The Legend of Tarzan

"Good"

The Legend of Tarzan Review


It's been nearly 30 years since the last live-action Tarzan movie, and yet it still feels too soon for another remake. Thankfully, this is actually a sequel (perhaps it should have been titled Tarzan Returns), and along with a first-rate cast, this movie has a surprisingly beefy script that hints at a much more high-brow adventure epic. But clearly the studio preferred to make a mindless bit of blockbuster action.

After leaving the jungle, Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard) has settled into life in damp 1880s England as the Earl of Greystoke with his American wife Jane (Margot Robbie). Meanwhile, deep in the Congo, Belgian diplomat Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz) has made a deal with Chief Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou), who has a personal grudge against Tarzan. Planning to hand over Tarzan in exchange for diamonds, Leon lures Tarzan back to Africa, accompanied by Jane and the American explorer George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson), who suspects that the slave trade hasn't ended. On arrival, Leon pounces, and Tarzan must revert to the instincts he learned from the gorillas who raised him, while calling on help from old friends.

The plot is actually quite compelling, sparking lots of whooshing action (including plenty of vine-swinging) while grappling with some bigger themes involving colonialism and racism, plus more personal issues of identity and responsibility. The actors pack their scenes with textures that touch on these ideas, while also providing a spark of wit. With his impossibly sculpted physique, Skarsgard looks rather too gym-fit for the role, but he gives Tarzan a soulfulness that makes him likeable. He also develops some steamy chemistry with Robbie, who shines in her role as a feisty woman happy to return to the village where she was raised. The best scene in the film is when she has dinner with Waltz' sneering villain, gleefully swapping innuendo. And even with the action and gunplay, this is Jackson's deepest role in years.

So it's a shame that director David Yates relies so heavily on digital animation, indulging in corny violence and some very choppy editing. Yates made the last four Harry Potter movies (and is directing the forthcoming Fantastic Beasts prequel), so effects-heavy filmmaking is kind of his thing. And at least the performance-capture animals look great. But the obviously animated landscapes and action undermine the more interesting things going on here. And the simplistic movie gimmicks (like Leon's rosary or Jane's floaty white dress) dumb things down further. It's still an entertaining action romp, but it could have been a lot more.

Rich Cline

Watch the trailer for The Legend Of Tarzan:



The Legend of Tarzan

Facts and Figures

Genre: Action/Adventure

Run time: 30 mins

In Theaters: Monday 4th July 2016

Budget: $180M

Production compaines: Dark Horse Entertainment, Jerry Weintraub Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Tarzan, as Jane Porter, as Captain Leon Rom, Samuel L. Jackson as George Washington Williams, as Chief Mbonga, as Young Jane Body Double, Casper Crump as Captain Kerchover, Alicia Woodhouse as Carriage Rider, Rory J. Saper as Young Tarzan, Matt Townsend as Belgian Conscript, Bentley Kalu as Mbolongo Warrior, Joy Isa as Kuba woman, as Mercenary, Abi Adeyemi as Kuba Villager, Alex Ferns as Force Publique, Liv Hansen as Carriage Passenger, Osy Ikhile as Kwete

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