Completely unlike any other adventure film out there – this one got us intrigued and engaged in its tale of exploration and obsession.
The main job of good cinema is to create things viewers never saw or imagined before, to summon into existence amazing sights, and then give them context, depth and value. James Gray understood the task before him, and achieved all of the above in The Lost City of Z.
“It’s fantastic to see James Gray get recognition from critics and audiences,” stated Amazon’s Bob Berney Sunday. “It’s so gratifying to see the filmmaker’s hard struggle in the Amazon jungle connect with movie lovers of all ages.”
Adventure films have become a bit stale, their stories following a certain predictable pattern, their characters one-dimensional, their villains boring and unimaginative… well, it seems that at least this film managed to take the beauty of the world and its amazing force to the screen.
A film that deals with venturing into the unknown, ventures into mysteries that will never be truly solved and shows the mindset of an explorer. It doesn’t just show an epic adventure, but it attempts to offer insight into the adventurer’s reasons, to show us why someone might risk their life in this search – and that is only one of the captivating qualities of this movie.
The Lost City of Z is wonderful to watch – touching and intimidating at the same time. When you look at it, it’s a story about colonial exploration that offers an image of an obsessive, flawed and driven lead character that dances around the clichés of the genre. Surprisingly, this film manages to captivate your attention through its entire 150 minutes, and it makes you think in weeks to follow.
The Lost City of Z is an adaptation from David Gran’s 2009 non-fiction work, and it follows a British military man-turned-explorer Percy Fawcett (played by Charlie Hunnam) who was the first man to venture into the rainforest of Amazon at the turn of the century. Stuck in a respectable, but undistinguished military position, due to his father’s scandal, Percy is looking for his chance. He gets one when The Royal Geographical Society offers him to map the border between Bolivia and Brazil, in order to diminish the potential for conflict between these two states. As this elevates his military, as well as societal rank, our protagonist accepts.
At first, he was there as a surveyor, but in time he became persuaded that there was evidence of a technologically advanced lost civilization hidden in the jungle. In the rainforest, he found pottery and started believing that it is proof of the existence of the lost city of Z. His quest for this place made him come back to the Amazon again and again. On this road into the Amazon, Percy is followed by his slightly annoying aide-de-camp, Henry Costin (portrayed by Robert Pattinson), and, in time, by his own son Jack (played by Tom Holland). They search tirelessly for proof that could be brought home, to prove that then held beliefs about intellectual limits of ancient societies, and perception of them being primitive are wrong.
And while everyone else is looking to use Amazon’s resources, Percy just wants to witness the artifacts of an ancient culture. Huge expeditions bring guns into the rainforest in order to fight the local tribes, while on the other hand, we have Percy trying to reason with them, looking to create an understanding that will allow him to search deeper into the jungle.
When we took the first glance at the cast, we couldn’t see them all in one film, making it grand. And we were wrong.
Hunnam was previously given more than one one-dimensional good-looking lead, but here he shows his full capacity. He is haunted, motivated, while at the same time sane and fulfilled, in a happy marriage to Nina (portrayed by Sienna Miller), and obviously a kind and loving father to his three children. Hunnam shows Percy and his obsession with the Amazon as something that can not be disregarded – a combination of desire for recognition, ego and real intellectual fascination that keeps pulling him away from his family, and into danger.
Complementing his obsession are Pattinson as Costin, who turned out to be amazingly humorous, and Holland, as protagonists son, who approaches the expedition not obsessively like his father, but with wonder that counters Percy and balances the entire film.
Amazon Studios/Bleecker Street’s The Lost City of Z had its grand opening over the holiday weekend, pulling in $112k in four theaters in L.A. and New York, averaging $28,158 per theater – one of the best averages of this year.
And it is no wonder for a movie that ties up so much without apparent effort. It is not a heart-racing adventure, but it still explores the unknown in a most beautiful and fascinating manner while making characters relatable and real – and that is what makes it epic cinema.