Movie Review: The Lost City

Romancing the Stone, Jewel of the Nile and Gleaming the Cube are quintessential ’80s movies that recall an age where girls just wanted to have fun and boys didn’t cry. Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner took the action-adventure romantic comedy world by storm with a rollicking movie about Joan Wilder, a romance novelist who must travel to Colombia to rescue her sister and protect a priceless treasure from criminals. Deemed yet another Raiders of the Lost Ark clone, the film’s feel-good entertainment and co-lead chemistry was good enough to spawn a fun sequel (unlike Christian Slater’s skateboarding flick) by transplanting the treasure-seekers in another continent with the follow-up, Jewel of the Nile.

The comparisons to whip-cracking legendary archaeology professor and part-time treasure hunter Indiana Jones may have been warranted in Romancing the Stone’s attempt to summon up the same action-adventure energy. Yet, it’s a bit unfair to compare the two side-by-side when you consider how Raiders of the Lost Ark was more geared to action-adventure as opposed to the focus on romance and cast chemistry in Romancing the Stone. Whatever your thoughts, it’s funny to see Romancing the Stone getting its own clone with The Lost City starring Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum.

The Lost City centres on romance novelist, Loretta Sage, whose ancient symbol research casts her headlong into an escapade involving a wealthy collector and her popular cover model in an adventure mimicking her latest and possibly last novel, ‘The Lost City of D’. Directed by the Nee brothers, the Romancing the Stone influence is evident but not overpowering, aiming for the high-spirited fun but adding a few absurd comedic tweaks and some decidedly cheeky humour.

Referred to as “America’s sweetheart” for her easy-going charms, Sandra Bullock is no stranger to the jungle adventure, having starred in Fire on the Amazon before she boarded the runaway bus in Speed. Now credited by Forbes as being an actress who has starred in films that have earned over $100 million over four decades, it’s easy to see how Bullock’s also made a number of most powerful actress lists over her career. Signing on as star and producer of The Lost City, this fun movie is goes for pure popcorn entertainment, leveraging star power over dramatic heft with a constrained performance.

The Lost City

“The jungle. It wants us. Bad.”

The casting of Channing Tatum as a romantic lead opposite Bullock is a curious choice on paper. Tatum has the physique and looks to pull off being one of those Mills & Boone “Fabio” type cover models but the pairing is unconventional and actually second choice to Ryan Reynolds. Sandra Bullock had surprisingly good chemistry with Reynolds in the romcom The Proposal as an awkward marriage proposal plays out between an editor facing deportation and her reluctant assistant. Mirroring this older woman, younger man relationship, Bullock finds an equally good measure of friction before establishing a breezy rapport with an even younger Tatum in The Lost City.

While noticeable, the age gap doesn’t seem to be as jarring as you’d expect against Bullock’s youthful looks. It’s always fun to watch the see-sawing romance blossom between the odd couple as Tatum’s sub-hero comedy simultaneously spoofs his can-do career and classic conventions. Casting Daniel Radcliffe as a villain, as in Now You See Me, is usually a surefire sign of the film’s intentions to entertain. A cult figure with considerable clout, he does his thing as an arrogant and obsessive man child.

If Radcliffe’s role wasn’t over-the-top enough, it’s Brad Pitt who stars as a hilarious former operative in a part that spoofs the Taken action-hero-in-later-life trend. A wink-wink supporting role, the action-orientated role shows Pitt’s up to the task, possibly there to field reactions. Oscar Nuñez chimes in with a small but comical supporting role opposite the very present Da’Vine Joy Randolph.

This fun name cast certainly spices things up enough to make The Lost City an entertaining romp. Just like Romancing the Stone could’ve starred Sylvester Stallone or Christopher Reeve, it would have been interesting to see The Lost City with Ryan Reynolds as an echo of The Proposal. Their presence is enough to elevate this action-adventure romantic comedy from the quicksand and it’s funny enough to avoid comparisons with the bland to oblivion, Red Notice. While similarly to Red Notice this movie has a great deal of visual effects to fill the backdrop, the balance of real vs. unreal in this hot jungle pursuit is good enough to get a pass. Never taking itself too seriously, The Lost City keeps a campy charm that smooths over its rough edges – constantly reminding you to just roll with it.

The Lost City is feel-good throwaway movie that features a solid cast, a modern spin on a nostalgic classic and a tonally complex spectrum of comedy. It’s the kind of silly summer popcorn fun that will amuse in the moment, giving you a giddy feeling but evaporating just as quickly. Happy to aim for the middle, this romcom jaunt does enough to serve as a lightweight distraction but pales even in comparison to so-called Raider of the Lost Ark clone, Romancing the Stone.

The bottom line: Fun

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