Here’s the thing about The Legend of Tarzan, there’s a lot of interesting ideas with good story and character elements. however, I don’t feel like this film reached the potential it could have. Now I LOVE Disney’s Tarzan, it’s one of my favourite animated films ever, and while it took a lot of liberties with the source material, it was a wonderful visual experience with a simple yet effect story with characters you cared about and cool soundtrack to boot (yes I loved the Phil Collins sound, suck it haters)! So I’m a little biased. However, after doing some reading about Tarzan online I’ve come to realise that he’s a pretty interesting character with cool stories and a lot of potential for more modern live-action adaptations because, Tarzan, while he’s been depicted in many live-action versions prior to this 2016 version, I feel like there’s always been room for improvement with technology, cinematography and the depiction of Tarzan’s abilities. So even though I didn’t feel the need to see another big-screen version of Tarzan, at the same time I was curious to see what Tarzan would look like with today’s technology and under the direction of David Yates.
The story can be described as the following:
“Tarzan, having acclimated to life in London, is called back to his former home in the jungle to investigate the activities at a mining encampment.”
The story was certainly interesting with the film focusing on life of Tarzan post jungle and then having a situation that would force him out of his civilised life and back into the wild. It was nice to see the origins of Tarzan’s life in flashbacks similar to Man of Steel, I also liked how there was history between not only just Tarzan’s life in the jungle but also an African tribe and other animals that helped flesh out the world and make Tarzan and Jane’s life seem well-lived and detailed. However the plot felt very familiar and standard fare to anyone to who’s seen any kind of film in the action adventure genre, it also doesn’t help that the script lacked a lot of unique or compelling elements, and the dramatic or subtle moments that the film tried to portray didn’t have the right kind of emotional depth. It also didn’t help that most of the interesting aspects of the film was about Tarzan’s past and the latter half of the film, everything else just felt like a chore to get through. However if you’re just looking for a simple action adventure film and you’re not too fussed about the story details then you’ll forgive those issues I previously highlighted.
The cast do a decent job, though some people were clearly better than others. Firstly there’s Alexander Skarsgård as Tarzan/John Clayton III, Lord Greystoke. Can I just say that Skarsgård as nice as he is, looks too pretty to be Tarzan. For a dude raised in the jungle and having dealt with the harsh nature of that lifestyle for years, the guy looked too perfect in body structure and the face, I would have preferred the guy be a little more rough around the edges with more battle scars and longer hair. Plus Tarzan felt a little plain and unless Jane was involved, the man felt lacking in the motivation department and considering the book material the character could have been a lot more fun and intriguing to watch. Outside of that I will say that did start to come around to Skarsgård towards the end of the film. Margot Robbie as Jane did alright as Tarzan’s wife, Robbie brought a lovely charm to the character, however, she was also a little plain and her romance with Tarzan felt so engaging and tedious. Samuel L. Jackson was the best as George Washington Williams, Jackson was clearly having fun in the role and his character while having some serious moments, also provided most of the film’s best moments of humour nad he was the best part of the cast. Christoph Waltz was severely underwhelming as Captain Léon Rom, Waltz just played the same average/lazy villain role that he’s become attached to in recent years and while he was fine, it felt like he wasn’t really trying. Djimon Hounsou was actually pretty good as Chief Mbonga, while Casper Crump (who some keen-eyed viewers will recognise him from DC’s Legends of Tomorrow as Vandal Savage) was fun as Captain Kerchover.
When it comes to the presentation visually the film was decent with some nice camera work, action scenes and CGI. Though I feel like the quality of the visual effects fluctuated between being decent to pretty lazy and blurry, also for a film with tribal warriors, and a man who fights apes and summons the animals to fight for him, I feel like the action lacked creativity, flair and choreography, Tarzan’s action scenes were just alright and the fact that the tribe people didn’t get to do much felt like a wasted opportunity. Also the film score by Rupert Gregson-Williams was alright, but wasn’t nearly as memorable as it should have been and at times it tried to be super dramatic with some of the vocals but it didn’t connect with me.
In the The Legend of Tarzan wasn’t as bad as I had initially feared, it had moments of intrigue and fun and I was having fun with it especially when Sam Jackson was involved. But I just felt like the film was a little formulaic, didn’t expand the mythology of the title character or do much to sway people who weren’t fans of the material beforehand.
Rating: 5.5/10 (It was just alright)
So have you seen The Legend of Tarzan and if so what did you think of it? Be sure to comment below, share your thoughts and I’ll see you on the next review, laters! 😀