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Movie Review: The Legend of Tarzan
The Legend of Tarzan
Release date: 7/1/2016
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Running time: 110 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, some sensuality and brief rude dialogue.
Director: David Yates
Writers: Craig Brewer, Adam Cozard
Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Margot Robbie, Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz, Djimon Hounsou, Jim Broadbent
For a new tale of an old story comes 2016's The Legend of Tarzan. Beginning years after Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) has left the jungle and settled for life in Victorian-era London, he now lives as John Clayton with his beautiful American wife, Jane (Margot Robbie). Tarzan is encouraged by Civil War veteran George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson) to return to the Congo Basin for diplomatic reasons. Despite Tarzan's initial disapproval of her coming along, Jane also accompanies them.
Soon after arriving, the group is ambushed by Captain Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz). Rom has made a deal with the leader (Djimon Hounsou) of savage island natives in which he will receive diamonds in exchange for Tarzan. After Rom captures Jane, Tarzan goes after her with help from Williams and his jungle friends.
Directed by David Yates (the back half of the Harry Potter movies), The Legend of Tarzan is middling summer entertainment. Tarzan's backstory is limited to flashbacks that fill in the blanks about his upbringing and how he and Jane met. But the audience never invests in the characters and their journey as much as they should. A big problem is Skarsgård's stiff performance. His Tarzan is short on the charm we expect from the character but long on silent stares.
The Legend of Tarzan is not a terrible movie, for it contains moments of excitement. The special effects are great, while Robbie and Jackson are fun companions (this Jane is no helpless damsel in distress). The sets in this Warner Bros. production are different from the CGI-heavy live-action Disney remakes. But a weak lead and indistinct writing are problems too big to dismiss. Despite noble intentions, the whole enterprise fails to take off. This Tarzan is another one of this summer's many movies that will be forgotten by Labor Day.