I will not be happy until Margot Robbie is in everything, ever!
The Legend of Tarzan stars, Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood, Generation Kill), Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street, Suicide Squad), Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained, Spectre), Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, The Hateful Eight) and is directed by David Yates (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 & 2).
John Clayton (Skarsgård) now lives in London, among society until George Washington Williams (Jackson) comes to him with bad news about his homeland. Clayton has to return to the jungle where he was born, save his old friends and become Tarzan again.
I’m not the biggest Tarzan fan, I love the Disney’s 90s animated film but outside of that, I’m not too familiar with the characters history. I mean, from what I can remember Clayton was the villain in the 90s Tarzan but in this he is Tarzan. Anyway, I went into this film hopeful it could be something great, with the cast and David Yates directing and although it’s not bad, it had a lot of potential to be better. There are positives to discuss in this film, so lets get into them.
The cast came very close to being perfect. There’s one cast member I wasn’t into but other than that everyone is really solid. Alexander Skarsgård is great as Tarzan. I guess he doesn’t have to do much except have long hair and look huge but that’s all the character calls for. Samuel L. Jackson almost steals the shows. This character has been very divisive with fans and critics and I fell on the side of finding him hilarious. He brought levity to a film that’s actually very serious and I liked how his relationship with Tarzan developed. There’s a few other good performances but one other big one, I really enjoyed.
Margot Robbie is having an awesome year. She is stealing every film she appears in. Obviously she was excellent in Suicide Squad, she was a standout in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (reviewing that hidden gem soon) and now she was my favorite aspect of The Legend of Tarzan. Robbie is a throwback to the golden age of cinema, she has a magnetism and presence like a Garland or Hepburn. She plays the perfect Jane and although it may not be the most progressive female character, you can’t deny Robbie does everything she possibly could to make Jane strong and likable.
What I really liked in this film and wished was incorporated more, is the silliness. Tarzan was raised by apes and talks to animals, it’s not exactly Schindler’s List. There are some nice moments with Tarzan interacting with animals and the way he uses them for his advantage. In the third act it gets ridiculous and I loved it. The Legend of Tarzan for the most part is too serious but when it allowed itself to have fun with the concept of Tarzan, was when it shined the brightest.
I wasn’t expecting Dawn of the Planet of the Apes quality CGI but I thought the effects would be better. Primarily it was the Apes that didn’t look that great and the rest of the CGI was inconsistent. There were some crocodiles that looked horrible but some lions that were cool, wildebeest (I think) that were sloppy but pretty decent elephants. The scenery however was beautiful to look at.
This film is building to a confrontation between Tarzan and the rival tribe leader. It falls flat. Djimon Hounsou, whom is wasted, plays the leader of the tribe but does nothing. He’s used as a plot device to get Tarzan back to the Kongo and then when it finally gets to him, he’s an obstacle in the way of the story, so they blast right through the confrontation and move on. I was excited to see this fight (despite Hounsou’s villain being underdeveloped) but it was really anticlimactic and sucked all the energy out of the film.
Another disappointment was the relationship between Tarzan and the apes. In the animated film, there’s a strong friendship and love between Tarzan and his ape family, you feel that so it got emotional at times. Maybe it’s because Tarzan doesn’t literally speak to the animals in this film but I didn’t feel a connection between Tarzan and his ape mother and friends. As well as there being no connection, again the fight between Tarzan and the ape leader is weak. It was probably as realistic as you can get with a human fighting a gorilla, with it still being slightly competitive but like most of this film, I think I would have enjoyed this fight more if it was outrageous and stupid. I’m a sucker for animals in films, so it’s actually an achievement that they didn’t get me invested in the animal storyline.
Finally I have to touch on Christoph Waltz. I love this dude, I think he’s one of the most talented actors ever but for some reason only when he works with Tarantino. I don’t know if he needs a new agent or if it’s just bad luck but the roles he takes are always the exact same. It’s not that he’s bad in this film but I’ve seen him play this character before… a lot. He’s a quiet yet intimidating, well spoken, European bad guy. I’m rooting for ya Waltz but with this film you’ve become completely redundant. It’s time to call Quentin.
I enjoyed the two hours I spent in this world. Will I ever watch those two hours again? Probably not but I’m more than open to a sequel with this cast. They’ve set up the characters and the world, now we just need a good film to put them into, wait, this was made by Warner Bros… anyone else starting to see a huge trend in their blockbuster films?
Have you seen The Legend of Tarzan and what did you think of it?