Welcome to the Jungle: Tarzan’s less than Legendary Return

At the urging of my wife I finally watched The Legend of Tarzan (I’m sure her interest had nothing to do with Alexander Skarsgård’s killer abs) and you know what – I actually had an okay time with it.

And here I am writing this post and here you are reading it. Life’s funny that way. Here’s my mildly spoilery review in five easy to chew slices:

#1 Guess who’s back

You take the ones on the left…

Few characters are as old and iconic as Edgar Rice Burroughs’ ape-man Tarzan and he has been adapted many, many times in a variety of formats. So props to the producers and writers of Legend that they actually brought something new to the table.

Instead of the age old origin story – baby lost in jungle raised be apes, baby grows up to be wild jungle man, wild jungle man meets girl and so forth – we meet a Tarzan who left the jungle and Africa behind years ago. He has traded his funky jungle treehouse for a towering Victorian castle, his loincloth for a dapper suit, and goes by the name John Clayton III, Lord of Greystoke, Third of His Name and Father of Gorillas (one or two of those may be incorrect). He reluctantly returns to Africa because his darling wife Jane wants to see home again and to possibly uncover a slave trade in the Congo. And Skarsgård does a great job of bringing the physicality and otherworldliness of the character to life.

#2 Jungle buddies

Just tell me the truth Tarzan, is the black man goin’ die?

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Samuel L. Jackson was in this movie. I didn’t recall seeing him in the trailers and they definitely did not market him. Anywho Jackson plays real life historical figure George Washington Williams and he is the one who suspects that King Leopold of Belgium is enslaving the Congolese people.

Skarsgård and Jackson have a buddy cop thing going with Tarzan being the seasoned jungle farer and Williams being completely out of his depth though a mighty good shot. A lot of the comedy derives from the fish out of water antics but it is hit and miss. And the chemistry between the two does seem a bit off making one hugging scene feel unearned.

#3 Ain’t nuthen but mammals

You smell just like my first girlfriend. She was a fox. Not sexy like a fox. An actual fox

You can’t have a Tarzan movie without a Jane and for this trip we get the lovely Margot   Robbie who’s all fire and warmth like a good hearth. And while she and Skarsgård together look like a sexy perfume ad the two are happily married and their romancing just seems perfunctory.

One way they could have avoided this was to have Jane remain in Africa and then Tarzan return. Then we would see the two rekindle their fiery jungle passion. That would have been way more interesting than what we got here.

#4 A Wasted Waltz

So is he man or monkey?

I love Christoph Waltz and he has been fantastic in every role I have seen him. But, as also happened in last year’s James Bond flick Spectre, when he is given a bad guy role with not a lot to do there is not much to hoot and holler about.

In Legend his villain is wonderfully understated, devious but with a touch of sophistication. His scenes with Robbie are alright but overall writing and the plot just wastes his immense talents. And that is most unfortunate.

#5 It’s a Jungle in here

Come on! Stop being a big baby. You’ve been putting off this shave for months

My biggest gripe with Legend is that they tried to do too much in one movie. When you are focused on Tarzan/John returning to Africa and reclaiming his identity then you have the slave trade stuff, then his relationship with his adopted ape brother, then a tribal king out for revenge while jumping back frequently to see the entire origin story in flashbacks. It is just too much. I will give them points though for presenting the Africans in a respectful manner.

And while I liked the practical action scenes, Skarsgård really does feel like a jungle superhero, the over reliance on CGI for the vine swinging and tree climbing completely took me out of the experience and snuffed out any thrills to be had. In conclusion I was glad they tried to do something new with Tarzan and they delivered an okay action movie but it was muddled by too many plots and never reached anywhere near legendary status.

Rating: The Legend of Tarzan gets 2.5/4 extremely loud ape-man jungle calls.

So have you seen The Legend of Tarzan? Was it gorilla great or monkey crap? Feel free to comment below.

For my Suicide Squad review you can click here and for my Me Before You review you can click here. And for more marvelous movie reviews (with or without killer abs) you can check back redmangoreviews for new posts Monday to Saturday or follow me on Twitter @suprememango012 for updates.

Julien is outie like a navel. l8rs



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