The Lost City of Z

The Lost City of Z
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In 1925, Percy Fawcett ventured into the Amazon in search of a myth. What he discovered became legendary.
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A true-life drama, centering on British explorer Col. Percival Fawcett, who disappeared while searching for a mysterious city in the Amazon in the 1920s.

Title:The Lost City of Z
Release Date:March 15, 2017
Genres:Action, Adventure, Drama, History
Production Co.:Plan B Entertainment, Sierra / Affinity, MICA Entertainment, MadRiver Pictures, Keep Your Head
Production Countries:United States of America
Director:James Gray, Morag Cameron
Casts:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Plot Keywords:snake, biography, amazon, tribe, jungle, explorer, journey, 1920s, based on book

The Lost City of Z Reviews

  • Massive let down
    by peter-stead-740-486963 on 28 March 2017

    52 out of 78 people found the following review useful:

    It's a really good example of how a terrible script can completely destroy a movie. There are too many things which make no sense to list, but the key issues are:

    For a film that seems so keen to virtue-signal about white ignorance and racism, it does nothing to explain to us Fawcett's theories about the people of Z. Who were they? How did their civilisation operate? Why did they disappear? Surely these explorers would have built up far more of a picture from the surrounding tribes, artefacts, and previous finds. There is a tiny smattering of these things, but in 2h21ms nowhere near enough to build up a mythology. Therefore it's difficult to see why this obsesses Fawcett. You literally get more detail from the quests in the Indiana Jones movies.

    Instead it focuses relentlessly on the most tedious and dangerous aspects of the trips, their suffering, or switches back to London with almost every old man of course a stiff- upper-lip racist and sexist cliché. Imagine a more insidious General Melchett from Blackadder Goes Forth and you won't be far off.

    There is an extremely cringey attempt to insert a modern feminist perspective. At one stage, Nina wants to go on the expedition. Her reasoning? She found an important document relating to it. This apparently makes her equal to Fawcett's many years of soldiering and survival skills. It's clumsy and anachronistic. The trip could very well kill them both and so would leave their children orphaned. Surely a more logical argument would be whether he has to go at all. He is, after all, a father, and has responsibilities at home.

    The First World War section adds absolutely nothing and captures none of the horror of the battlefield. It's all just tally-ho chaps, almost Hallmark channel-like. Just awful.

    Sienna Miller, Robert Pattinson and especially Charlie Hunnam wring what they can from such a sparsely-written script and should be commended for that, which is why this isn't a 1.

    Don't be fooled by the title - it's not about a lost city or even a lost man. It's a lazy and pretentious destruction of what could have been a thrilling find.

  • Exploitation and exploration
    by Diand on 22 February 2017

    46 out of 69 people found the following review useful:

    Based on the true story of British explorer Percy Fawcett, who made several expeditions to the lost city of Z, believed to be the remains of El Dorado in the Brazilian jungle. The movie follows three of these expeditions and first picks up his life with a long introduction from his military career onwards. The movie becomes only interesting with the start of his first map making expedition on the border of Bolivia and Brazil in 1906. Based on documentary and field research (pottery finds), Fawcett became ever more convinced that a complex civilization had existed there. The movie then touches upon a second expedition initiated by the Royal Geographical Society that lead to controversy about his role in that expedition. The first World War comes in between before he makes his last expedition in 1925 with his son.

    The script is based on the fascinating book by David Grann, who visited the region in 2005 and came back with interesting findings about Fawcett's expedition. By now, Fawcett has turned into an icon of exploring ancient civilizations, making its way into popular culture, Indiana Jones and The Lost World come to mind.

    The movie and script is however too obvious for the story at hand. It is painting by numbers, going from phase A to B in Fawcett's life without any intelligent storytelling, ending up with a movie that I first thought was made for TV or online. Compare this to the classic Herzog movies Aguirre or Fitzcarraldo, and it is clear what went wrong here: Being about exploration, the movie itself shies away from exploring cinematic possibilities and just plays it safe. Wouldn't it for example not be far more interesting to just focus on that final expedition and make the multiple accounts into a movie? Why Pitt's Plan B saw anything in this is beyond me, as the company has by now a reputation of risk-taking (and often being awarded for that).

