David Yates – director of the last four Harry Potter films – latest film swung into cinemas earlier this month, and Legend of Tarzan is another in a line of mediocre adaptations of Edgar Rice Burroughs classic character.
This version we see the villainous Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz) luring John ‘Tarzan’ Clayton (Alexander Skarsgård) back to Africa, to capture him and bring him to also villainous Chief Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou) in exchange for rare stones and a lot of cash. Tarzan brings with him his wife Jane (Margot Robbie) and American George (Samuel L. Jackson) on his journey. Things go a bit wrong.
Jane – not wanting to be the damsel in distress – is captured by Rom, thus making her a damsel, who uses her to lure her into a trap. For her part, Robbie portrays Jane as very un-damsel in distress-y for someone who is very much in that situation. Her sparring with Waltz is some of the best dialogue in the film – and that was real spit too!
As Jane is captured, of course Tarzan and George follow on foot to get her back – with much swinging through trees and ape appearances. What is meant to be good action, flounders, though I have to confess, it was entertaining to see Skarsgård in the ripped trousers (not quite at loin cloth stage yet) and nothing more.
And that is pretty much it. Sure, there are flashbacks of how Tarzan was brought up in the jungle, his first meeting with Jane, a bit more depth added to Tarzan’s relationship with the tribe who adopted him as an equal and the reason why Mbonga wants Tarzan, as well as the subplot the King of Belgian planning to enslave half of the Congo.
What should have been its saving grace – the CGI animals, do not live up. Maybe The Jungle Book released earlier this year could be the reason why, as that film had amazing CG character animals that seemed to live and breathe as much as Neel Sethi did as Mowgli.
Jackson was – as always – much fun to watch. He can make even the cheesiest lines come off as funny. I feel like Waltz needs some more meatier roles though – and seeing him as another villain is a little tiring now. Skarsgård sadly (or maybe not so sadly) let his abs do the talking, when his natural charm and good acting skills he has shown many times before should have been what carried the film.
A fun watch, the film fell short of what have good been a good action or character film. I wonder what Tarzan will be doing next. Maybe/hopefully nothing