The Legend Of Tarzan Turns A Classic Hero Into A Superhero
The Legend of Tarzan is Edgar Rice Burroughs meets Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. In it, Alexander Skarsgard plays a feral child raised by African great apes who grows up to speak posh English without a trace of an ape accent. You may know him as Tarzan, but in his new life in London he’s John Clayton, Viscount Greystoke. Until (dun-dun-duuuuuun!) an American Civil War veteran (Samuel L. Jackson) shows up to entice him back to Africa with the promise of saving a nation from an evil brewing in Belgium.
Of course, the story of Tarzan is a classic, and director David Yates (the filmmaker behind a handful of Harry Potter movies, including the forthcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) manages to put his own spin on it, adopting an aesthetic (for the fight scenes at least) that appears to be inspired by movies like 300, or something out of Marvel’s studio.
Do we need another movie about an imaginary superhuman white guy doing what an entire nation of black people can’t—that is, save themselves from a bunch of other white people? It’s a problem—especially considering the history of conflict in the Congo.
If you can summon your own Tarzan-like strength and push those issues aside, you’ve got yourself a decent summer action flick. Impressively, the 180-million-dollar Legend of Tarzan was shot almost exclusively inside Warner Bros’ London, UK studio with a six-week stint in Gabon to shoot background footage. Yet it feels like the actors are in Africa from start to finish. The CG animals—lions, apes, elephants, hippos, and ostrich—are well done. Maybe not The-Jungle- Book-good, but solid and real-looking. Much like Skarsgard’s abs, which might also be CG. (How does a human being make their body look like Ben Affleck’s Batsuit? Diet of whole raw chickens and 72-hour workouts?)
As always, Christoph Waltz is great as the bad guy, but Margot Robbie, playing a Jane written, refreshingly, to be tough-as-nails, struggles to hold her own in their scenes together (and there are many—he holds her captive for three-quarters of the film).
Apart from Waltz, the best reason to see this movie are the wild animal pro tips Skarsgard delivers with deadpan humour. FYI: hippos are scary-fast swimmers, no one rides zebras because they’ll kick you to death, and an ostrich will happily disembowel a man with its beak if it feels threatened.
The Legend of Tarzan is in 3D and 2D theatres July 1. Watch the latest trailer below.