Film Review: The Legend of Tarzan

Film Reviews copy

Legend of Tarzan

Amazon Synopsis: It has been years since the man once known as Tarzan (Skarsgård) left the jungles of Africa behind for a gentrified life as John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, with his beloved wife, Jane (Robbie), at his side. 

Now, he has been invited back to the Congo to serve as a trade emissary of Parliament, unaware that he is a pawn in a deadly convergence of greed and revenge, masterminded by the King of Belgium’s envoy, Leon Rom (Waltz). 

But those behind the murderous plot have no idea what they are about to unleash.

 

Film: Legend of Tarzan

Director: David Yates

Date: 2016

My generation grew up with Disney narrating the familiar stories: Cinderella, The Jungle Book, Tarzan… We were used to soft and cuddly animals that would burst into song before they would harm the main characters.

The last few years have seen a few changes. Nearly all of these old films have been redone as live action films. Having seen The Jungle Book not that long ago and being thoroughly impressed (if a little freaked at times!), I was eager to see The Legend of Tarzan.

Part of me was apprehensive. There were some full-on scenes in The Jungle Book, especially the final fight, that I personally believed went beyond the film’s rating as a PG. Tarzan, however, is rated at a 12 and I wasn’t sure how far it would go.

Rather than following Tarzan in the jungle, we are first introduced to him as a civilised man, Lord Clayton. But when he is lured back to the jungle under false pretences, he must let go of civilisation once again in order to rescue his beloved wife, Jane.

It’s nearly impossible to take the wild out of something born to it.

It seemed to work with you. Look. I feel foolish for asking, but… Can you really talk to animals?

You’re an educated man, Dr Williams. You tell me.

Quite a lot of time passes in the film before the name Tarzan is even mentioned. As I said earlier, I grew up with the Disney version, in which Clayton is the villain. As such, I literally spend the first half an hour of the film wondering what on earth was going on.

Part of this confusion stemmed from the slow pace to the opening. There is a lot of talk and castles set in the countryside with the gentry talking about politics. Here I was, believing I was supposed to be watching Tarzan!

Tarzan’s story is revealed through flash-backs. Talk about a traumatic childhood! There are no Disney songs of love and belonging – Tarzan is effectively a victim of abuse from a father-figure. Admittedly, said figure happens to be a gorilla, and you don’t mess with those guys!

But as well as the violence a young Tarzan endures, the dangerous and animalistic side to the creatures – even the hippos – is revealed. Yes, this makes it more realistic. But I still wonder whether a twelve-year-old would get a little scared of a giant gorilla taking a bite out of Tarzan, or Jane nearly being eaten by hippos!

Can CGI animals be too realistic? There is no denying the attention to detail in the film is extraordinary. But for some reason, I couldn’t let myself believe they could be real. Perhaps the detail was too great, or the precision of their movements too spot-on? While in The Jungle Book, I felt the animals were extremely well done, the ones here always felt, to me at least, like they were CGI. It’s difficult to explain!

Overall, I enjoyed this film. I believe the pacing needed to be faster in the beginning to prevent confusion and parents should think twice if their 12-year-old has any animal phobias. It’s not the Tarzan I’m used to, but that didn’t prevent it from being an enjoyable, action-filled film!

Amazon | HMV

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