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The Lost City of Z

Cover Media logo Cover Media 30/03/2017

This adaptation of David Grann's 2009 non-fiction book has been in development for years, with Brad Pitt and Benedict Cumberbatch both at one time attached to play British explorer Colonel Percy Fawcett, with Hunnam stepping in after Cumberbatch dropped out due to scheduling conflicts.

Hunnam's character is asked to leave his wife Nina (Sienna Miller) and son Jack to accompany a geographical mission to Bolivia to help them map the area along with fellow army officers Henry Costin (Robert Pattinson) and Arthur Manley (Edward Ashley), among others. While there, he finds what he believes to be evidence of a lost city.

Back in the U.K. his findings are scoffed at by the Royal Geographical Society, so he goes on another mission with his comrades and James Murray (Angus Macfadyden) who becomes a liability, resulting in the expedition being called off.

Fawcett's pursuit takes a back seat when he is called to serve in the war and is injured, but his son Jack (now played by Tom Holland) encourages his dad to pursue his dream and bring him along, so they leave Nina and two other children.

In real life, the pair disappeared in the Amazon in 1925 and their failure to return has never been explained. Due to the very nature of this real-life story, there is no clear cut ending because nobody knows what happened, so it is left vague and ambiguous, which is unsatisfying to the viewer after investing in Fawcett's pursuit for 140 minutes.

The majority of the movie is fascinating and the jungle expeditions were completely gripping and beautifully shot, but the U.K. scenes slowed the pace and the war section derailed the excitement. These could have been substantially cut to make the film tighter and keep the audience's attention throughout the final mission, because by that point, the film had gone on too long at a slow pace that the energy had waned and the end was a welcome prospect.

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Hunnam does a fine job, but probably not as well as Cumberbatch could have done, and Pattinson was unrecognisable as the bearded and serious Costin. Miller and Holland both put in worthy performances in small parts.

The real-life story is extremely interesting and it is portrayed well by director James Gray for two-thirds of the movie, it is just a shame the final third lets it down.

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