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Movie Review: The Legend of Tarzan (Spoiler Free)
Spoiler Free and Author's Experience
I do my best to avoid most spoilery content. Trailers give a decent bit away, enough to nearly be able to tell the film in an abstract manner however.
Also, I have a very minimal understanding of the Tarzan mythos. I've seen the Disney flick, and I know they've made other films based on the book series, but I know not how many or what stories. Is this a remake of Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan Lord of the Apes? I have no idea.
So, I've never been a big fan of Tarzan. I enjoyed the Disney film, especially with the music of Phil Collins, and most notably the barely veiled graphic death of the antagonist. That's not to say I dislike the idea, but a half-naked man of the jungle fighting against aggressive colonialism doesn't hold a lot of charisma for me.
So, the film was fine with me. I'm far from jumping at the chance to see it again, but I didn't regret my time seeing it.
If you're familiar with the Disney movie, I'm using that as a jumping off point. Tarzan and Jane have moved back to England and are married (in fact, going as far as having lost one child at some undisclosed point). Tarzan is approached by an American representative who is worried about the Belgium king enslaving the Congo areas. Meanwhile, a Belgium representative is working to procure diamonds from the Congo and needs Tarzan to do it.
The film starts off at a decent pace, setting up events with a couple of nifty notes here and there. When the conflict is actually set (which may take a little while), the film gets better as we join Tarzan, Samuel L. Jackson's character (which is basically Samuel L. Jackson in another role), and various African natives chasing Waltz' character. Seeing the jungle adventures with Jackson's swarmy comments, is fun and entertaining.
However towards the end of the film, I begin to feel the film falling apart. I struggled to find whether or not the film was pushing Tarzan to be an actual mythical force or a very talented human being raised in extraordinary circumstances. I think I'm leaning towards the former, especially given how overly ridiculous the finale becomes. It feels over exaggerated in order to feel more climatic and the pacing and realism hits a snag and falls on its face. I enjoyed the middle meat quite a bit though.
This might be my own personal preference, but after having watched Disney's The Jungle Book (2016), there were undeniable comparisons to be drawn. Above all it's the heavy use of CGI. The Jungle Book wins here despite the fact that the entire film is CGI aside from the actor portraying Mowgli. In fact, this might have been why there is no visual disconnect in The Jungle Book.
There's some violence (and a fair bit of choking, honestly) but there's little that's deeply unsettling. There's some profanity (as you might guess from Samuel L. Jackson, and then some others) but there are no 'F' bombs. Overall, it's pretty tame for a summer flick.
Going in with little expectation, I was not disappointed. I was hardly inspired either, but as a summer flick (where movies are pushed all the time) I was entertained. Sure, I've got my complaints but for every bad CGI crocodile I got to see Wasimbu's absurdly happy face. Every illogical animal action has Samuel L. Jackson acting like an old, out of shape man in the jungle. It all really balances out.
Also noteworthy, Tarzan's english name is Clayton. This is confusing because the Disney film, but apparently it's his actual name in the original books. The more you know.
- Perfectly serviceable summer flick
- winning performances by the supporting cast
- sometimes distracting CGI
- It's a standard film I would recommend you to watch on Redbox if you want a movie night but don't have a strong desire for any particular film.