Tarzan is a character as old as time, it features a beloved story with a character that is adored by millions. Disney immortalized the name of Tarzan with their original animated film from 1999, however, it’s a story that didn’t only belong to Disney. Disney wasn’t the company that created this character, and so, everyone had full access to telling this story in their own way.
In 2016, Warner Bros. Pictures entered the scene with a live-action adaptation of The Legend of Tarzan, with director David Yates of Harry Potter fame involved, it seemed they were on the right track. Although, things aren’t always what they seem.
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The Movie Review
The story is a bit different here, it’s actually set almost a decade after Tarzan leaves the jungle. Now, Tarzan lives with his wife Jane in Victorian England and goes by the name John Clayton III. However, their life goes down a spiral when a man named Leon Rom devises a scheme to lure this young couple to Congo and to deliver John to an old enemy of his in exchange for valuable diamonds. So, Leon Rom kidnaps Jane and leaves John with no other option but to return to his roots of becoming Tarzan.
David Yates is a great director, we’ve seen his expertise firsthand in the Harry Potter franchise, and the first Fantastic Beasts movie. However, even a miracle worker cannot make a good film out of this lackluster script. Not only is the script boring and full of jarring dialogue that sticks out like a sore thumb, but it is also downright idiotic at points. The story did have potential, but the writing in the film shuts it down completely.
There are a few good things here, actually, the filmmaking elements aside from the script and the pacing are genuinely decent. The first thing that really captured me about this film was the cinematography. This is a visually pleasing film with a ton of emphasis on dark colors and color grading. It also fits well with the tone of the film which is quite dark itself, showcasing a lot of different themes such as racism, colonialism, and violence.
The other aspect that captivates you about this film is the acting, no matter how bad the script or the writing in the film gets, the actors are always giving their best. Alexander Skarsgard is pretty good as Tarzan, it’s not half as good as some of his other performances but he does a decent job. Meanwhile, you have powerhouses such as Christoph Waltz and Sam L. Jackson who deliver outstanding performances. Margot Robbie as Jane is also lovely in the film.
The film has great CGI as well, in particular, the apes look fantastic in this movie. It does look janky when it comes to things other than the apes at times, but for the most part, it does a great job and those moments are sparse. What’s better is that the CGI isn’t used too heavily during the action scenes, most of it is done practically and that makes it all the more fun to watch. The production in general is so well done that it doesn’t feel like the film is made out of plastic, it feels like the locations are actually there.
The soundtrack on the other hand is just bland. Rupert Gregson-Williams is a talented composer, but here it feels as if he was grasping for straws, not knowing what to do even. It’s the same repetitive instruments, and the same bland orchestral pieces repeated again and again. Even though the soundtrack does have decent action music, it’s forgettable at best.
To wrap this up in a mild way, The Legend of Tarzan is a film that had ambition but ultimately fails to deliver on almost every aspect of that ambition. It is a pretty film with a ton of entertainment, but take away the action and this might be the most boring thing you will ever watch. Not only are the characters underdeveloped, but the story itself is pointless and just a jarring take on a beloved character.
- Great acting
- Great visual effects and cinematography
- Awful pacing and bland story
- Boring soundtrack, forgettable and repetitive
- Direction doesn’t elevate the poorly designed script
- Terrible writing, the dialogue is horrible and the story has forgettable plot beats