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The Lost City | Welcome to the Jungle – Review

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Globe-trotting adventures feel like as much of a rarity as erotic thrillers — thank God for Deep Water — and yet we’ve gotten Uncharted and The Lost City in less than two months. While those two films do share some similarities, being that they riff off of Indiana Jones-type adventure flicks, the former was based on a popular video game franchise while the latter is an original film about every writer’s biggest fear: Writer’s block. While this 110-minute adventure sails due to its leads and self-awareness, it’s dragged down by far too many lulls past the first 30 minutes. For as fun as The Lost City can be, almost comparable to cotton candy, it’s equally forgettable. I will be amazed if anyone can name the crown that Daniel Radcliffe is pursuing in this film any longer than five minutes after watching the film.

Loretta Stage (Sandra Bullock) is a best-selling author who writes the type of romance-adventure novels that your mom likely looked at in Barnes and Nobles. Like George R. R. Martin, Loretta has hit a bit of trouble when trying to write a satisfying ending to her 20-book series; spending her days locked in her house with enough champagne to fill a bathtub. Once she magically finds the inspiration to finish the book, titled The Lost City of D, she embarks on a book tour to promote it where she is kidnapped a la Taken by billionaire Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe) who believes the lost city from Loretta’s books is real. Loretta’s cover model, Alan (or Dash), steps up to the plate to save Loretta and prove that you should never judge a book by its cover (very clever).

You can’t say that The Lost City doesn’t hit the ground running. Within 10 minutes Loretta is on her book tour, another 10 goes by and she’s kidnapped and we have our adventure. Brad Pitt shows up to be sexy and kick ass not even another 10 minutes after this. The opening act of The Lost City absolutely bops and draws you in hook, line, and sinker. What proceeds, however, is a choppy mess that is a mixed bag of some great moments between the two leads and a story so generic that the story, unlike The Lost City of D for much of its time in production, writes itself.

Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum star in Paramount Pictures’ THE LOST CITY.

Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum make for a pair of two people that you would never imagine having any chemistry if they were paired up together, yet they kill it. The Lost City is almost entirely dependent on the two, and both of their characters are so far out of their elements in the film that you can’t help but chuckle when Loretta mentions her sequin tracksuit being a rental or Dash slapping an already-unconscious body after Brad Pitt knocks the person out. Both Loretta and Dash have a desire to prove themselves as more than they appear: Loretta wants to find fulfillment in something at this stage in her life while Dash wants to be seen as more than a pretty face; he’s reminded on numerous occasions that their situation of peril is not one requiring his shirt being ripped off.

Tatum is an actor whose career feels underappreciated. My generation may know him from G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra, others may know him from Magic Mike or the Jump Street reboot, but when Loretta calls Dash on his bullshit while reciting his whole life story, it felt like a self-aware joke about Tatum’s actual story. Loretta says that Dash “got by on good looks,” “coasted through school,” and “moved to LA but realized being the most handsome man doesn’t make you a leading man.” Unfortunately, this sentiment rings true for many in Hollywood, and it does make Tom Holland, who has star power if nothing else. Long gone are the days of movie stars putting butts in seats, it feels like everything is about franchises (something Tatum would know).

Sandra Bullock and Daniel Radcliff star in Paramount Pictures’ THE LOST CITY.

Daniel Radcliffe plays the rich son that is out to prove himself against his siblings and parental figures trope that Antonio Banderas just played in Uncharted; though there’s a lot less slicing of throats in The Lost City. Nonetheless, Radcliffe chews up a lot of scenery when he’s on-screen. Mind you, there is no disappearing spell in play here, maybe it’s due to COVID restrictions, but Fairfax just disappears after the first 30 minutes. There’s a scene here and there of him reacting to a given situation, but he’s really not present until the last act. Maybe this was a conscious effort to focus the film on Bullock and Tatum, but when the antagonist, who is in high pursuit of these two, is just nowhere to be found, it’s weird.

Fairfax’s goons are about as insignificant as he is throughout the film, but you have to applaud the effort to find a “Jason Statham type” with Thomas Forbes-Johnson’s heavy who looks like Dr. Robotnik and sounds like Jason Statham.

Speaking of weird, all of the rage on Twitter is how Spider-Man: No Way Home used a soundstage and greenscreen in almost every scene. The Lost City won’t cross $1 billion, so not as many eyes will see it, but the same could be said here. Yes, the $74 million budget is like pocket change for a blockbuster like No Way Home, but it feels painfully obvious that Bullock and Tatum spend most of their time on soundstages in the film. It takes away any sort of suspension of disbelief that you may have while watching. Hell, the third act looks like it takes place in the same cave as Uncharted‘s while swapping the pirate ships for a tomb.

