DIRECTOR: David Yates LEAD CAST: Alexander Skarsgård, Christoph Waltz, Margot Robbie, Samuel L. Jackson, Djimon Hounsou, Jim Broadbent SCREENWRITERS: Adam Cozad, Craig Brewer STORY: Craig Brewer, Adam Cozad BASED ON THE ‘TARZAN’ STORIES CREATED BY: Edgar Rice Burroughs PRODUCERS: David Barron, Tony Ludwig, Alan Richie, Jerry Weintraub, Mike Richardson ART DIRECTORS: David Allday, James Hambidge
MUSIC BY: Rupert Gregson-Williams FILM EDITOR: Mark Day GENRE: Action, Adventure CINEMATOGRAPHER: Henry Braham COSTUME DESIGNER: Ruth Myers PRODUCTION DESIGNER: Stuart Craig PRODUCTON COMPANIES: Warner Bros. Pictures, Dark Horse Entertainment, Jerry Weintraub Productions, Riche/Ludwig Productions, Village Roadshow Pictures DISTRIBUTED BY: Warner Bros. Pictures/Time Warner COUNTRY: United States LANGUAGE: English FILMING LOCATIONS: England, U.K., Gabon RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes
Technical assessment: 3.5
Moral assessment: 3
CINEMA rating: V14
MTRCB rating: PG
In this latest spin on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ well-loved story of a man raised by the apes, Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) now leads a gentrified life as John Clayton III, Lord Greystoke, married to his beloved Jane Porter (Margot Robie). Eight years after he left the African jungles to come to settle down in England with Jane, nobleman Clayton is now being urged to travel back to the Congo by the Belgian King Leopold II on behalf of Great Britain. Preferring to lead a quiet life of an aristocrat in his London estate, Clayton refuses but is subsequently persuaded by the American president’s envoy George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson) who discloses that the Belgian king might be promoting slave labor in the Congo. Like Tarzan/Clayton, Jane loves the people in the land they both grew up in, and so joins her husband and Williams to Africa. Meanwhile, the king’s emissary, the wicked Captain Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz) is hatching a sinister plot to betray Clayton.
While nothing seems outstanding about the sounds (including music) in The Legend of Tarzan, the sights are a visual treat. Of course, it’s largely CGI, but there is a marked difference between the pleasure offered by Tarzan’s CGI and that of, say, Transformers or Terminators. Somehow there is more soul when the action involves God-made creatures being their natural selves than when it shows man-made robots kicking metal ass. The sight of hundreds of wildebeests stampeding through town is simply awesome, and the ape-man’s eye-popping vine-swinging makes trapeze artistry sans safety nets look like kindergarten stuff. (Incidentally, not one animal in this movie is real). Straightforward story-telling serves as the strength of the plot, supported by a well-chosen cast of actors that are a perfect fit for their roles. The legend of Tarzan preserves the essence of the source material while presenting completely new fiction by incorporating flashbacks of Tarzan’s past into the narrative. Thus, viewers need not be bored by another re-interpretation of the ape-man classic. (Besides, how can a film with Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz in it ever be boring?)
There are two things in The legend of Tarzan that might bother the cause-oriented and/or pious viewer. First, that it is “racist”--in fact, some outspoken film critics have slammed the movie for its white-savior character. It must be noted that while the "savior" figure is a white man, the oppressors (of the black slaves) are also white, therefore he is merely trying to heal the wound that his fellow white men have inflicted. Second: that it is sacrilegious, since a rosary is used in unholy ways. The owner of the rosary constantly fingers the beads, giving the impression that he is such a pious man. Well, as he says, the rosary is made of “Madagascar spider silk”, practically indestructible and tightens as it is pulled loose, and so comes handy when you want to strangle someone to death. But don’t blink—see what happens when you fake praying the rosary? He is devoured live by crocodiles. That’s poetic justice for you.