Saturday, 1 April 2017

The Lost City Of Z Film Review

I saw The Lost City of Z last week and thought it would be a kid's adventure movie with an Indiana Jones hero. But it was much more cerebral. A Boy's Own Story directed by James Gray. With a star studded cast that tells the story of true life explorer Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett. In the days when the British Empire still considered itself ruler of the waves.

Charlie Hunnam, star of Guillermo del Toro films Pacific Rim and Crimson Peak, plays Percy, a soldier stationed in Ireland and disappointed with his career and lack of distinction. Hampered by a family with skeletons in the closet, Percy is eventually offered a new posting with potential for glory. To map Amazonia for the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) and determine the boundary between Brazil and Bolivia. Two countries in dispute over the black gold that was rubber.

Long suffering pregnant wife Nina, played by Sienna Miller, dutifully follows Percy back to England and kisses him goodbye as he begins his uncertain future. Feeling watched onboard ship he tackles his follower who reveals himself to be his companion on the journey Henry Costin. Played by a bearded Robert Pattinson of Like Water for Elephants and the Twilight series. A capable man they become great friends during the hardship of the Amazon. Drawn by the sound of opera in the middle of the trek they meet Baron De Gondoriz. A rubber baron, played by Franco Nero, who offers them a native guide to take them up river. Rounding out their party with Arthur Manley, played by Last Tango in Halifax's Edward Ashley. Dangerously short of food the party finally finds the source of the river and Percy finds fragments of pottery. From a long ago civilisation. Could this be the Lost City Percy has heard about.

Back in London he is a huge success, Henry and Arthur with him to give a talk at the RGS. The men there are dismissive of Percy's claims that there is a lost city of gold from an ancient civilisation. Indians are savages and could not create something as great as this. But James Murray, one of Shackleton's men in Antarctica, and played by the great Angus Macfadyen believes him. And joins them for a second trip. Nina expresses a desire to come too but with two children now Percy will not hear of it. Even though it was she who discovered a letter from the Conquistadors who wrote of this city of gold.

Murray is a dismal traveller. When the group spend time with a tribe of cannibals he instead prefers to slink off by himself and eat the goodies packed by Nina for the whole party. When he suffers a fever and is slowing the party down Percy sends him off with a guide on their only horse to a settlement where he can recover. But beforehand this great explorer Murray has doused their food in petrol which means they cannot go any further on their quest.

Back home by now war has broken out and the three men fight together for King and country. But Percy's heart is still in the Amazon. It is his destiny. As well as the destiny of those closest to him. Eldest son Jack played by new Spiderman Tom Holland dreams of his own Amazon adventure. All of their lives caught up in the romance and mystery of the elusive City of Z.

A terrific fiction based on fact. As epic as A River Runs Through It. And a tantalising dream of an adventure just a little further up the river. And hidden deep within the jungle.

Interestingly Benedict Cumberbath was originally attached to the film as Percy, but I think Charlie was terrific as Percy.

A good solid action story of stiff upper lips with the desire to explore.

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