The PG-13 rating was completely unbeknownst to me upon writing this review. It’s certainly not surprising considering Sanda Bullock mutters “cheese and rice” enough times that you’ll quickly realize it’s unironic. It would also explain why both Bullock and Tatum are used as PG-13 eye candy including one fully-nude butt. It’s not like the rating changes my perception of the film as a whole, but it certainly would have explained some of the flat jokes and awkward dialogue that sounded like a teenager making his first raunchy jokes. A lot of the jokes are very low-hanging fruit; take Loretta’s book being titled The Lost City of D, for example. I know I can’t be the only one who rolled their eyes when someone said the “D” stands for “dick.”

More than anything, it’s a shame that The Lost City had to spoil its own biggest cameo/moment in the trailers. It did lead to some misdirection — as Pitt’s character doesn’t come off like more than a glorified cameo, even in the trailers — but I remember thinking to myself that the film was either moving way too fast early on or it was 80 minutes long. This leads to the top-heavy unbalance that the film has. It begins with such highs that nothing after these moments tops itself.

The Lost City harkens back to the days when sexy leads can carry a film with very little substance and make a ton of money on a small-to-mid budget. With The Batman still legging out, will The Lost City make gangbusters? Probably not, but the mid-budget rom-com starring Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, Daniel Radcliffe, and Brad Pitt certainly could be the “little engine that could.” As for the film itself, no one will watch the film for its plot; even despite the fact that it’s the closest thing to an old-school action rom-com of the past. So with that said, it’s a mindless fun time that does have some heart, specifically with Tatum’s character. What really needs to happen to take this franchise to the next level is Sony and Paramount working together to combine the Uncharted and Lost City franchises.

Paramount will release The Lost City in theaters on March 25.

FILM RATING

Andrew is an entertainment journalist and film "critic" who has written for the likes of Above the Line, Below the Line, Collider, Film Focus Online, /Film and The Hollywood Handle among others. Leader of the Kaitlyn Dever Fanclub.

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Adventure

Arthur the King is an Epic Masterpiece

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Arthur the King movie poster (Lionsgate Films)

Here follows the review of Arthur the King, a story of deep connection between people and dogs. Not all heroes wear capes, some have wagging tails and would cross a river (and jungle) for you.

Plot

Desperate for one last chance to win, Michael Light convinces a sponsor to back him and a team of athletes for the Adventure Racing World Championship in the Dominican Republic. As the team gets pushed to the outer limits of endurance, a dog named Arthur comes along for the ride, redefining what victory, loyalty and friendship truly means.

Arthur Foundation

Mikael Lindnord raced through a jungle in Ecuador and after feeding a few meatballs to a stray dog made a friend for life. The dog followed Mikael and his team through the rough terrain. Mikael named the dog Arthur and took him back home with him.

Arthur and Mikael Lindnord (Photo taken by Krister Goransson)

The Arthur Foundation collaborates with various organizations in different countries that work towards animal welfare.

Click on the following links to reach out to Mikael Lindnord.

Movie Review (no spoilers)

The movie is based on the memoir, Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home by Mikael Lindnord, who was the athlete who participated in the Adventure Racing World Championship in Ecuador. It is important to note in the movie they refer to him as Michael Light. Even though the original race took place in Ecuador, the movie changed the location to the Dominican Republic. The original race took place in 2014, while in the movie the race takes place in 2018.

Mark Wahlberg portrays the part of the Mikael and delivers an excellent performance alongside Simu Liu, Nathalie Emmanuel and Ali Suliman. Ukai, a stray dog, was a real champion portraying the role of Arthur. The film takes us through picturesque locations in the Dominican Republic. The suspense was felt at every turn and corner and you are kept glued to the screen with a gripping storyline. The story balances the journey of Mikael and Arthur and eventually joins their path like a jigsaw puzzle.

Mark Wahlberg as Mikael Light (Lionsgate Films)

A fictional backstory is provided of Mikael’s competitive journey as well as the journey that Arthur took to get to Mikael. The movie successfully tells a deep story of connection between dogs and people. If you want to know more about the real story, you can check your local bookstore or Amazon for a copy of Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home

This movie is a 5 out of 5 for me. The connection between Mikael and Arthur is brought to life in this epic masterpiece. Arthur found a home in the heart of Mikael and thanks to Mark Wahlberg and Ukai, this film adaptation of ‘Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home’ became a memorable movie.

The trailer doesn’t spoil any of the important scenes of the movie. Arthur the King has a runtime of 1 hour and 30 minutes. There is no post-credits scene so no need to wait till the end.

