The Legend of Tarzan (2016)

3:05 PM

Human. Nature.
The Legend of Tarzan is directed by David Yates (Harry Potter) and stars Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood, Generation Kill), Margot Robbie (Focus, Suicide Squad), Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained, Spectre) and Samuel L. Jackson (The Hateful Eight, Django Unchained). "Tarzan, having acclimated to life in London, is called back to his former home in the jungle to investigate the activities at a mining encampment". Warner Bros are having another shot at live action fairy tales - they failed with Pan, how will they fair with Tarzan?

This was a really enjoyable film - I know it is being hated on by most critics but I found a lot to like in Tarzan. I don't know whether that's because I have a soft spot for live action fairy-tales (I also thought The Huntsman was solid but I was in the minority but I did despise Pan and Alice 2) or whether 2016 has been lacking in great films that even the average ones seem good? The Legend of Tarzan is a dumb but fun film - there are moments where you will laugh for all the wrong reasons but there are also other moments where you will feel genuinely excited about what is happening on screen.

The performances in The Legend of Tarzan are nothing special at all but all of the talent do a nice job. I have to give credit to the casting director of this film as they have done an excellent job - what a great cast this is! Even though none of the actors do anything different with their characters, they execute their performances well. I was worried about Skarsgard as I am not familiar with his previous work so I thought maybe he was cast for his appearance over his actual talent - I thought he did a solid job as Tarzan - even though the film surprisingly was lacking Tarzan as a character, Skarsgard did nothing wrong. The majority of the screen time was divided between Robbie, Waltz and Jackson - Robbie also did a solid job as Jane. I liked the film's take on the character as it made more of an effort to make her less of a damsel in distress; Jane became a slightly stronger character. I thought Robbie did well to make the character likeable. The chemistry between Robbie and Skarsgard was strong even though the sex scene that made headlines seems like it has been heavily edited down for the final movie. Christoph Waltz was one of my favourite parts of Spectre so I was pleased to see him playing basically the same role here - even though Waltz may not have much diversity as an actor, he is good at playing sly villains. It is hard to feel warm to Samuel L. Jackson in movies these days as it feels like he is in literally anything that will give him a pay-cheque - his character was completely unnecessary here and just provided comic relief. Jackson did a nice job but I couldn't stop myself from thinking he wasn't really in the film for passion just for money.

My favourite element of The Legend of Tarzan was the action - I thought it was extremely well done and very exciting. I think that was helped by a great soundtrack that helped to build anticipation and even more excitement. I thought the action sequences were also edited well and the use of slow motion was refreshing and executed well. Tarzan is definitely worth seeing on the big screen as the action wouldn't be as effective elsewhere. Even though it does drag at times, Tarzan is mostly a very exciting film.

The main critique of Tarzan from most critics is that it has a pretty generic plot. However, I don't really see that. The plot is generic but it isn't generic for your typical Tarzan story. This is a generic plot for a superhero film and I really liked that take on the character - Tarzan is treated like a superhero; Tarzan is living his everyday life at the beginning and something comes up that sends him back to Africa and as the film reaches its climax he gets suited up (strips down) into his Tarzan gear and shows off his powers. Yes, the plot is generic but it is also very refreshing for this type of film - who would of ever thought Tarzan would feel like a superhero film? I thought there was quite a lot of talking in the film which did make it feel quite slow at times - however, I also thought the film as a whole went really quick and it definitely is a fun watch this Summer. However, there are some moments that were pretty laughable - one of these is when Tarzan shares a moment with a lion - it was pretty awkward to watch. Some of the dialogue is pretty predictable and cliché too. Even though this superhero twist on the tale is pretty cool and exciting, it does make the film feel a little dumb and corny as Tarzan isn't a superhero and it really isn't what you would expect for a film about the character. The Legend of Tarzan also confuses itself with topics about slavery that are really just there to give the film a purpose - they aren't explained very well. The story also does have a nice romance at the heart of it.
 

The visuals for The Legend of Tarzan are a mixed bag - on one hand, the cinematography is beautiful and some of the shots are exceptionally stunning. However, the actual CGI is pretty poor - especially for a film following The Jungle Book which had outstanding CGI. I thought some of the monkeys and then all of the other animals (ostriches, lions etc) all looked pretty animated and not very realistic. Tarzan's budget was $180 million so I don't really know why more of that money wasn't spent on the visuals - to be honest, I don't really know where it was spent. If only Tarzan had the visuals of the Planet of the Apes movies and the same story/feel - it would be really enjoyable. Due to the poor CGI, The Legend of Tarzan probably won't hold up very well in a few years so if you really want to see it, catch it now on the big screen as 2016 in cinemas is where it'll play best.

The Legend of Tarzan is a dumb but incredibly fun film - it has a great cast which is led well by Skarsgard, Robbie, Waltz and Jackson - however, more Skarsgard is definitely needed as this is supposed to be his movie. Tarzan becomes a superhero and I kind of like it, even though it isn't the take I wanted going in. The visuals are impressive in terms of location shots and cinematography but the CGI is pretty weak in comparison to other films that are being produced today. The action is very exciting and definitely gives the film extra props. If you are in need of a pretty dark but at the same time fun take on Tarzan, this is for you! If you have a feeling you won't like it, keep swinging to a different film. However, I am invested in this take on Tarzan and thoroughly enjoyed it despite its major flaws.

3.5 STARS
B-

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