Tarzan

"Good"

Tarzan Review


Every time someone makes a "Tarzan" movie, they take wild libertieswith Edgar Rice Burroughs' text.

Burroughs' Tarzan didn't live in a treehouse with an elephant-operatedelevator, but Johnny Weissmuller's Tarzan did in one his campy 1930s classics(if that's the word). Burroughs didn't imagine any Tarzan erotic adventures,either, but John Derek cast his wife Bo as a nude, sexpot Jane in 1981.

Disney's new and visually magnificent animated "Tarzan"takes different kinds of liberties -- the kind necessary to create a kid-friendlymovie (minimal violence; cute, wise-cracking sidekicks; et al). But withthe freedom allowed by the animation medium, in this movie Tarzan himselfmay be the most authentic vision of the character to date. This is a Tarzanunlimited by what human actors are capable of physically, and in termsof authenticity it makes all the difference in the world.

As envisioned by Burroughs and brought to life by leadanimator Glen Keane and directors Kevin Lima and Chris Buck he moves likean animal, low to the ground, resting on his under-turned knuckles. Heswings effortlessly from branch to branch like a gibbon, instead of likea stunt man looking for his next strategically-placed vine. He also surfsthe jungle tree trunks like a skateboarder, making copious use of the movie'scoolest effect -- a new computer animation technique called Deep Canvasthat gives the an astonishing, three-dimensional feel to the lush, livingjungle, which Tarzan kowabungas though at roller-coaster speeds.

But enough about technique. Of course "Tarzan"looks incredible. It's just Disney once again rising to the occasion andthen some. Advancing the film animation art form by leaps and bounds isold hat to these guys.

Just as important is that the 'toon "Tarzan"is also a whole lot of fun and joyously 'toony, even with its highfalutinartistic achievements.

Disney's Tarzan is an indelible, honest hero voiced byTony Goldwyn (best known as the bad yuppie in "Ghost") with noblegrunts and cat-like curiosity to go with his requisite Sunday school lessonidentity hang-ups that stem from being raised by gorillas.

Said curiosity is piqued with the arrival in his jungleof the first humans he's ever seen -- a Victorian safari, consisting ofa diminutive, clumsy professor-type anthropologist (Nigel Hawthorne) andhis prim but adventurous daughter, Jane (Minnie Driver).

I don't think I need to go into too much detail here sinceHollywood has had darn near 70 variations on this yarn in the last 90 years.Suffice to say, the parts of the story you don't already know by heartconcern the safari guide, Clayton (Brian Blessed), a mustache-twirlingGreat White Hunter with designs on Tarzan's relatives for a zoo exhibit.

No one has ever accused Disney of originality at the screenplaylevel.

However, when it comes to storytelling technique, "Tarzan"is more ambitious and inventive than anything the mouse house has crankedout since "The Lion King."

Complementing the standard "me Tarzan, you Jane"stuff is an intelligently symbolic scene of Tarzan removing of Jane's crispwhite gloves (after rescuing her from a cougar, natch). The movie illustratesa trading cultures/budding romance sequence with a crafty zoetrope andslide show montage (ala "Butch Cassidy") of Tarzan's exposureto Western technology (telescope, bicycle, books) and customs. And thevoices of Goldwyn and especially Driver instill their cartoon incarnationswith great vivacity. Although one has to wonder at times how bright thesefolks are since it takes them most of the picture before they catch onto the completely transparent villain.

The story is, of course, predictable. The stock charactersare, of course, unavoidable, including comic relief sidekick critters likethe tomboy gorilla voiced obnoxiously by Rosie O'Donnell. This is the wayDisney does things, and we must remember no matter how much fun the movieis for us grown-ups, its really aimed at kids who couldn't care less aboutsuch trifles.

Except for a "Stomp"-style ditty called "Trashingthe Camp" (gorillas exploiting the fact that the Europeans took itall with them), the music is not sung by the characters this time around.Phil Collins provides the songs, which at first seem intrusive and overlysophisticated for the movie's untamed grain, and "Tarzan" is,at times, too reliant on them to illustrate emotions. But Collins' tunesinfuse the picture with a certain energy that is slowly contagious. Andat least it's not Randy Newman.

My only real complaint about "Tarzan" is thatthe last reel feels quite rushed, with Tarzan tempting tragedy by unknowinglyleading Clayton to the gorillas, a subsequent action scene, and Jane packingup, leaving and, of course, returning -- all in about 8 minutes.

Even five minutes added to the run time could have slowedthis breakneck resolution.

But "Tarzan" is definitely a keeper and one ofthe more unique and original Disney animation spectacles. The finally seamlessmarriage of computer and hand animation that stems from the Deep Canvastechnique will be its legacy, but what audiences will remember is thatthey had fun.



Tarzan

Facts and Figures

Run time: 88 mins

In Theaters: Friday 18th June 1999

Distributed by: Buena Vista Pictures

Production compaines: Constantin Film Produktion, Ambient Entertainment GmbH

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Fresh: 92 Rotten: 12

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Tarzan, as Derek, Jaime Ray Newman as Alice, as Jane Porter, as Miller, Mark Deklin as John Greystoke, Brian Huskey as Smith, as Young Taug, Rebecca Reaney as Jane

Also starring: ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

On the Road Movie Review

On the Road Movie Review

Wolf Alice fans are likely to be rather disappointed by this hybrid documentary-drama about the...

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Skilfully made by Swedish filmmaker Janus Metz (the award-winning Armadillo), this film is essentially a...

Advertisement
The Glass Castle Movie Review

The Glass Castle Movie Review

There are quite a few terrific moments in this true story, based on the memoir...

Home Again Movie Review

Home Again Movie Review

Reese Witherspoon is so likeable that she can carry even the most hackneyed of romantic...

Brimstone Movie Review

Brimstone Movie Review

An unnerving Western with a sharp female perspective, this film is a series of gruesome...

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Two years ago, Kingsman: The Secret Service seemed to come out of nowhere, ruffling feathers...

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

This biopic about Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne may look like the usual lushly...

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.