The Legend of Tarzan (2016) – Film Review
Director: David Yates
Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson
by Anel Blazevic
So, in the age of the superhero movie, what do you do with a century-old pulp fable? Especially one full of dodgy historical overtones and a back catalogue of mostly dreadful soap opera movies and even worse remakes? Why, you make a superhero movie, of course.
At least, you feel Harry Potter director David Yates thinks he is making a superhero movie. Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard) is souped-up, made-over and abb-ified for the 21st Century. But, strangely, he remains the rather bland and humourless character you’ll recall from the vaults of your movie minds.
The plot follows the civilised Tarzan, now Lord of Greystoke or, more prosaically, John Clayton. The once-Lord of the Jungle is recalled to Africa to investigate the brutish Belgian colonisation of The Congo. Enter Christoph Waltz as Leon Rom in trademark slimeball mode. He is a sinister, diamond-hungry henchman of Belgian King Leopold II. Clayton, now stripped down to only tattered shorts and a phenomenal six-pack, attempts to put a crowbar into Rom’s exploitative money-making machinery.
“Unexpectedly engaging reboot”
The simple action-adventure pleasures of the film rub against the moralising anti-colonisation and slavery themes, with neither really winning out. The action is good, the drama is good (particularly when Waltz is involved), but combined they are an awkward, abrasive mix.
The CGI animals are up to recent Planet of the Apes standards, although Tarzan’s ability to converse with every jungle animal is somewhat clunky and requires a few suspensions of your disbelief.
Every film-going generation gets their own Tarzan, and this one is an unexpectedly engaging reboot, free from cliche and bordering on the epic. Well worth two hours of your time.