By “Cinema” Dave
The recent release of Kong: Skull Island reactivated my love of all stories related to jungle adventure. With Adventurers in Charity IV [in Disney World] not set until the end of September, the only local avenue left for this Adventurer will be a pilgrimage to Mai Kai restaurant this summer and watching Indiana Jones movies. Released nearly 20 years ago, local author Rob MacGregor wrote four Indiana Jones novels about the intrepid archeologist. The third book, Indiana Jones and the Seven Veils was set in South America and was inspired by British Explorer, Percy Fawcett, who is the focus of a new movie that opens on the big screen tomorrow, The Lost City of Z.
At the turn of the 20th Century, Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam), having served in the British Military, is recruited by the Royal Geographical Society for his skills in cartography. With his sidekick Henry Costin (Robert Pattinson) and a team of explorers, the expedition travels through the Amazon River to find the source. Along the way, the expedition encounters piranhas, hostile natives and opera. When they find the source of the river, Fawcett finds archeological artifacts of a lost civilization.
Upon their return to London to report to the Royal Geographical Society, Fawcett and his explorers are met with skepticism. After a contentious assembly, the society finances a return expedition with explorers who served under Sir Ernest Shackleton’s antarctic expedition. When the frost of the British Reserve melts under the jungle heat, madness ensues.
The Lost City of Z is one story from the turn of the century age of exploration, in which lost worlds were being found, documented and mapped. The timeline covers the two decades in the early 20th Century and one sees how technology is advanced by the influence of a world war. Told in approximately two hours, this epic story about the adventures of this explorer does not feel rushed.
This film is also a family drama and Fawcett’s domestic life is handled with equal importance. During her husband’s adventures, Nina Fawcett (Sienna Miller) stayed in London and raised three children. It is obvious that this husband and wife love each other, despite their squabbles between his time-consuming adventures. These domestic scenes retain the same emotional resonance as rugged scenes of World War I and the jungle culture.
As Fawcett, Hunnam cements his acting credentials as a box office leading man, especially given his recent work on Sons of Anarchy, Pacific Rim and Crimson Peak. Best known from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and as a leading man in the Twilight vampire movies, Pattinson provides a dignified, quiet performance as Fawcett’s sidekick. While retaining a stiff upper lip and retaining a heart of gold, Miller symbolizes the domestic expectations of a woman of the British Empire.
The casting of actors from other action/adventure genres, such as Ian McDiarmid (Star Wars), Angus Macfadyen (Braveheart) and Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming) already gives The Lost City of Z a critical footnote in cinema. However, the film stands on its own as a quiet adventure film, minus expensive computer-enhanced special effects.