The Legend of Tarzan Review

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By Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)

 

Is it just me, or does it feel like a lot of animated cartoons and movies are now getting the live-action treatment? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, and, more recently, The Jungle Book, all come to mind. The trend continues with the newest animated film to jump from the drawing board to flesh-and-blood with latest film from David Yates, The Legend of Tarzan.

 

It has been some years since Jane (Margot Robbie) first met Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard) in the jungles of Africa. They are now married and live in London, where Tarzan, known by the name John Clayton III, is now a businessman. He is invited back to the Congo as a trade emissary by Dr. George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson), a former military man. Unbeknownst to both men, this is really a plot to bring Tarzan back by the Belgian, Captain Rom (Christoph Waltz), who has a much darker agenda. Will Tarzan be able to find out the plot and save himself and the people of Africa, or will he remain a pawn in Rom’s plan?

The Legend of Tarzan 1

 

Whatever perceptions you had about Tarzan should be thrown out the window, because this is not the Disney version. There is an underlying darker tone and much more violence, although at times it is subdued and, at other times, unrealistic. With his return to Africa and the jungles, Tarzan comes upon his old gorilla family and must fight the alpha male. A human fighting an alpha gorilla in hand-to-hand combat – yeah, you read it correctly. Now, realistically speaking, we know a human would be torn to shreds in this situation, teeth and nails flying everywhere. Yet, the way it plays out, that doesn’t happen (though the way it does turn out isn’t really believable either). Then, of course, we have to have a scene with Tarzan swinging from vines, crossing the jungle. Again, not realistic at all, but this is Tarzan and that is one of the things he was known for, so it had to be in there, for better or for worse. With the way Hollywood has gone these days in trying to bring a more realistic touch to films, it is nice to see an attempt like this pan out the way it does, minus the handful of unrealistic moments. The story is fresh and the CGI is on point, especially when it comes to the animals living in the jungles and on the African plains. There are also some beautiful shots of Africa which can bring on thoughts of wanderlust.

 

Where we, as the audience, really need to be sold is in the area of acting, and the talent here is more than adequate to deliver the story. However, Skarsgard’s portrayal of Tarzan almost feels one-note at times. He is generally seen with a scowl, interspersed here and there with a few scenes of anger and happiness mixed in.  Perhaps this was a character choice Skarsgard made, but it doesn’t add much variety to the character. Tarzan comes across as all business, whether he’s in London or in Africa. Maybe he’s always just that focused on the task at hand to really enjoy life? Margot Robbie is absolutely perfect as Jane. She brings that bit of inquisitive, spunky fire we all remember from her and plays the part the exact way we’d envision Jane to be in the real world. Robbie is by far the best cast actor in the film. Sam Jackson’s character is more or less there as a catalyst to help the story along, playing the role of Tarzan’s right hand man once they get to Africa and unravel the plot at hand. He’s given the title of “Doctor,” but that’s really a stretch. And Christoph Waltz is another one-note character. Not that it is his fault, but, for narrative progression, it’s easier in this type of film when the bad guy isn’t too complex and we can let him just be bad and make problems for our protagonist to overcome. That’s unfortunate, though, as Waltz is an a~maz~ing actor and it really feels like his talents have gone to waste here. So sad…

 

The Legend of Tarzan 2

 

While Tarzan isn’t a perfect film by any means, it is still enjoyable. The sass that Margot Robbie brings to Jane, along with some great cinematography, picturesque locations, and fun action sequences make it all the more worthwhile. Plus, taking a story known so well and expanding upon it here, having it take place once Tarzan is older and out of the jungle, puts a new spin on this classic story. Add in the fact that they tried to make it a more realistic story, minus some very unrealistic parts (we can give it a few leniencies here), it can be a fun time for most everyone. It may not be the Disney, family-oriented film some may hope, but more of a Disney for adults, had Disney been a part of the film.

 

ROIting: 3halfroiheadRed copy   out of  FiveroiheadRed copy

The Legend of Tarzan 3


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