Thursday, June 30, 2016

Movie Review: "The Legend of Tarzan"

More and more lately I am discovering a disconnect between myself and the vast majority of movie critics.  I have loved a lot of movies this year that they've hated, and that trend continues here with The Legend of Tarzan.  As far as live-action interpretations of Tarzan go, this and Greystoke are the two champs, with The Legend of Tarzan edging out Greystoke by a teeny bit.

The Legend of Tarzan is unique in that it's not an origin story.  While the origins of Tarzan are explored in a few flashback scenes (reminding me a lot of Batman Begins), the movie is really about John Clayton, Lord of Greystoke (aka Tarzan's real name and title).  Tarzan has been living in England with Jane for the past few years and has left the jungle behind him, but when he is asked to help expose a slavery ring in the Congo, he is drawn back to Africa.

Harry Potter director, David Yates, manages to breathe new life into Tarzan thanks to the modern technological wizardry that CGI enables.  The vast majority of this movie was all shot on sets in England, with pretty much all of the animals and African environments created by a computer.  This sells the reality of the story, much in the same way that The Jungle Book did a few months back.  Of course what really makes this movie resonant is not the craft on display, but the story between Tarzan and Jane.

Alexander Skarsgard and Margot Robbie portray Tarzan and Jane in this movie, and they actually make you care about these two characters.  Skarsgard plays Tarzan as a stoic gentleman trying not to be the animal he was raised to be, while Robbie portrays the feistiest Jane you've ever seen.  Then there's the charisma and humor of Samuel L. Jackson as real-life historical figure, Dr. George Washington Williams, who joins Tarzan on his quest to save the Congo.  Couple that with Christoph Waltz being Christoph Waltz as the bad guy, Leon Rom, and you've got a fun, emotionally resonant pulp adventure that Tarzan author, Edgar Rice Burroughs, would most likely be proud of.

When it gets right down to it, don't listen to the critics on this one.  Your enjoyment of The Legend of Tarzan all relies on how much you enjoy the idea of Tarzan in general.  If you think Tarzan is hokey, then this movie probably isn't for you, but there is nothing wrong with the movie itself.  The script is good, the movie is well directed, the cinematography and musical score are beautiful, and there are many well choreographed action sequences.  The bottom line is, if you have an affinity for the character, The Legend of Tarzan is the Tarzan movie you've been looking for.

I give The Legend of Tarzan an 8 out of 10!

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