Sunday, July 3, 2016

Movie Review: The Legend of Tarzan

From the director of the final Harry Potter films, David Yates, Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) swings onto the scene as a refined British gentleman having made it out of the Congo and married his love, Jane (Margot Robbie). Once Tarzan, he now goes by his British name John Clayton and doesn't want to return to the jungle until George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson), an American activist, convinces him that slavery is being perpetrated on the people of Africa.

Very early on, it is shown that Tarzan is being lured to the Congo by the conniving Belgian diamond miner and war monger Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz) in order to make a deal with Chief Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou) leader of a tribe. The plot jumps back in time making this movie serve as both an origin story and a sequel to the original story of when Tarzan met Jane. Despite veteran actors, all of the acting is just these people going through their routine, Waltz doing a proper foreign villain, Skarsgård doing smoldering, six-pack, sexy, Robbie doing sassy and tough, and Jackson doing funny one-liners while serving as the moral compass. 

The action is hard to watch with lots of cuts and poor editing making some of the battles nearly incomprehensible until the mist or foliage clears away to see the victors. I was looking forward to some animal battles but they were all very similar and didn't quite compare to the visual feast of The Jungle Book out earlier this year. The movie couldn't even match its cartoon predecessor that had the cool surfing and sliding across trees. The swinging here was fun but loses its charm after a bit and with shoddy camera work makes it hard to enjoy.

The film did try to turn away from the old story that triumphed colonialism and made an African white savior but in the end that is the story of Tarzan so it can't totally pull away from its roots. The climax was spoiled from the multiple trailers that had pimped this image out because there isn't much else to offer from the images onscreen. 

In the end, the movie looks to be a bit confused trying to decide if it wants to start a new franchise or stand alone as a remake of a classic tale. If the box office is any indication, the crew won't be returning to the Congo as Tarzan did but then again it had to face the blockbuster Finding Dory, which might be the highest grossing movie of the year. For live-action fare, it wasn't all bad but audiences will have to be forgiving of a few blunders to really have fun in this movie. 

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