    But don't get me wrong: The movie is still watchable and the story itself is enough to keep your attention. And it is very nice to see Darius Khondji popping up here as DoP, you can still see his groundbreaking work in Se7en shining through.

  • A stunningly shot and classically told story
    by timothycrouch-77902 on 24 March 2017

    30 out of 45 people found the following review useful:

    This is a wonderful film that restores faith in the traditional art of movie making. Richly shot on 35mm by DoP Darius Khondji, every frame feels like an exquisite painting, carefully constructed by a filmmaker at the top of his game in James Gray. The backdrops of England, the Western Front and Amazonia all have interest on every inch of the screen and yet for all this color and texture, it is the characters that leave you thinking long after exiting the theater.

    Charlie Hunnam, as Col. Percy Fawcett, is adequate and measured, but it is star turns from Sienna Miller (Percy's wife), Robert Pattinson (companion Henry Costin), and a ruddy cheeked and opulent Angus MacFadyen (wealthy explorer James Murray) that make the film. The haunting struggle and draw of the jungle and the world Percy leaves behind is revealed through committed portrayals of three dimensional characters who are both authentic to their era and yet still relevant in 2017. And that is the theme that is so skillfully woven throughout the film by Gray, the conflict of portraying the "other" as whole and independent in a world that simplifies and condescends. That Gray could make a story about an early 20th Century British explorer resonate so profoundly with the world we live in today, shows that this is his finest work to date.

    All lovers of cinema should see it, but anyone able see it from a beautiful 35mm print should definitely not miss the opportunity. This is filmmaking as it is supposed to be.

  • Beautiful film with extraordinary acting
    by Ellen Hilburn on 18 April 2017

    14 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

    I thought this film, though long, was spectacular. It was about sacrifice and exploration and having the ability to stand up, in the face of ridicule, and listen to your heart and follow it at all costs.

    The acting was incredible. Charlie Hunnam as Percy Fawcett was brilliant and transporting. Rob Pattinson and Sienna Miller, too, were incredible. The backdrops of all exterior scenes were like paintings, though incredibly real.

    That this was based on a true story is stunning. Hands down one of the best movies ever made!

  • Biopic of the end of empire
    by robbierunciman-1 on 26 March 2017

    16 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

    I enjoyed the movie - it was a bit paint by numbers but it covered a huge area of his life and his motivations, it was also a story of decline, the derring-do of the British empire and particular type of hero. I think that he has been overlooked because he 'failed' but the film shows how he respected the cultures he found, in contrast to the other members of RGS. The class-based snobbery of the period is also well represented. Highly watchable and recommended.

  • If the book is as captivating as the film, I'm glad I haven't read it!
    by Ben Baber on 29 March 2017

    10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

    I found the experience of watching this film to be akin to that of listening to a person living with dementia telling you about their life, with an adoring relative interjecting only to say "Oh he was lovely!" every now and then.

    It is, in essence, a series of episodes vaguely summarising various events of Fawcett's life. Occasionally but briefly in intricate detail, but predominantly with a general lack of substance. To return to my analogy, I imagined myself at one point saying "That's incredible! Tell me how you felt at that moment, did you realise right then the magnitude of your discovery? Tell me about the gruelling journey home, was it fraught with peril?" Only for the storyteller to continue.. "So I arrived back in London...".

    No! Please give me more details. I've dedicated over two hours of my life to hear your story, but I've come away with roughly the same amount of information as I could've gleaned from the back of a primary-school student's pencil case. You know, like the ones that just have a time-line with monarchs' names or some such alongside, but are lacking in any further description.

