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Tarzan: Sloppy Adaptation of Literary Classic

  • Anton ZetterholmJaime Ray Newman...
  • Action & AdventureAnimation...
  • Reinhard Klooss
reviewed by
Marija Loncarevic
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Tarzan: Sloppy Adaptation of Literary Classic

As one literature’s most enduring characters  – created by Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1914 – and with over eighty films, television series and animated features bearing his name, Tarzan is by far one of the most cherished and celebrated  fictional heroes of all time. 

The latest adaptation of the Lord of the Jungle’s story comes via a European and US collaboration that, unlike the majority of animated features, uses motion capture.

The story opens with the adventurous CEO of Greystoke Energies, John Greystoke (Deklin), who – along with his wife, Alice (Newman), and four-year-old son, JJ (Garner), discovers an ancient meteor crash-site located deep in the African jungle. Unfortunately, as they try to leave, their helicopter experiences technical malfunctions and crashes leaving the Greystokes dead and their young boy to be adopted by a troop of apes.

Time passes and Tarzan (Zetterholm) is shown living happily in his new habitat; by his teenage years, he’s swinging on vines and play fighting with his family of apes. Intrigued and fascinated by a young Jane Porter (Reaney), who is there visiting her father, Tarzan is quick to jump to her rescue after a she is bitten by a snake.

Several years later, a now adult Tarzan (Lutz) crosses paths with Jane (Locke) once more, as she returns with a mission to save the jungle from the malicious and ruthless William Clayton (St. John) –  the man who is now in charge of Greystoke Energies.  

The pair quickly bond, but Clayton’s plans to get his hands on the meteorite – and use its energies to control the world – soon gets in their way, ultimately sending the chest-pounding hero on a quest to save the girl and the jungle he calls home.

Based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ 1914 novel, Tarzan of the Apes, much of this latest adaption plays out like an odd and pretty outdated video game. Led by Twilight’s, Lutz – who comes in to voice Tarzan as an adult – seems  pretty apathetic and indifferent throughout, while Locke’s performance, as Jane the damsel-in-distress, is painfully rigid and impassive.

With three writers attached to the project, the film seems to fall foul of that old ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ adage, leaving director, Reinhard Klooss, little to work with. Though the film benefits from the strains of sci-fi and fantasy that are infused into it, the unrefined plot and the sleek-looking but poorly-constructed motion capture animation means that this adaptation falls well short of Disney’s beloved 1999 film.

Like This? Try

Tarzan (1999), The Jungle Book (1967), The Lion King (1994)

360 Tip

In the language of the fictional Mangani ape species of the novel, 'Tarzan' translates to 'white skin'. Now it all makes sense.

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