I had a hard time grading The Lost City of Z, James Gray’s directorial dedication to the legendary British explorer Percy Fawcett of the early 20th century. On one hand, this is an extremely well made movie in every technical aspect and performance. It has all the organic, pristine ingredients that you would want in a healthy feast. The 140-minute epic splits time between Fawcett’s explorations deep into the heart of Amazonia and his experiences back in the UK, assimilating to family life in between adventures. The scenes filmed in the jungle, fueled by Fawcett’s obsession with finding a rumored ancient city, are particularly striking and will definitely remind you of Apocalypse Now (sidenote: In preparation for filming in the Colombian jungle, Gray reached out to Francis Ford Coppola to see if he had any tips. Ford’s response was simply “Don’t go.”). As Fawcett, Charlie Hunnam proves he has more range than the exasperated biker he showed in seven years on Sons of Anarchy and an even bigger revelation is that former vampthrob Robert Pattison might be one of the weirder (in a good way) character actors working today.
On the other hand, I had more fun researching how they shot Lost City of Z than I did actually watching it. It’s at least 30 minutes too long and I tended to check my watch during each of the scenes in which Fawcett and an elderly British man are in a room arguing intensely…but with manners. The time spent across the pond overall is just a little too Masterpiece Theater for my Michael Bay tastes. Sometimes a movie like John Wick 2, a Big Mac with ingredients you know are bad for you, is a lot more satisfying than a gourmet burger like Lost City of Z. Grade: C