The Lost City of Z - Blu-ray Review

Michael Scott

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Apr 4, 2017
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The Lost City of Z

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Movie: :3.5stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :1.5stars:
Final Score: :3.5stars:


Being a bit of a history buff, I knew OF Percy Fawcett, but really hadn’t paid much attention to his famous past besides a few chapters in my literature. When I heard that one of my favorite indie directors, James Gray (The Immigrant, and We Own the Night) was going to be making a film about the legendary explorer and his infamous disappearance into the Amazonian jungles, I was more than a bit intrigued. The Lost City of Z was only engaged in limited showings theatrically, so I sadly missed that chance, but I was more than eager to see how it faired on home video. I was gladdened to see that Broad Green Pictures had picked up the film, as that boded well for the quality considering the good track record that the indie production company has shown us so far. Upon viewing I have to say that I can see why the movie was given such high praise by film festivals and critics alike, and I can also see why it has some criticisms levied against it. The Lost City of Z is a massively impressive undertaking, straddling the line between art and a classic adventure film that hearkens back to a time over 30 years ago when a slow-paced movie like this was more commonplace.

Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) is incredibly famous for his passionate desire to track down a rumored lost city deep within the Amazon jungle over 100 years ago. Back in 1905 he was commissioned to lead a survey mission into the Amazon for the British crown, only to run across something much more important than a few map points. Percy found evidence of a previously unknown civilization hidden deep within the jungle. Upon arriving back in England he formed a bigger expedition, along with British “mountain man” Henry Costin (a near unrecognizable Rob Pattinson), and ventures back out time and time again searching for this lost city he calls “Zed”. However, it’s not so easy as he thought. Each trip out into the Amazon brings him new clues, and new discoveries, but there seems to be no real EVIDENCE that his lost city actually exists. Percy has spent almost 20 years away from his loving wife Nina (Sienna Miller) with nothing to show for it, but a wife who desperately wants him home, and children who barely know their father.

It seems that Percy is going to fail at finding his lost city when a war breaks out and he is forced back into active duty, wounding him heavily in the process. But the wanderlust bug never fails to emerge once again in the explorer, and this time it’s from an unsuspecting source. His estranged son Jack (Tom Holland) begs to go along with him for one more exploration mission and finally realize his father’s dream. While this may be a spoiler for some, the historical records for the real-life Percy Fawcett let us know that this will be his final expedition, as both Percy and Jack vanish into the Amazon jungles, never to be heard from again.
I did say that I had some VERY high hopes about The Lost city of Z before watching the disc. James Gray has made some incredible films, with The Immigrant being my favorite out of his collected works. The man knows how to pace a movie impeccably, keeping it very slowly paced with an uncanny knack for sucking the viewer in even though very little “excitement” occurs in his films. The Lost City of Z follows that pattern, giving us a 2 and a half hour adventure movie that moves along at a very languid pace. Being that history has already let us in on the ending, we know that Percy never will find his life’s dream, and it wasn’t till a few years ago that he finally became vindicated (geologists and archeologists found an entire network or roads and demolished cities deep within the Amazon jungle, all which coincide with Percy’s general location for the lost city). With that being said, Gray makes a fascinating film based off of the novel by David Grann.

The first act of the film is a bit slow to start, but once it gets going and the men get underway on the survey expedition it really picks up. Pattinson and Hunnam do an excellent job with their respective roles, especially Pattinson (who is nearly unrecognizable in the role). Hunnam is not exactly what I would call a great actor, but he does a good job at being the calm and steadfast explorer. Sienna Miller is lovely as his adoring wife, but I have to say that Rob Pattinson stole the show. Most people think of him as typecast due to Twilight (a movie that he was HORRIBLE in), but the man can really act if given the proper direction. Luckily Gray knows how to direct his actors and Pattinson’s quiet and calm demeanor just allows him to absorb himself into the role of Henry Costin so much that unless you knew it was Rob, you’d never know.

There ARE a few problems, and those mainly come in the film’s final act. While we know that Percy and Jack are going to be lost in the Amazon jungles, the movie just stretches out TOOOOOO long. After the final expedition with Lord Murray (Angus Macfadyen) and the war starts, things start to slow down to an inexorable crawl, and you’re left wondering just when we’re going to get back to the good stuff. I know that Gray was taking material from the novel and adapting it, but the movie went on about 25 minutes too long in my opinion. A problem that ends up creating a good movie instead of a truly great one.


Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, brief strong language and some nudity

Video: :4stars:
I was surprised to find out that The Lost City of Z was actually filmed on 35mm FILM instead of digital cameras, and then given a full 4K master (which makes me super sad as those criteria being met and NO 4K UHD is a crime) for the home video release. There is a distinct style of color grading going on here, with the period piece film given a very heavy green and yellow hue to it. This hue still shows of plenty of fine detail, ranging from the bead on Charlie’s face down to the little soft folds and curves in Nina’s flowing dresses. The jungle shots look INCREDIBLE, with rich jungle greens, and the soft blue of the river combined with muddy, earth banks. The one downside of the green/yellow color grading is that it gives the black levels a slightly washed out look, with some funky contrast levels. I can’t fault it too much as it’s VERY obviously intentional (there’s some more modern scenes near the end where the color grading is more natural to compare against), and the image itself is more than capable of giving us some very sharp looking images.

Audio: :4.5stars:
The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track for The Lost City of Z is near impeccable, with a high sense of immersion and fine sonic detail to it. There’s quite a bit of time spent with heavy dialog, so there IS a distinctly front heavy nature to those scenes, but there is also quite a bit of time spent in the Amazon jungle, and those areas really shine. You can hear the splashing of water in the background, or the little tink of a native spear piercing the wood, or even just the heavy breathing of the men as they argue. The surrounds are engaged at all times (even in the quieter moments, which did surprise me) and the amount of background ambient noises that bleed through is quite impressive. LFE is tight and clean, and there’s even a scene near the end of the movie that will really shake the walls. A very impressive track.

Extras: :1.5stars:
• Feature Film Commentary by Director James Gray
• Adventure In the Jungle
• From Novel to Screen
• Expedition Journal
• Trailers

Final Score: :3.5stars:

The Lost City of Z is not your typical modern adventure movie. In fact, I’d be more inclined to compare it against films from the 50s and 60s in its pacing tone. There’s a slowdown in the third act once the war starts, but overall the film is quite impressive and thoroughly engaging despite the minimalistic “action” (something that James Gray is very adept at in his films). I’ve personally been really impressed with most of Broad Green Pictures choices at releasing films (despite my dislike of modern Terrence Malick films), and The Lost City of Z was a great watch. The Blu-ray itself looks and sounds great, with my only REAL complaint being the very minimal number of extras on the disc. A film like this that is based off of a real-life explorer AND a bestselling book would have benefited greatly from a hefty set of special features. Recommended for a watch

Technical Specifications:

Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Rob Pattinson, Sienna Miller
Directed by: James Gary
Written by: James Gray (Screenplay), David Grann (Novel)
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish DTS 5.1
Studio: Broad Green Pictures
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 141 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: July 11th, 2017

Recommendation: Fun Watch

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