The Legend of Tarzan (12a)
Directed by: David Yates
Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Rory J. Saper, Margot Robbie, Samuel L Jackson & Christian Stevens
Running time: 1hr 50mins
The question that Warner Bros probably should have asked each other going into this was “Does the movie going public still care about Tarzan?” Let’s face it, he’s a dated character, one from an age gone by. Can he still be relevant? Yes, he’ll always have his fans, but how do you turn his story into a film with blockbuster (and more importantly, franchise) appeal for the potential fans of today?
Not like this, it turns out.
The Tarzan story you probably know has already happened – but that won’t stop them spending plenty of time really knocking home the origin story flashbacks – meaning we start things off with Tarzan and Jane settled, in their post-jungle lives in England.
The ball gets rolling quickly though, as there’s a whole fuss about the legality of the King of Belgium’s methods in running his part of the Congo. Christoph Waltz’s character has been sent by the king to take control of the area, whatever means necessary. That gets him tied up in a revenge plot that gets our story going, not really spending much time expanding the character’s motivations from there; Tarzan and Jane are off on their adventure, there’s a bad guy to stop, just tag along.
Alexander Skarsgård certainly looks the part, hitting us with his handsome brooding face as often as he can. And despite Jane’s protesting that she’s not just another damsel in distress, Margot Robbie spends a lot her screen time tied up and looking worried. Maybe a different twist on their relationship would have felt fresher; an ass-kicking Jane, anyone?
OH, and Samuel L Jackson is there too. He plays, well, Samuel L Jackson. He’s there to shoot some baddies and throw in the one liners, which miss way more than they hit, and his Sam Jacksonisms really take you out of it at times. Waltz is his usual moustache-twirling villainous self (this time quite literally) and he does – much like this film in general – exactly what you’re expecting from him.
As director, David Yates doesn’t quite capture the magic you know he’s capable of, and although it’s a competent film, you’re never quite laughing out loud, or fully sold by the actors’ chemistry, and the action looks good, but you’ve seen it a thousand times before, and done much more memorably.
Maybe it’s time to call it quits for Tarzan on the big screen for a while. Because surely a film this middle of the road is going to keep you from wanting another one more so than anything else.
2.5 out of 5 Nerds