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The Legend of Tarzan

The Legend of Tarzan: Swing and a Miss for the Lord of the Apes’ Latest Reincarnation

  • Alexander SkarsgårdChristoph Waltz...
  • Action & Adventure
  • David Yates
reviewed by
Marija Loncarevic
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The Legend of Tarzan: Swing and a Miss for the Lord of the Apes’ Latest Reincarnation

Unnecessarily complex and generally lacking in excitement, The Legend of Tarzan is the latest attempt to reignite interest into what still remains a household name. Unfortunately, the legendary fictional characters to exist fails to really register with modern movie audiences in part due an overly complicated and overstuffed premise which never managed to translate into entertaining spectacle it should be..

The film is set in 1980 and it begins several years after Tarzan (Skarsgård) – now going by John Clayton III – has decided to leave the jungles of Africa behind for a life as a British aristocrat, alongside his wife, Jane Porter (Robbie). However, he is soon drawn back into his former habitat when he receives an invitation from King Leopold II of Belgium to return to Congo as a trade emissary for the House of Commons.

Accompanied by American statesman, George Washington Williams (Jackson), the Lord of the Apes soon finds out that his travelling companion actually wants his help in investigating the rumours that King Leopold is using slave labour to colonise the country and exploit its resources.

After agreeing to the mission, Tarzan, Jane and Williams make their way to Congo but soon cross paths with Captain Leon Rom (Waltz); a ruthless leader in charge of overseeing King Leopold’s operations whose devious plan – involving tribe leader Chief Mbongo (Hounsou) – forces Lord of the Apes to strip back and return to his feral form.

Scripted by Adam Cozad and Craig Brewer, there are far too many illogical hurdles and obstacles thrown at the story which, when stripped down, is the kind of classic hero-coming-to-the-rescue tale you’ve seen before. Set against a flimsy premise, the film boasts a needlessly complicated and a confusing two-way narrative storyline;  one exploring the origins of our hero and the other celebrating his superhero abilities in a standard damsel-in-distress setup, all while trying to give weight to the plot with the real-life historic events involving Washington’s investigation into Leopold’s involvement in Congo during the 19th Century.

Directed by Harry Potter’s David Yates, the action sequences are executed well and there is a certain visual slickness in the effects. However, moments of less sophistication and a lack of creativity seep into the mix – the 3D is once again completely unnecessary – giving the movie a seemingly fake and unpolished feel.

Performance wise, all eyes are on Skarsgård, who proves to be a physically fitting choice for the role.  However, his inability to evoke many emotions proves to be rather damaging to the picture which, in the end, is not anywhere near as adventurous, funny or exciting as it thinks itself to be. 

Like This? Try

Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan (1984), Tarzan the Ape Man (1981), Tarzan and his Mate (1934)

360 Tip

Emma Stone was one of the first choices for the role of Jane, but eventually turned it down.

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