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The Legend of Tarzan

The Legend of Tarzan

Starring: Alexander Skarsgard, Christoph Waltz, Margot Robbie, Samuel L. Jackson, Djimon Hounsou (Rated M – 110 min).

The legend of the the orphan jungle boy raised by primates has literally been swinging into cinemas close to a century with the first ever adaptation of author Edgar Rice Burroughs fictional hero released 1918 in a silent movie.

There is something about components in the story, Greystoke Lord of the Apes, that obviously resonates onto the silver screen whether it be high adventure, true love or a sense of wonderment in protection of the animal kingdom. This latest version from veteran Harry Potter director David Yates is totally immersive during certain scenes including brilliant cinematography, immaculate special effects of the gorillas and the lovely Australian Margot Robbie as Jane suits the period clothing to perfection. Unfortunately much of the rest is ordinary. Tension mounts during the middle stanza, most notably during a man vs gorilla smackdown.

It is set during 1884 when King Leopold of Belgium plunders Africa sending troops to Congo in order to create an army by enslaving local tribes. Oscar winner Christoph Waltz as evil henchman Leon Rom goes in to strike a deal with Chief Mbonga (played effectively by the towering Djimon Hounsou) to mine diamonds until things go awry. This is no origin tale, there are a few flashbacks for those unfamiliar to the narrative.

Tarzan now living in posh castle surrounds with Jane is practically summoned back to the jungle to prevent the uprising Belgium army not only burning villages but destroying the environment. Following Jane and the loin cloth icon is an American statesman who serves little reasoning other than mostly unfunny comic relief. As much as I like Samuel L. Jackson in anything, his fish out of water character is not potent enough to be either amusing or serious, bit like the entire movie actually.

Alexander Skarsgard will draw breaths with his cut to supreme body but while it’s not entirely his fault, the acting all round comes across blank due to dumbed down dialogue. Better than it should be, I still thoroughly enjoyed watching it and only enticed me to rewatch my favourite three Tarzan films: Greystoke (1984), Tarzan and his Mate (1934), and Tarzan Escapes (1936).

Shane A. Bassett

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