The Legend of Tarzan (2D)
Cert: 12A / 110 mins / Dir. David Yates / Trailer
There are reasons why Tarzan movies keep getting pitched, keep getting made and keep disappearing without trace. David Yates' The Legend of Tarzan is both an addition to that list of films, and embodiment of the reasons they flounder. At its core, this iteration of the king-of-the-swingers is an old-fashioned adventure, trying to force the square-pegs of modern sensibility into the round-holes of colonial swashbuckling. And all the Sam Jackson in the world isn't going to make it feel relevant to an audience who can't leave their phones alone for the run-time.
The film begins with John Tarzan having acclimated to London as Lord Greystoke with his wife Jane, when he receives a diplomatic invitation to return to the Congo-basin from the Belgian royal family. Then it turns out it wasn't the royal family after all but Captain Rom, played by a Christoph Waltz who seems to have forgotten that now he's been Blofeld, he's already reached 'peak villain-who-explains-his-diabolical-plot-at-every-turn'. So then John Tarzan has to take his shirt off and run around in the jungle to put things right. Standard.
Alexander Skarsgård is relatively passable as the titular hero, but only due to the amount of screen-time he gets as a result of his billing. Both Margot Robbie and Christolph Waltz look faintly embarassed (and well they should) as they try to inject some character into script-tropes who are anything but. Jackson, on the other hand, is having the most amount of fun earning his beer-money, even if his swaggering American Civil War veteran feels unbelievably anachronistic, reminding the audience with every witticism that they could be at home watching a Tarantino flick instead. By the time you incorporate a couple of Congolese tribes with varying degrees of Noble Savagery™ and the Belgian army consisting of largely inept cowards, the whole thing just feels like an awkward liberal-guilt trip.
But it's not just the storytelling, characterisations and conflicting values which let the film down. We also get some CGI gorillas which won't convince the crowd who watched Planet of the Apes or The Jungle Book, as well as a swinging-through-the-treetops sequence (as the gang attempt to board a moving train) with some of the worst greenscreen work in recent memory. And just for good measure there's a stilted "love scene" and a laboured "lick his nuts" joke which, while they may well have cleared the BBFC hurdles, feel woefully out of place for the tone of a 12A movie.
In summary, I'm not entirely sure who The Legend of Tarzan is aimed at; too 'modern' for the purists, too 'old' for the kids, too messy for fans of coherent screenwriting. I didn't actively dislike the film, but that's mainly because it's not really worthy of the effort.
Just because your source-material is 'classic', that doesn't mean it's timeless…
The Three Musketeers. Yeah. I went there.
Same performance from Waltz, too…
You might as well, since it'll lose even more impact by the time it hits your home-screen.
Not too much.
But a bit, yeah.
Level 1: Mace Windu's in it.
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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