured direction.  It’s the type of movie that could have easily become tedious and scattered, but everything was kept together because it was so well-crafted.
The movie makes a dignified, unsensational approach to the featured story.  Hence, paired with Hunnam’s performance, it creates a thoughtful and heartfelt presentation of Fawcett’s life.  On paper, his desire to find this mythical city is bananas.  But the audience is made to sympathize with him, by contrasting this wild dream with the sacrifice he had to pay and disrespect he had to undergo.  And somehow, just like that, “the lost city of Z” begins to subtly and metaphorically represent the noble and brave pursuits of life.   Thus, there’s emotional impact.

Furthermore, The Lost City of Z is supposed to be a throwback to classic filmmaking tradition.  And, indeed, it does give off the same endearing, artistic, “old-fashioned” vibes as movies like Lawrence of Arabia.
The Lost City of Z may not be for everyone.  Its lengthy runtime and heavy story are a tad intimidating.  Personally, though I liked it, I don’t think I would ever watch it again.  It’s that kind of movie for me.  But, anyway, serious cinema fans who are ready to invest a bit of effort will probably find it rewarding.

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