Arthur the King Official Trailer (Lionsgate Films)

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Entertainment

A Must-See Satanic Panic Horror – Late Night With the Devil

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Written and directed by Cameron Cairnes & Colin Cairnes, Late Night With the Devil follows a late night TV host Jack Delroy, fighting the plummeting viewership of his show by welcoming in people from the occult in order to change that, but of course, everything doesn’t go as smooth as planned.

David Dastmalchian as Jack Delroy Late Night With the Devil (2023)

David Dastmalchian has appeared in a lot of films however always in smaller roles including The Dark Knight, Prisoners and more recently The Suicide Squad. This film allows Dastmalchian to take on the lead role of Jack Delroy, the host of the late night show at the centre of this film, and he genuinely does a great job. There’s a real range of emotions which his character goes through during the course of this film and he depicts them so well.

If you’re a fan of the horror genre, you’re going to really appreciate the use of practical effects in this. There’s plenty of stretchy and gooey gore for all of the horror fanatics that will have you shouting at the screen. 

From left to right: Laura Gordon, Ingrid Torelli, David Dastmalchian, Ian Bliss

If you want to hear my full thoughts, check out my review over on YouTube and let me know your opinions in the comments.

Late Night With the Devil will be released in cinemas from 22nd March and on Shudder on 19th April.

FILM RATING
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Reviews

‘I Love You, Guys’ Review | A Poignant Exploration of Celebrity Vulnerability and Human Resilience

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We are living in an era where celebrities are worshipped like deities and sometimes, people forget that he or she is also a normal human being. If we feel happy or sad at certain moments, they do as well and even though a lot of people always surround them, they get vulnerable too. Although a lot of filmmakers forget to show that aspect of their lives, Billie Melissa Rogan takes the bold approach of showing the truth. Her directorial debut, ‘I Love You, Guys,’ is a poignant story about a celebrity fighting her inner self to maintain her celebrity image. The result is a stunning piece of art that resonates long after the end credits roll in.

The short film opens with a profound close-up of the young singing sensation named Sky (Becky Bush). She has made a name for herself by making and singing really exceptional songs. As a result, she is adored by her fans. Even though it feels like Sky has everything she wants, viewers see her submerged in a bathtub as she tries to battle her anxiety. Just then, Sky gets a phone that she’d be performing state-side. Now, that’s where we get to know about her vulnerable state for the first time. Although she says that she is really happy with the above-mentioned news, her face tells a different story. Despite her impending stardom, Sky has not started to feel the massive weight of mounting pressure, a sentiment audiences get to see in her conversations with bandmate Ryan (Pedro Leandro) and girlfriend Taylor (Celi Crossland).

Becky Bush in a still from ‘I Love You, Guys’ (Jumpcut Studios)

As the story moves forward, we get to know that ‘I Love You, Guys’ is about the fragile nature of the human spirit as much as it is about celebrity culture. It not only navigates themes of depression, it also highlights the turbulent emotional journey of Sky. One of the best aspects of the film is how Rogan masterfully brings Cory Varney’s screenplay to life. She managed to capture every minor detail of Sky’s emotions with utmost precision. Despite the fact that it is her first-ever film as a director, we get a sense that we are watching a flick helmed by a seasoned filmmaker.

Another aspect that makes this film such a compelling watch is its cinematography. Jenni Suitiala has done a phenomenal in showing expressions through vibrant colors and Rogan has made full use of the settings to give viewers a visually striking film. Whether it is heated arguments or silent moments of despair, each frame feels authentic and draws audiences into Sky’s personal life.

Apart from Rogan’s direction, Varney’s script is this film’s biggest strength. The writer has undoubtedly done a stunning job of showing the humanity of these characters. There’s a reason why Sky’s struggles feel very personal and it is because we have endured such moments in life. Moments where we doubt ourselves even when we know we are more than capable of doing a particular thing. Not every smiling person is happy. Sometimes he or she is smiling just so that no one finds out about the tough times they are going through.

A still from ‘I Love You, Guys’ (Jumpcut Studios)

Acting-wise, Becky Bush has given a performance that is surely going to open several doors for her. She delivers a magnificent performance by infusing Sky with a beautiful balance of vulnerability and strength. The way she manages to convey an innumerable amount of emotions is spectacular. I believe this is one of the most apt depictions of mental turmoil. Meanwhile, Pedro Leandro and Celi Crossland are just as spectacular. Every interaction between the characters feels genuine and nuanced.

All in all, ‘I Love You, Guys’ is a testament to how resilient a human spirit can be. In just 15 minutes, Rogan, Varney, and Bush take viewers on a journey that’s thought-provoking and talks about a subject that no one talks about. The writing, direction, and performances achieve a lot more than just viewers’ attention. The film offers a compelling examination of the human cost of pursuing fame and success. A poignant story that touches on themes of ambition, relationships, and self-discovery.

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