The Legend of Tarzan is the second “jungle boy” remake to hit our screens this year, however, unlike The Jungle Book remake by Disney, it doesn’t quite hit the mark in every way. David Yates takes the remake in a interesting direction, focusing on Tarzan after he had left the jungle and tells some of Tarzan’s back story through flashbacks instead. This means that we are greeted at first with the British aristocrat Lord John Clayton III, who is also Africa’s famous son and saviour and a bit of a celebrity. The story really begins when John Clayton gets a invite to return to the Congo under a disillusion of a celebration, when instead it is to make him easier to kidnap by the film’s villain, Capt. Leon Rom, played by Christoph Waltz. Capt. Leon Rom has struck a deal with the tribe chief Mbonga who seeks revenge against Tarzan for the murder of his son.
Soon Tarzan, Jane and George Washington (Samuel L Jackson) are on board a ship to return to Africa, Tarzan and Jane in a nostalgic visit to their past and Washington to try and find evidence of the secret slave trade he suspects happening in the Congo. After a bodged kidnap attempt at a village they were visiting, while Tarzan remains free, Jane is taken by Capt. Leon Rom and used as bait to draw Tarzan just to where he needs him to be to complete his trade with Mbonga in return for the diamonds of Opar.
While they’re back in Africa we are shown how easy John Clayton can shed his British aristocratic skin and return to his Tarzan roots, where he prowess and legendary abilities are displayed in stunning fights with Gorilla’s (one being his “adopted” brother) and fights with Capt. Leon Rom’s men among others.
The story is a modern twist, and does provide a fresh take on the age-old story of Tarzan. At first the film felt a bit disjointed and almost like it didn’t know where it was going but once the story developed, and especially after they returned to Africa and you saw the real Tarzan, it became engaging and you were eager to see the end. Alexander Skarsgard does a great job portraying his version of Tarzan, and his tall, intimidating figure and huge hands (which are mentioned often in the film) seem too perfect for this role. Meanwhile Samuel L Jackson does a great job in providing some fun, comic relief as his supporting role and loyal friend to Tarzan, but although his character is a welcome addition, his side story seems a bit haphazardly tossed in as an after thought. Jane is played by Margot Robbie and her rendition of a slightly empowered Jane is interesting, but is left feeling a bit bland and under developed, however Margot and Skarsgard have some nice chemistry on screen which keeps their relationship much more compelling.
Overall the film was good, while rocky at the start it does come into it’s own once the story develops and Tarzan returns to the Congo. However the CGI and animation leaves much to be desired and really does offer a bit of a shortfall to the movie, especially when you consider how fantastic the animation in The Jungle Book was. But while an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours, you are left with the feeling that this is just another Tarzan movie that doesn’t quite manage to hit it out of the park.
The Legend of Tarzan
A legend returns
It's a interesting take on the well known story but you are left feeling that is falls a bit short. Definitely worth a watch, but it doesn't look likely to bring Tarzan to the favourites list any more than the other versions.