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Movie Review: The Legend of Tarzan (Spoiler Free)

Updated on July 5, 2016

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.

Film poster for The Legend of Tarzan
Film poster for The Legend of Tarzan | Source

Initial Impressions

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.

The Plot

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.

Tarzan('s abs) with gorillas and a native tribe
Tarzan('s abs) with gorillas and a native tribe | Source

The CGI

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.

Christoph Waltz playing the main antagonist
Christoph Waltz playing the main antagonist | Source

Rated PG-13

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.

Closing Thoughts

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.

Tl;dr

  • 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.

Margot Robbie (pictured above), Samuel L. Jackson, and Djimon Hounsou all play a supporting role as well
Margot Robbie (pictured above), Samuel L. Jackson, and Djimon Hounsou all play a supporting role as well | Source

Do you still plan on seeing this film?

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    • rjbatty profile image

      rjbatty 17 months ago from Irvine

      You have to read the Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan novels to get a true sense of who Tarzan really is ... or was meant to be. The basic thing that all depictions of Tarzan just ignore is that he was indeed a savage for a good portion of his life. He ate the flesh of Black tribesmen, without compunction. They were all equivalent to having rabbits on a spit. But being of noble (white) birth, Tarzan could also adapt to learning french and english languages and using them both in ultra-polite society. He may have been raised by an unspecified species of hominids (most likely chimpanzees -- still hardly known or understood at the time of writing), but his parents originated from England and thus he could easily switch from being a total savage to a passable Englishman. Tarzan had no lack of skills, and this is indicative of the time in which Burroughs created his character.

    • CYong74 profile image

      Cedric Yong 17 months ago from Singapore

      I will still watch this, but with tempered expectations. Thanks for the heads up!