By Darlene Donloe
The Legend of Tarzan, in theaters nationwide today, is a cinematic wonder. The vast and luscious cinematography is like an additional character in the movie. An all-new action adventure, this isn’t your momma’s Tarzan.
Edgar Rice Burroughs’ iconic character has been a favorite for decades. Many buffed actors have taken on the character, but none as dramatically and lovingly as Olympic swim star Johnny Weissmuller, who made swinging from the trees popular.
Up next in the role is Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood) whose re-imagined portrayal of the man brought up in the jungle by apes – is fresh and effective. Noticeably abset is the loin cloth. Instead, Tarzan dons some short pants. Bummer!
That being said, the movie still plays as if Tarzan is the Great White Hope for the black savages in the jungle. It’s as if Tarzan freed the slaves.
The movie is laced with symbolic, colonial underpinnings.
It seems as if they threw in Samuel L. Jackson’s character to balance out the Tarzan aspect. The entire movie is a product of colonial times.
Still, there are some good performances from an impressive cast. A sculpted Skarsgard fills the screen as does Christoph Waltz, Djimon Hounsou and Margot Robbie. Jackson brings the levity, stealing every scene in which he appears.
The story is presented with the first half taking place in Victorian England where Tarzan is really John Clayton III, Earl of Greystoke.
Alexander Skarsgård is Tarzan
It’s been a decade since Clayton has spent time in the jungle. He’s gotten quite used to the big city. He was, after all, a rich kid at one time. He was raised by the apes in the jungle after his parents deaths. Tens years removed from the jungle, Tarzan, whose identity is widely known, is called into service by King Leopold of Belgium and must return to the jungles of the Congo. The king wants to show off the wonderful things he has done since occupying Clayton’s former home in the Congo. Unfortunately for Clayton/Tarzan, it’s all a lie perpetrated by Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz), who will get paid with the much sought after diamonds of Opar if he brings Tarzan back to the jungle to be killed by the tribal chief Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou), who is seeking revenge.
At first Clayton turns down the request. However, George Washington Williams (Jackson) convinces him it’s the right thing to do. Clayton/Tarzan returns and it doesn’t take long for him to get into the swing of things (pun intended).
He must first fight his big ape brother to prove he’s worthy to come back to the jungle.
There is lots of action and adventure. There is also a touching love story between Clayton/Tarzan and Jane, who is a pistol. Margot Robbie inhabits the role of Jane – showcasing strong acting chops and physicality.
Oh, and lets not forget the apes. Kudos to the apes, who are sufficiently menacing, but are obviously digital.
Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, a Jerry Weintraub Production, a Riche/Ludwig Production, a David Yates Film, The Legend of Tarzan. Directed by David Yates (the last four Harry Potter films), the film stars Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street), Oscar nominees Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, the Captain America films) and Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond, Gladiator), with Oscar winner Jim Broadbent (Iris), and two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained).
On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (oh, yeah) and E (excellent), The Legend of Tarzan gets an O (oh, yeah).