THE LEGEND OF TARZAN:
VISUALLY IMPRESSIVE BUT AT THE COST OF GENERIC STORYTELLING AND SLUGGISH PACING!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: C- (2 ½ stars)
WARNER BROS. PICTURES
Alexander Skarsgård as the Lord of the Apes in The Legend of Tarzan
There have been several takes on Edgar Rice Burroughs’s classic Tarzan stories over the years. Silent films from the 1910s to 1920s, the 1932 film, Tarzan the Ape Man, starring Johnny Weissmüller as the titular character, several other adaptations including one with Casper Van Dien as Tarzan, and many animated films based on the legend, including the 1999 feature from Disney.
Now, director David Yates (Harry Potter franchise, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) brings The Legend of Tarzan with Alexander Skarsgård (Zoolander, Straw Dogs, Battleship) as Tarzan. Seeing how David Yates already gained so much recognition over the years for directing one of the most critically and commercially successful film franchises of all time, Harry Potter, I was curious to see his take on the Tarzan stories and to see a Non-Potter related movie directed by him, yeah, I’m not very familiar with his directing work outside of Harry Potter.
The film is visually impressive and captures the jungle very well with its lighting and cinematography and the CG, while at times they look fake, other times they look amazing, and it had two of my favorite actors in it, Samuel L. Jackson (Jurassic Park, Pulp Fiction, Marvel Cinematic Universe) and Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained, Spectre). Unfortunately, the plot isn’t very interesting and the pacing is rather slow, it takes a while before we get into the vine swinging, ape fighting action that we paid for, but when the action does come in, it’s a ton of fun.
Several years after Tarzan (Skarsgård) left the jungles of Africa behind for a civilized life as John Clayton III with his wife, Jane (Margot Robbie-The Wolf of Wall Street, The Big Short, Suicide Squad). He is then invited to return to Congo to serve as a trade emissary of Parliament, unknown to him is a deadly convergence of greed and revenge by the Belgian Captain Leon Rom (Waltz) and he is a pawn in his plan.
So it’s up to Tarzan, Civil War soldier, George Washington Williams (Jackson) and the forces of the jungle to stop Rom before it’s too late.
Overall, The Legend of Tarzan is worth waiting to watch at home, unless you’re curious to see the visuals on IMAX 3D, then it might be worth watching in theaters for at least that reason. Aside from that, watching the movie on Netflix or On Demand would be a much wiser use of your money.
The story isn’t all that interesting, there are scenes that don’t really go anywhere, the pacing is slow, and sometimes the action sequences can be too quick and only left me with short bursts of excitement. What did keep me entertained all the way through was Christoph Waltz, he is one of my all-time favorite villain actors who always manages to deliver a memorable performance no matter what he’s in, you can just tell by looking at him that he is having fun with the performance and pretty much doing whatever he wants with it, he might be becoming the next Tim Curry or Christopher Walken.
Sadly, it’s not enough to save the movie, Skarsgård isn’t very interesting as Tarzan, Samuel L. Jackson gets a lot of badass moments but sometimes he can get a little annoying (Isn’t this guy supposed to be Nick Fury or something like that?), but whenever he does kick ass it’s always welcome.
Margot Robbie makes a decent Jane, though there’s not very much to her, she’s the damsel captured by Waltz that Tarzan has to save. But to her credit she does make attempts to save her own life, good move Robbie, and I look forward to seeing you as Harley Quinn in August.
This isn’t a bad movie by any means, there are parts I enjoyed, performances I loved, and the visuals kept my interest, but it was just when they had to focus on a story I’ve seen a million times before is when I lose interest. The 1999 Disney animated film was more family-friendly but it had a much stronger story and the characters left an impression, in this, there were characters that seemed pointless and didn’t add to much and I didn’t care for most of the characters.
Sorry Mr. Yates, better luck next time with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.