I have a confession to make. I once had a very big crush on the guy who plays the titular character in this year’s The Lost City. That would be Robert Pattinson. I mean, who isn’t enamored with the Twilight star? He’s been in a few good films, including one of the most iconic of all time, What If? The answer is probably not what you’re thinking. Let’s examine the evidence shall we?
There’s no denying that The Lost City is a bit of a mess. It’s an adaptation of the J.R.R. Tolkien classic, The Hobbit, and it features some questionable editing. The good news is that the movie’s greatest sin is also its greatest strength. The editing is so erratic that it often feels more like a collection of short stories than a cohesive narrative. The Lost City is all the more effective because of its disjointedness. It’s a bit like the best of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. You know what I’m talking about – every story is self-contained but you never know quite what is going to happen next. It’s like being handed a box of Crackle Jacks and told to write a captions for each one using only 5 letters. You’d eventually end up with something like:
That’s pretty much what The Lost City is. It wants to be a wide-ranging collection of little stories, and it mostly succeeds.
The Lost City’s biggest flaw is that it doesn’t hold up well as a standalone film. You genuinely need to have seen the previous two Hobbit films to understand what is going on in this one. Otherwise you’ll probably be a bit confused at times. The first film, An Unexpected Journey, set the stage for the events that follow. The second film, The Desolation of Smaug, picks up immediately after the ending of the first one. Unless you’ve seen those movies already, there will probably be entire passages that don’t make much sense. For example, at one point in the film it is explained that Smaug the dragon is looking for a new lair, and the narrative jumps immediately to a scene where he is foundering in the seaside caves with his two riders. They seem to be having a pretty good time as they battle a giant bird and a hulking bear – but maybe that wasn’t the point? Again, without having seen the other two films, it’s hard to say for sure.
All of this brings me to my next point. If you’re going to adapt The Hobbit, the least you could do is get it right. The Lost City does contain some interesting details, like some scenes being set in Mordor or Rivendell, two of Tolkien’s other worlds, and there are some cool battle sequences. I also like how they put a bit of a modern twist on the character of Smaug. It isn’t just about defeating his foes, it’s about taunting them. That’s something we’ve never really seen before in a big-budget Hollywood production.
Making Sense Of It All
Whether or not you’ve seen the other two Hobbit films, there’s still plenty to enjoy in The Lost City. It’s not a perfect adaptation by any means, but it still has enough good material to draw you in. Don’t get me wrong, there are parts that are absolutely ridiculous. Some of the casting is also questionable. There are some genuinely creepy moments that verge on being abusive. It doesn’t help that certain scenes in the film don’t make much sense. This is by no means a spoiler-free review, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet, buckle up. It contains enough plot twists and unanswered questions to keep you busy for quite some time.
The biggest problem with The Lost City is that despite being a bit of a mess, it’s actually not that bad. If you didn’t see the other Hobbit films, there’ll probably be plenty for you to catch up on. It’s a valiant effort, and I’m sure that even Tolkien himself would have to admit that it isn’t that terrible. I also don’t want to come across like I’m doing his movie any favor by saying this, but it’s hard for me to imagine anyone taking the hobbit author’s original work seriously these days. It’s not like anyone involved actually gave a shit about getting it right. Hopefully someone will see this film and the numerous cut-out photos on my Instagram and realize that this was supposed to be a parody. I’ve always fancied that I had a bit of a dark sense of humor, but I guess I’ve been fooling people all along. Oops!