3.5 out of 5 stars
I find your husband's wildness disturbing -Leon Rom
As the creator of the character and author of 24 books on Tarzan, Edgar Rice Burroughs had a love / hate relationship with Hollywood. What has become the modern interpretation of Tarzan was not Burroughs vision for the man of the jungle, but will modern audiences be interested in this incarnation of the king go the jungle? The jury of popular opinion will make itself known, but if Burroughs were still alive, this would satisfy his vision of Tarzan.
Deep in the heart of Africa, King Leopold of Belgium has sent his representative, Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz) to the Congo Free State to pillage the riches of this uncharted land. In the process, the monarch amasses huge debts to many countries of the world, but in particular to England and the United States. The English government decides to approach Lord John Clayton / Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) and ask him to go as their nation's representative to the Congo, because of the personal request from Rom. After some deliberation, John Clayton decides to go back to his former homeland accompanied by his wife, Jane (Margot Robbie), and a US government representative, George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson). The trio searches out and eventually combats the crimes that the Belgian government and Rom are committing against humanity and nature in this reclusive African nation. With the aid of the his human and animal families, Tarzan must come to terms with his past and assist the people of the Congo to save their future.
Some may ask, why reintroduce this heroic, but wild figure now? Interestingly, it makes sense to have him swing back into contemporary cinemas on many levels. As audiences begin to suffer from superhero fatigue, there is still a need to cheer on strong moral heroes. This script provides a fresh spin on this flawed, but strong protector of the jungle. Also, with the use of computer generated imagery, there is a whole new level of wild adventures to take this character. Director David Yates (The last four Harry Potter films) has gone back to the Burroughs' story and given it a new spin that brings Tarzan roaring into this century. He successfully overlays this bush adventure upon an anti-slavery message without beleaguering the atrocities of the past. Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained) continues to prove that he is the quintessential villain and Samuel L. Jackson (The Hateful Eight) provides the right amount of humour to balance Skarsgård’s intense portrayal of Tarzan. These men are perfectly placed in their roles, but it is the relationship between Skarsgård and Robbie that makes this whole thing a worthwhile excursion. In staying true to the original story of John and Jane Clayton, this script provides a beautiful marriage between his lead characters. These robust characters and the solid special effects lift this new incarnation of the jungle man into the upper foliage and great option during the holidays.
What keeps The Legend of Tarzan from rising above the cinematic tree tops is the unbelievably of the primary premise? Tarzan’s story has been apart of folklore for over a century and is familiar to a multitude of generations. To roll his biographical sketch around in your mind brings forth more questions than plausible answers.
How did he learn all of the languages of the animals and the humans? Did he never break a bone? How did the shipwrecked parents get to the interior of Africa? How is he always clean shaven?
This is not a problem of the production team, but does cause this film to extend into the realm of the inconceivable. For viewers, the best remedy for this issue can only be to not think too hard or it will take away the enjoyment of the journey. This issue does not take away from the entertaining aspect of the film, merely keeps it in the good, but not great category. In the end, it is a breathtaking adventure and has the potential to re-introduce the Lord of the Apes to a new generation.
REEL DIALOGUE: What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?
Slavery, murder, theft, lying… all of these acts against humanity are addressed in The Legend of Tarzan in amongst a whole lot of jungle action. Yet, the question that comes to mid is, ‘How can this evil happen in our world?’ A question that has been around since the beginning of time. Fortunately, the Bible gives an answer to the question and a solution, too. The problem can be found in Genesis 3 and the answer comes in the middle of the Bible in four biographies of Jesus. If this is a question that you have, today might be a good day to grab a Bible and find the answers.
Where do you go in the Bible? Genesis (First book of the Bible) and Luke (About mid-way through the Bible)