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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Lost City of Z is a a fact-based historical adventure/drama about the search for a lost Amazonian city. Originally rated R but edited to get a PG-13, the movie has sporadic but strong violence, including guns and shooting, bloody wounds, hunting sequences (with animals killed), arrows piercing a man's chest, fighting, and other iffy images. Topless women native to the Amazon are shown, and there's brief mild innuendo. Language includes "goddamn" and "bastard." Characters occasionally drink from flasks and smoke, and one character's father is described as a drinker and a gambler who ruined the family name. Even though it might come across as an exciting jungle adventure, the movie is slow, dense, and mature, and it's unlikely to excite many teens. Charlie Hunnam and Robert Pattinson co-star; the movie is based on the book by David Grann.
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What's the story?
In THE LOST CITY OF Z, which is based on a true story (covered in the non-fiction book by David Grann), Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) is military man who becomes interested in finding an ancient lost city hidden in the Amazon. Accompanied by Corporal Henry Costin (Robert Pattinson), Fawcett finds his first trip dangerous -- they face starvation, deadly natives, and vicious wildlife -- but it reveals significant clues. The second trip is hindered by the presence of James Murray (Angus Macfadyen), who's unequipped to handle the rigors of the jungle, uses up extra provisions, and endangers the mission. The third trip Fawcett makes with his son (Tom Holland), and the outcome is a mystery.
Is it any good?
James Gray makes intelligent, good-looking, grown-up movies that are admirable but somehow rather reserved; this real-life adventure tale is a more sprawling work, but the result is similar. Gray (We Own the Night, Two Lovers, The Immigrant) is steeped in the cinema of the 1970s, and The Lost City of Z feels more like Werner Herzog's Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) than it does Raiders of the Lost Ark. Yet it lacks Aguirre's madness; it's missing the kind of enthusiasm or obsession that might help drive a movie like this.
But there's no denying that it's expertly made. The Amazon footage is harrowing and realistic; you can feel the bugs buzzing around, as well as the supreme heat, humidity, and exhaustion. The images have a high-class, measured realism and complexity of character; no one here is merely a hero or a villain, not even Macfadyen's Murray, whose scenes are the film's most primal and emotional ones (you really want him to suffer for his crimes). This movie requires a little bit of thinking and involvement, but it's worth the effort.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about The Lost City of Z's violence. How much is shown vs. not shown? Which has more impact? Why? Does exposure to violent media make kids more aggressive?
How familiar were you with Percy Fawcett? What do you think really happened? Does the movie make you want to look into the story further?
What seems more important: a search for a lost city or spending time with your family? How does the movie answer this question?
The movie is deliberately more thoughtful and less exciting than an Indiana Jones-type adventure. Did you like it more or less?
- In theaters: April 14, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: July 11, 2017
- Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller
- Director: James Gray
- Studios: Bleecker Street, Amazon Studios
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Adventures, History
- Character strengths: Perseverance
- Run time: 141 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence, disturbing images, brief strong language and some nudity
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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