The Lost City of Z Blu-ray Review
Moviegoers who grew in the 50’s and 60’s would feel nostalgic watching THE LOST CITY OF Z. It’s a classic adventure that goes deep into the jungles of the Amazon and takes time to go back to the high society of Britain, while at the same time squeezing in WWI. While it’s based on an actual event, it’s hard not to feel like it’s an homage to films like KING SOLOMON’S MINES and KILLERS OF KILIMANJARO.
However, I have to admit, I haven’t seen those movies, but just because I haven’t seen them doesn’t mean I know that they’re treasured. I also know that the same script formula is pulsating through THE LOST CITY OF Z’s script. Charlie Hunnan, who’s most well-known for his role as a grizzled biker on SONS OF ANACHARY, is the charismatic, yet reserved British explorer, Percival Fawcett. He’s sent to South America to help settle a land dispute between Bolivia and Brazil. While surveying the lush jungle, he becomes entranced by the tale of a city of gold.
Helping Fawcett follow this pipedream through is Corporal Henry Costin (Pattinson), biologist James Murray (Angus Macfadyen) and others. This isn’t a simple journey though because of the difficulty of trekking through unexplored and harsh terrain. Their expeditions dissolve because of the threats of local indigenous people and the lack of funding by Costin’s cohorts back in England. Despite the numerous failures, Costin’s passion and determination never falter.
THE LOST CITY OF Z is by no means a short movie, clocking in at nearly two and a half hours, but it’s surprisingly rarely boring. Films like this would require majestic shots and sometimes bombastic action sequences, but a lot of the film is subdued. That reluctance to become pure pulp makes it intriguing as Fawcett’s journey is more emotional than action-packed. While his search is noble, it comes at the cost of his family back home, as well as the loss of some of his friends who join him.
Hunnam dives deep into his acting abilities to bring in the viewer every time he’s on screen, saying more in his empty stares, but conveying less in his booming speeches to stuffy noblemen back home. The time jumps and Fawcett’s failures help ground the movie into a historical reality, notifying the audience at nearly every turn that there may be no victory for Fawcett’s endeavor. Such honesty kills excitement, but stimulates the brain cells that yearn for that rich story in the underbrush.
It’s difficult to recommend THE LOST CITY OF Z because of how boring the film can come across as, especially with its running time and lack of heart racing action. For cinephiles, or lovers of movies that rerun on Turner Classic Movies, it’s sure to be something that’ll be applauded, if not given a congratulatory pat on the back for avoiding CGI runs through the jungle and slow motion heroism. It’s a rejuvenation of how films of old were done and for young bucks like me, it’s admirable.
Video: (1080p HD Widescreen 2:39:1) The film is gorgeous and it comes through clearly on this blu-ray.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The audio levels are perfectly balanced, blending in dialogue with the ambience of a lively jungle.
Feature Film Commentary by Director James Gray: Even at nearly two and a half hours, James Gray rarely runs out things to talk about. While I’m still not a fan of the solo commentary, there are various moments of great and personal insight that elevates my appreciation of the movie to another level. As the movie wears on, he does hit some rough patches, but overall he offers commentary that excels way beyond what it should have been.
Adventure in the Jungle (2:21): This short feature offers no interesting insight or commentary on the film. It feels more like a promotional item than an actual expansion of the viewer’s knowledge on the making of this film.
From Novel to Screen (3:10): I wish this feature was a lot longer because I would have loved to learn more about the source material for Gray’s sprawling epic.
Expedition Journal: A photo gallery that’s considerably lacking.