    On the plus side, it was quite nicely shot at points although it did feel as if this, coupled with the apparent fact that this film was shown in selected, more 'prestigious' and therefore expensive theatres/screens were little more than candid narcissism and was tantamount to the director pleasuring himself in my face for the price of my £16 ticket. Additionally, and somewhat bizarrely, the first 20% of the film had a near-constant and somewhat mediocre musical score, immediately followed by a scene wherein some mediocre opera playing within earshot of the characters could be easily mistaken for a continuation of said score. This was intrusive and unnecessary, and although it didn't continue throughout the duration of the film, this did not excuse its inclusion in the first place.

    Due to the lack of detail or any attempt at interconnection between what I shall continue to refer to as 'the episodes' with a deliberate lack of capitalisation as I don't consider them worthy of a title, alongside abrupt changes in setting, the experience could also be likened to that of being held hostage in a stranger's living room as they mindlessly alternate channels between a Channel5 period drama and a recap of a Blue Peter trip to the Amazon told from the perspective of a donkey wearing blinkers, such is the lack of momentum and detail. Dialogue is painfully slow and, were this not the case, the running time could've been significantly shortened or better still been put to good use in filling in at least some of the notably absent detail. I am an advocate of a move away from the 90minute format of most films but this does nothing to support that argument.

    There is also a borderline-distasteful adoration of Fawcett's alleged delivery of faux-profound proclamations worthy of being printed on the back of a market-stall iPhone case. I am left unsure of whether this was artistic licence or if Fawcett really was that much of a nob. Similarly, little reference is made of his questionable attitude toward the role and capability of women or his insistence upon prioritising the recognition of his peers and reclaiming of the status of his family name over the emotional well-being of his dependants.

    Ultimately, his blind faith led only by local legend and a randomly placed Russian fortune teller, and failure to commit to his children led Fawcett either to his death and that of his son or, according to this film, to his decision to remain in the utopia he may have discovered, thus abandoning his wife and remaining children and leaving them only with a faint hope that he survived. The former is likely more plausible, though the latter would come as no surprise.

    In summary The Lost City of Z is a vacuous, self-indulgent and ultimately forgettable portrayal of what may have been a great man, but likely was the exploration equivalent of a modern-day philosophy student embarking upon a degree in order to suspend the responsibilities of adult life.

    Recommended as an alternative to viewing your Auntie's slide show of sunburn-heavy holiday snaps from her latest trip to Alicante or similar Sun holiday destination.

  • Interesting portrait of a man, indeed but as a movie it almost lost me.
    by subxerogravity on 15 April 2017

    11 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

    It's one of those labor of loves it seems as the film felt like it was more interested in making an artistic narrative than it was about making money. I can respect that, but it was a boring movie for that reason.

    The Lost city of Z is about a British explorer named Percy Fawcett who while on a survey mission in the amazon discovers evidence that the "savages" once had a civilization the might even be older than the one he came from and spends his life trying to find it.

    I loved Charlie Hunnam in it. Hands down, his most grown up acting performance, and really made Fawcett a compelling man to follow. In fact the whole cast was impressive with Sienna Miller as Fawcett's wife and Robert Patterson who I totally did not recognize under the bread as Fawcett's most trusted companion on his trips. Tom Holland is also in the movie as Fawcett's oldest son who joins him on his last journey to the amazon. Other people gave great performances, but these are the ones I knew by name, making it a pretty stellar cast for me.

    While this movie does such a great job making Fawcett's life look fascinating,following him through his time with the army to his time as an explorer, I must admit that the slow burn of the narrative almost put me to sleep. It reminds me of another project Brad Pitt (who produced the movie) was evolved in, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Though the Lost City of Z is not as painfully slow (Notice the tile is half that of the Jesse James movie), the combination of the quiet tone and it's speed was not something I wanted to sit in a movie theater and watch. It's not that the movie is long, it's that it feels long, and it feels like something that the movie does on purpose.

