THE LEGEND OF TARZAN – review

THE LEGEND OF TARZAN

     While I enjoyed most of “The Legend of Tarzan” for what it was, I couldn’t help but notice how much Alexander Skarsgard’s take on Tarzan was a far too restrained one, one that doesn’t ever feel “wild”, even after his domestication in England. Speaking of England, Skarsgard struggles to sound like he’s even remotely from there, going in and out of English accent regularly and sounding more like an American trying to do a British accent.

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So while we still get the backstory of the man raised by gorillas, we still get the “talks to the animals” stuff, the vine-swinging and the famous yell, this version of the legend is politically correct.  He fights animals without killing them. He is beloved by Africa and almost all the Africans we meet. And he saves the continent from a European menace.imgres-57

We meet Tarzan in London, where he’s lived with wife Jane (Margot Robbie) for years. He still has his jungle heritage, and the knuckles and hands of a man who grew up running on all-fours. He’s needed back in Africa. King Leopold of Belgium has closed off the Congo to the world and is committing unspeakable violence in the name of harvesting the riches (ivory, minerals) there.images-63

But an American Civil War survivor (Samuel L. Jackson) convinces the once and future Tarzan to join him for a fact-finding mission. Jane is most enthusiastic of all, even though she’s not invited.

King Leopold’s Henchman in Africa, played by Christoph Waltz, is determined to capture the legendary Tarzan and deliver him to an ancient enemy (Djimon Hounsou). And if he has to snatch Jane to get to Tarzan, so be it.images-62

It’s a seriously old-fashioned jungle action picture, with white colonials brutally mistreating natives, a long journey up river and jungle creatures fought. Flashbacks telling us the familiar story of how Tarzan came to be raised by apes, and how he met Jane.images-61

While Skarsgård might have struggled, his character will be popular with the ladies who will enjoy the many shirtless moments he provides.  The rest of the cast filled in nicely with their performances.  Margot Robbie as Jane is an interesting take on the character and just continues to prove that Robbie can take on any role with ease and poise, quickly becoming one of the finest actors of her generation. Samuel L. Jackson is surprisingly well-cast as Dr. George Washington Williams, an American who accompanies Tarzan to Congo to prove that the Belgian king is secretly enslaving the people of the Congo for his own gain. Jackson, who seems to take any role he can get nowadays, does nice work here. Christoph Waltz does excellent as the villain in the film, as he always doesimages-60

You’ll probably see better films this summer, but “The Legend of Tarzan” is a solid movie worth the price of admission that is here to entertain, not win Oscars. The film benefits greatly from its direction and creative work behind it, but it’s very predictable and Alexander Skarsgard disappoints a bit. Luckily, the film is saved a ton from its supporting cast and ends up being halfway decent by the time the movie ends.

Lance Roshel

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