The Lost City of Z Meanders

The Lost City of Z opens at cinemas in South Africa on 11 August 2017. This true-life drama details the life of British adventurer Percy Fawcett. Fawcett who worked for the British military and was a member of the Royal Geographic Society. He was sent to South America to draw up maps of the area and in the process became obsessed with finding out more about the region.

Fawcett did several trips to the Amazon (although the film shows only three) between 1906 and 1925, travelling each time with what appeared to be a very small crew, the last with his own son, Jack. Fawcett found evidence of what he believed to be an ancient civilization and its city (the City of Z). He exerted much energy trying to find it and in convincing the British of its existence. There was resistance from the latter, partly because it would mean them reassessing their belief in their own superiority.

The credits at the end of the film state that archaeological remains an unknown civilization have recently been found, seeming to back up the Fawcett story.

Fawcett is played by Charlie Hunnam (a less hunky version of the part he played in King Arthur) and his wife Nina by Sienna Miller. Miller’s character is developed and realistic and contrasts to some extent with those of Fawcett’s team mates and colleagues. The latter remain undeveloped and distant so that the viewer will find it hard to care about them. The film attempts to condense several decades into two hours and 20 minutes and doesn’t feature much of a climax. The result is a far too long, meandering story with little character advancement.

Fawcett is shown as a man ahead of his time, one who goes against the established view of women and ‘the other’ as less than the British White male. I felt this was added on for a modern audience. The website www.historyvshollywood.com has a similar view.

The Lost City of Z opens at cinemas in South Africa on 11 August 2017.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

In the latest film version of Spider-Man the superhero is mentored by Iron Man and battles Vulture using a mixture of a specially designed suit and human integrity. This mixture of the ‘super’ and the ‘human’ flows throughout the film. Spider-Man is a geeky teenage boy, Peter Parker (Tom Holland), who has an even more geeky friend, Ned (Jacob Batalon). Iron Man has another life as a businessman called Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr), while Vulture also has an ulterior, human, identity as Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton).

Superman: Homecoming by Bleeding Cool

The relationship between Stark and Parker is handled with humour, and Parker’s efforts as a superhero feature enthusiasm coupled with inexperience. The result is a much lighter handling of the normally dark Spider-Man stories. I welcomed this. Families, too, with children and young teenagers will enjoy the more relatable characters. Modern-day special effects such as cell phones and computer technology are juxtaposed with other-world weaponry and this, too, emphasises the mix of human and super.

But the humour and action does border on the slapstick and I didn’t always enjoy the silliness. Robert Downey Jr and Michael Keaton are pretty good in their roles but Marissa Tomei as Peter’s aunt looks decidedly too sexy for her role and Peter’s flame, Liz (Laura Harrier), is wimpish.

Overall, Peter’s initiation as Spider-Man, and the mix of ordinary, modern-day life with the heroic, make Spider-Man: Homecoming fun to watch. The film opens at cinemas in South Africa on 7 July 2017.