“The Legend of Tarzan” stars Alexander Skarsgard, Margot Robbie, Samuel L. Jackson, Djimon Hounsou, Jim Broadbent, and Christoph Waltz. Released on July 1, 2016, the film is about a man who must rediscover his true identity in order to save his wife from a greedy Belgian captain.
The film is directed by David Yates, who also directed The Tichborne Claimant, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and the upcoming film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It is based on the fictional character of the same name by Edgar Rice Burroughs. In case you have been living under a rock for so long, Tarzan has been around for many decades in terms of novels, films, and television. The only version where I’ve heard of the character was from the Disney version back in 1999. What made me interested in this latest version was the concept and the film’s director. I thought David Yates did a great job bringing the popular Harry Potter franchise to a close, so I was curious to see his take on the decades-old legend. I was able to see it at a Thursday night screening with a decent crowd who were quite polite, but a bit messy afterwards. However, it did not distract me from doing my job, which is to enjoy the movie and share my thoughts with you guys, the readers. So...here are my thoughts, I guess.
The story, compared to the other Tarzan films, is pretty different as it shows what happens when Tarzan, played by True Blood star Alexander Skarsgard, leaves his jungle life behind to live with his wife Jane, played by Margot Robbie, as an aristocrat. When he is invited back to the Congo Free State to serve as a trader emissary, he discovers a deadly plot lead by Captain Leon Rom, who is portrayed by Christoph Waltz. The way they told that kind of story seemed interesting to me because we’ve seen Tarzan as an ape man who is adapting to his jungle life and living with a bunch of violent gorillas. Here, we’re seeing him trying to find his inner ape man that he had lost for years in order to save his wife. It’s a nice change of pace in terms of how the legend was told. However, the way they told that story could’ve been handled a bit better, in my opinion. As for the performances, Skarsgard did a decent job portraying the title character and Robbie was passable as Jane. Jane was pretty much your typical damsel in distress, but it didn’t really bother me that much. Samuel L. Jackson did what he can to make this film enjoyable as George Washington Williams, who serves as a companion to Tarzan, or John Clayton III to be exact. Not only was his performance good, but his humor was pretty darn laughable in a good way. There were some moments that were a bit cheesy, but the film prevented itself from having too much cheese on its plate. The CGI in this film wasn’t as extraordinary as some of the other films with CGI, but it’s still passable. Although at some points, it can be a bit noticeable. David Yates did a nice job at making the action entertaining and intense without getting too dark in the process, even though some of the action shots were a bit hard to see because of the camera movements.
Aside from the story and some noticeable CGI, the only flaw that I am most concerned of is the villain. Leon Rom is best described as a weak villain who only cares about greed and revenge. There’s nothing really special about the villain. He’s just a really bad person. Which is a shame because I thought Christoph Waltz is a very talented actor.
Overall, “The Legend of Tarzan” swings with ease, but lands with a soft thud. I like the performances, the CGI was decent, and the action was tense. However, compared to David Yates’ other films and the Disney version, it didn’t soar as high as I wanted it to go. If you’re a fan of the source material, I would say that you might enjoy this latest adaptation of the fictional character. If you like Yates’ other works, chances are you might be disappointed with his latest film. But on the bright side, we still have Fantastic Beasts to look forward to later this year, so...yeah, there’s that.