    I feel like the movie tries to gives us the realest accounts of a man's life as they can and I can respect that, but man, the two hours and thirty minutes this film comes in at was not easy at all to get through. That's just my warning.

  • An above average true story
    by alindsay-al on 29 March 2017

    13 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

    After being made to watch the trailer for this film a few times before other films I actually had some interest in the lost city of z and this film is alright but I don't really care if I ever watch it again. The premise of the film sees an explorer go on an adventure to find a lost city in the amazon. Charlie Hunnam plays the explorer in this film and he does a great job in this film, at first I thought he was a little stoic but he really grows as the film progresses. He brings a lot of passion an humanity to his character and you do care about him and his family situation. Robert pattinson from the twilight franchise is in this film and he was really good as well, I really liked the friendship that builds between him and hunnam and bought it. Sienna miller plays hunnam's wife in this film and I thought she was a strong character and her chemistry with hunnam was really good. Tom Holland who is the new spider man is in this film and he does a really good job especially when you consider that he is still a young man. Also it is great to see ian McDiarmid who Is the emperor in the star wars franchise in a film again. The story is easily the weakest part of this film, it follows this guy and really his obsession with finding this city without really good motivation. You never fully care about him finding the city and this film goes through a lot of side plots that just aren't focused or interesting enough for you to care. The script of the film has some great dramatic monologues and dialogue that does help make you care about the performance's. However, this film is a complete humourless affair and it does hurt the film as there isn't really a moment to relax. The style of the film has some decent action scenes in it and some great cinematography. But it has severe pacing issues, as mentioned before the film attempts to much and it makes this film a rather boring affair. Overall this is an okay film but probably isn't worth watching if you are not interested in the subject matter.

  • Exploration epic, stirring beyond belief
    by PotassiumMan on 16 April 2017

    14 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

    One of the few films I've seen in recent memory that lingers on in a haunting way after you've seen it. It tells the story of Percy Fawcett, the British military officer and explorer who made it his life's work to discover an ancient civilization hidden deep in the Amazon jungle. Charlie Hunnam gives the best performance of his career so far as Fawcett. Equally superlative is Sienna Miller, who plays his devoted wife who willingly accepts her husband's insistence on sacrifice in the name of the family and greater glory.

    Although this film has a lush, visually splendid look, there is nothing self-indulgent or superficial about it. It epitomizes how arduous Fawcett's objective was and how he never let go of what became his deepest longing. The film earns its running time by portraying the psychology of a man whose dream never leaves him.

    I am not sure the extent to which the film scrubs Fawcett of his own attitudes toward the tribal peoples that lived in this part of the world and I don't care. The film does a good enough job or portraying Fawcett in morally ambiguous shades but also refuses to judge him for the man that he was. The film is more about what went from being an impromptu assignment to an intensely personal cause for one man. It is one of the richest pieces of cinema in recent times. Recommended to the highest degree.

  • Should be renamed The Lost City of Zzzz...
    by anerdsham on 24 March 2017

    15 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

    What was probably an incredibly interesting story has been turned into an incredibly dull film. Charlie Hunnam's Fawcett is as flat as roadkill and Robert Pattinson might as well have stayed at home in bed for all he brings to the tale. As for Angus Macfadyen; he obviously thought he was in a different movie entirely. Three times during this film Fawcett travels to the Bolivian jungle yet we barely learn anything about the place or his expeditions. The director skips hastily from one badly written scene to another with all the depth of a Stephenie Meyer novel. This film is an episodic series of set pieces, many of which should have been left in a heap on the cutting room floor; the entire WW1 sequence brings absolutely nothing to the story except filling quarter of an hour of screen time with clichéd dialogue and hackneyed visuals. With Fawcett's final trip to the jungle you might think that the fabled Lost City of Z might finally make an appearance; you'd be wrong. The film fizzles like a damp squib and then the credits roll, and not too soon either. Snore on.

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