RELEASED 2016 RUNTIME 110 MIN LANGUAGE ENGLISH DIRECTION DAVID YATES SCREENPLAY ADAM COZAD, CRAIG BREWER STARRING ALEXANDER SKARSGARD, MARGOT ROBBIE, SAMUEL L. JACKSON, DJIMON HOUNSOU, JIM BROADBENT, CHRISTOPH WALTZ MUSIC RUPERT GREGSON-WILLIAMS, HANS ZIMMER
Directed by David Yates The Legend Of Tarzan is an unofficial sequel to the popular story of John Clayton III (Alexander Skarsgard) who was raised by apes a long time ago and now lives back in London – England. He gets called back to Africa because of enslavery of his former people and friends in the regions of Congo
I wasn’t expecting much of the movie. The trailers made it seem like a generic summer blockbuster treatment of a popular license with a pretty interesting cast.
Also, while reading up to it I realised that this story is not a retelling of Tarzan’s origins we all got to know, but a continuation. So, I became interested of where they are going to move the story forward. And to be frank, there are parts that are quite interesting.
The movie starts out in London where Tarzan/John Clayton III has become integrated back into western human society. Him and Jane have managed to make their relationship work and so they keep living a good high society life in the city.
I like all parts that involve Jane and Tarzan’a relationship. It’s done very subtle and natural. It nicely showcases how somebody who grew up in the jungle would feel among humans and how his partner would deal with it. After all, his animal instincts are still slumbering within him.
The movie also keeps cutting back to the past and shows you a little bit of the backstory of how John Clayton III became Tarzan and how he and Jane got to meet each other. I like these parts a lot and they nicely explain Johns point of view and where he is coming from. They may even be my favorite part of the movie, which tells me on the other hand that maybe I would have liked a retelling of his origins more than what I got here.
As mentioned, the cast makes the movie look very interesting. Besides Alexander Skarsgard as Tarzan we got Margot Robbie as Jane and Christoph Waltz as Leon Rom, the villain. They get accompanied by an equally as interesting supporting cast starring Samuel L. Jackson and Djimon Hounsou. In general the the actors do a serviceable job. Though, besides Margot Robbie, nobody really stands out.
Christoph Waltz does his stick, but a little more serious than usual. Samuel L. Jackson is Samuel L. Jackson dressed in adventurer clothes. And Alexander Skarsgard as Tarzan is ok. He is a little stoic and has a hard time grabbing you emotionally. You are supposed to root for him, but he doesn’t feel very vulnerable whatsoever. So you lack the connection to the character. Too bad because he looks the part.
What’s going for the movie the most is the tone. I like David Yates’ directorial style. He directed the last four Harry Potter movies and you will recognize his handwriting. Just as the Harry Potter films, this movie looks gritty and dark. It has a very pale color palette which makes it look very grounded and real, but also very dower.
What I didn’t like as much was some use of CG. While I like how the animals and some of the backgrounds are animated, the parts where Tarzan is swinging in the rainforest seem a little overdrawn. A little bit more subtlety would have worked wonders.
Another part that I didn’t like is the final act. It comes out of nowhere. There is no transition from act two to act 3. It’s very awkwardly edited and seems like something in between is missing or has been cut. It’s basically an action set piece followed by another action set piece without the necessary connective tissue, especially because it takes place in a different location. How the characters got there is a mistery.
In general I had fun with the film. But it’s definitely not a standout by any means. It’s a pretty generic blockbuster that looks beautiful, but lacks substance. Alexander Skarsgard as Tarzan is serviceable, but lacks the charisma to really make his performance memorable. I think a stronger script and a little bit more fun could have ultimately helped the movie out significantly.