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Review: The Legend of Tarzan

Alexander Skarsgard stars in Warner Bros. Pictures' THE LEGEND OF TARZAN

It seems as if many of us have taken a stance of indifference toward the latest version of Tarzan. That could be false, but the buzz for The Legend of Tarzan has essentially been nonexistent. It’s not a good sign for Warner Bros., but what’s even worse is that they apparently were hoping to build a franchise out of this. And based on what I watched, that’s highly unlikely.

It’s been about nearly a decade since Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) left the jungles of the Congo behind. Since then, he’s successfully assimilated to British society and is now goes by his birth name of John Clayton III. Life has been harmonious for he and Jane (Margot Robbie), but a little adventure re-enters their universe after he becomes a pawn in a deadly game that pulls him back to the African jungles he used to call home.

The Legend of Tarzan is a strange movie to try to use as a franchise starter since the lead character turns out to probably be the most irrelevant main character seen in the movie. In my opinion, it’s important to get the audience interested in the main guy since he’s the one we’re supposed to be following into the future. Instead, much of the focus is on Margot Robbie’s Jane and Samuel L. Jackson’s George Washington Williams.

Here, Tarzan can barely be considered an actual character. That’s mainly due to him having very few lines and even less personality. Margot Robbie and Samuel L. Jackson literally have more to do and more to offer than he does. Investing this much financially into something like this can’t be perceived as intelligent if you’re going to turn the protagonist into a secondary character in his own movie.

During his time on the screen, Tarzan does little more than impersonate a cardboard cutout of a male model with a chiseled physique. This makes it seem as if everyone else is in a movie while he’s here for some kind exotic photo shoot in the wild. For much of his time in front of the camera, he’s literally there to pose and look manly while a living, breathing world moves around him.

Aside from their misuse of Tarzan himself, you’ll find that the pacing is off largely due to the constant back and forth between scenes set in the past and the present. It’s also thrown off-balance whenever we have to visit Margot Robbie’s Jane as she’s being held captive by Christoph Waltz and his clan. Wanting to give her something to do is understandable, but they would have been better served putting that kind of emphasis on their supposed main character instead.

We know that Robbie is a much bigger star than Skarsgård, but nobody cares about Jane. Watching her basically portray a mischievous child causing trouble for her captors/babysitters and constantly telling them that her husband going to save wasn’t the way to go. People who are interested in seeing this would be coming to see this in order to watch Tarzan do what Tarzan does. Since that’s true, you needed to give them what they wanted.

As it turns out, the only interesting thing about The Legend of Tarzan is seeing Samuel L. Jackson star as Samuel L. Jackson. By playing the characters he’s played in plenty of other films over the years, Jackson manages to entertain in a few ways, but outside of that, I can’t think of a reason to suggest this to anyone. Maybe if you want to ogle at Margot Robbie’s beauty or Alexander Skarsgård’s abs, but then again, you can do that with a simple search on the internet.

The Legend of Tarzan fails to inspire or even engage. Coming at something from an odd perspective disrupts and destroys any chance you may have to build off of a character that had a good following at one point. It doesn’t matter if you put nearly a couple hundred million into its budget. As a matter of fact, that should make you want to be even more focused on turning movies like this into a success. Warner Bros. has to be smart, take advantage of what they have and stop wasting money on movies like this and Batman V Superman.

Rating: PG-13

Director: David Yates

Alexander Skarsgård
Samuel L. Jackson
Margot Robbie
Djimon Hounsou
John Hurt
Jim Broadbent
Christoph Waltz

Film Length: 109 minutes

Release Date: July 1, 2016

  • Score - 3/10
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