In Brief: Tarzan may rule the jungle and might even rule the box office after this weekend, but his movie is so-so.
The Legend of Tarzan is the latest installment of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ fabled vine-swinging hero. Tarzan turned 100 in 2014. During that 100 years there have been around 50 movies and I know of at least one TV show. And since his inception, the guy has seen everywhere from silent films and animated films, to live action black and white flicks, to this CGI soaked spectacular.
Johnny Weissmuller is best known and the best of the Tarzans but he’s also been done by a dozen others. The Legend of Tarzan’s Alexandar Skarsgard (Battleship) sits somewhere in the middle of the pack. He’s not bad but he’s not good either.
Blame that on an awful script.
Exploiting the Congo’s riches has put the king of Belgium heavily in debt. Needing more money, he sends henchman Leon Rom to Africa to find a major source of diamonds. It’s protected by a native tribe that paint themselves ghostly white. Their chief is willing to part with the diamonds if Rom will deliver hated enemy Tarzan into his hands.
To lead Tarzan there, Rom grabs Jane and the chase is on.
The Legend of Tarzan wastes a great cast. Skarsgard is the most buff Tarzan of them all but other than running, swinging on vines and fighting, doesn’t have much to do. You can’t find a better villain than Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained). He doesn’t have much to do either. Also excellent is the lovely Margot Robbie’s (Whisky, Tango, Foxtrot) whose Jane is more than just eye candy. Wrapping up the cast is Samuel L. Jackson who only purpose — it seems — is to toss off preachy lines.
The film starts slow, stays slow and before imploding with a lame, predictable climax.
The Legend of Tarzan is directed by David Yates who did the last of the Harry Potter movies. It’s written by Craig Brewer who penned and directed the pimp flick Hustle & Flow and Black Snake Moan. He also wrote the latest Footloose.
Tarzan is 180-degrees the other direction and Brewer is clearly out of his element.
Not once do you worry that Tarzan, the beautiful Jane, or any of the main characters are in the slightest bit of danger from humans or the sometimes badly done CGI animals. Missing — and what really helps adventure films — is a sense of humor.
So instead of generating a few laughs and a good time, The Legend of Tarzan is laughable and ends up a legend in its own mind.
Director: David Yates
Stars: Alexandar Skarsgard, Christoph Waltz, Margo Robbie, Samuel L. Jackson
Rated PG-13 for mature themes. Tarzan’s traditional yell is a bit flat and gets The Legend of Tarzan a 2 on the Average Joe Movie 0 to 5 scale.
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5 to 4 1/2: Must see on the big screen.
4 to 3 1/2: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 to 2 1/2: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 to 1: Don’t bother.
0:Speaks for itself.
Gary Wolcott has been a movie consultant for KXL since 2014. A lifelong fan of film, he’s been a film critic in radio, television and newspaper for 25-years. Wolcott catches a couple of hundred movies a year and he sees a great many of them so you don’t have to.
Got a movie suggestion or comment? Email him!