The Lost City Review

Let’s talk about The Lost City.

What makes for an ideal date movie? I ask because of a complete and utter lack of experience with the subject. But it is also an interesting question. A date movie needs to be a people pleaser that has enough about it to be entertaining but not be ambitious enough where it can split the movie down the middle. It should also not become a think piece on euthanasia, though that should have gone without saying. It’s a surprisingly tricky thing to pull off and when romcoms died a death for being the same film every time, not much came out deliberately aimed at two people just looking for a nice film to watch together. But it does look like The Lost City is going to try and be that movie.

Loretta is an adventure romance novelist who promoting her new book. However she is kidnapped by a sinister billionaire who believes she will help him find an ancient but lost treasure. Her cover model Alan sets off to rescue her from the tropical island she has been trapped on.

Earlier on in the year, we got Uncharted which felt like Hollywood trying to do a new version of Indiana Jones. So it’s rather fitting that we now get the modern version of Romancing the Stone. I mean seriously, this is a film about a romance novelist out in the jungle trying to find a mythical treasure alongside a very handsome man. The comparisons make themselves. Though while the film invites you compare the two, it is also a bit unfair. Romancing the Stone is seen as a bit of a classic nowadays and its two leads Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner are screen legends. And as much as I think Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum are very good and funny actors, they can’t really match up to them. That said, Brad Pitt probably can and his character is definitely inspired by Jack Colton. He’s also very entertaining for the brief amount of time he’s on screen.

To the film’s credit, it definitely knows that people are going to be thinking of Romancing the Stone when watching it. And so it decides to play with some of those expectations. While Romancing the Stone is beloved, it doesn’t exactly bust any stereotypes. Michael Douglas is the big strapping adventure hero and Kathleen Turner spends most of the movie screaming and getting into some sort of trouble she needs rescuing from. This movie seems like it’s going to be like that to begin with as Sandra Bullock’s Loretta is kidnapped with Channing Tatum’s Alan then enlisting Brad Pitt’s Jack so they can rescue them off this island where the treasure is. But the film slowly starts turning that on it’s head. Loretta was a historian before she was a romance novelist and so it’s her who can work out where the treasure is and just about how to survive in the jungle. And while Alan is well meaning, he is a bit hopeless at the whole rescuing thing. The movie gets a few funny moments out of this but what I appreciate most is that while the film does this, it doesn’t usually make an obvious point of it. It just gets on with it and is funny with it when the opportunity arises.

And the film is very pleasantly funny. I can’t give you one of those quotes destine for a poster like ‘it’s a laugh filled adventure’ because it’s definitely not that. Having been in a cinema with a decent sized crowd watching the movie, there isn’t too many moments where it generates genuine laugh out loud moments. But that doesn’t mean the film isn’t funny. It’s not laugh out loud but it definitely makes you do that thing where you breath heavily through your nose. So the thing you do that’s enough for you to send ‘lol’ back to the friend which sent you the meme. Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum have a good amount of chemistry together and the script handed to them gives them enough to have some sparks together. It’s a nice mixture of some witty dialogue, fairly creative set pieces which are made to be a bit awkward but funny and then some touching moments when the film needs to slow down a bit. It also has Daniel Radcliffe just chewing as much scenery as the most dastardly villain he can be. With him and Jim Carrey’s Robotnik in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, it does feel like we’re seeing a return of delightfully evil villains with no redeemable backstory.

If we can switch the comparisons from Romancing the Stone back to Uncharted, it interestingly has the same flaws. This is a rather predictable movie. You can see what’s going to happen from the moment it sets up all the pieces. Loretta wants to stay at home all the time and also when we see her meet up with Alan, it turns out that she doesn’t really like him and also kind of looks down on him. So yeah, it doesn’t take a film scholar to work out the various story beats that are coming. It’s easy to say the reason films like this fell by the wayside for so long because they have a predictable ending but let’s be honest, we all know what we want from it so they’d be daft to change that up. The problem is that every part of the plot is the same and predictable as it is here. This is a route we have travelled many times and the film suffers for not differing at any point. I also want to moan here about the fact this film has the most generic name of all time.

Despite being very predictable, The Lost City is still a likable movie. It rides on the charisma on its stars Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum but that isn’t a bad thing when your main stars are Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum. They work very well together and we get something pretty fun out of it. In fact, it does end up being a pretty ideal date movie due to a combination of humour, action and romance. Of course, it won’t really match up to Romancing the Stone. But if you need something that is from the same wheelhouse, The Lost City isn’t a bad choice.

Former Head of Movies for Screen Critics. Film Reviews now hosted on Medium.

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A Guy Who Talks About Movies

A Guy Who Talks About Movies

Former Head of Movies for Screen Critics. Film Reviews now hosted on Medium.

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