Being a fan of the 1999 Disney animated film Tarzan, there was something about the trailers for this film that had me intrigued from the start. Films that revisit classic characters usually end up being a mixed bag. With The Legend of Hercules (2014) or Dracula Untold (2014), studios seem to have been banking on the name of the titular characters rather than focussing on an original way of telling their stories. With the release of The Legend of Tarzan, I had the same fear when going into the theater. While I am sure the studio was still banking on the title, this film is far better than I think it had any right to be, mainly due to it's devoted cast.
Alexander Skarsgård has been a name thrown around a lot in smaller films or supporting roles, but this seems to be his first big break, at least in my opinion. Playing off Margot Robbie as his wife Jane and Samuel L. Jackson as his right hand man in combat, he was able to have talent across the board, supporting his big screen appearance. Playing as more of a sequel/continuation of the classic storyline, I believe they did they best they possibly could with giving fans a glimpse of the story they love, while adding a new and exciting story. I had an absolute blast watching this film, but it is not without it's faults.
The Villain and the Effects
While I am one of the people who love to see Christophe Waltz in anything, I feel like he is starting to become the type-cast character that most over-used actors should fear. While Samuel L. Jackson is used in a different and more interesting way than he normally is, being the comedic relief at times, that is where Christophe Waltz traps himself. Driven by the capture and killing of the titular character, he is on a mission to destroy Tarzan. Kidnapping Jane as the Damsel in Distress and unleashing an army of men to take him down. There really is not much more to his character, which leaves no stakes. I did not care whether or not his character died, because it always seemed like Tarzan was one step ahead of him.
As far as the effects of this film goes, they were decent, but it was nothing to gasp over, especially when films made for far less money have better production values. With many noticeable green screen effects and animals that looked a little less than artificial, the visuals clashed with the plot of the film for me. Aside from these complaints, the film is a very clever take on the story that I will be very happy revisiting. By the time the climax hits, you care for the main characters and will find yourself forgetting about all of the effects on the screen.
The Finale and My Overall Thoughts
Djimon Hounsou plays Chief Bongo, and while he is not in much of the film, his side plot that connects to Tarzan is really the emotional core of the film and whether or not Tarzan is able to return back to the jungle after clearing up elements of his life from the past. The build-up through flashbacks that lead to a face-to-face fight was my favourite portion of this film and essentially laid the groundwork for this film as a whole. The finale of this film feels earned. Starting small in England, each action set piece gets larger and larger throughout the course of the film, making the conclusion less of a spectacle and more of a payoff.
Overall, I really enjoyed watching this film. Putting a nice spin on the classic character and introducing new ones, it is able to capture the essence of entertainment in a very fun way, making for a very fun film. The Legend of Tarzan is a far better film than I was expecting it to be, and that is saying something for this type of picture. It is clear that director David Yates took his time and cared about the source material and I believe it shows in the final product. Sure, the main story is something you have seen done before, but the film puts a nice spin on it and you never feel bored. So, is the film worth the price of admission and taking the time to see it in theatres? I would say yes, and then some. I did not expect I would be saying this, but it is very good.
Review By: KJ Proulx