Here we go again, another rendition of the classic Tarzan story with all the characters you know doing all the things you love….. only this time IT ISN’T. I expected WB to go with the usual Tarzan story and have that be the centrepiece of the film, but in ‘The Legend of Tarzan’ they decide to go a completely different route to what i’d seen before. All of the young Tarzan stuff isn’t part of the main story here, all that stuff has happened and this takes place well later in time. So gotta give the film props for changing it up, but the result is still not that great. The film takes a while to get going, it was a very slow and uneven pace early on and i was quite confused for the first 15 minutes or so as to what was going on. It picks itself up later and finishes relatively strong all whilst still going the route you expect the film to go once you learn of the main plot. Character and performance wise i thought the film was relatively successful, Alexander Skarsgard was a good enough Tarzan/John Clayton, Margot Robbie was ok as Jane, Christoph Waltz was fine once again as a villain, and Samuel L Jackson was decent as sidekick no.1.
The biggest downfall for this film is the way the plot plays out and the way certain events are spaced out, also how certain scenes before/after are organised. So as a result, in terms of Tarzan-like action the first half of the film is quite light whereas the last third is pretty much what you came to see. Because this is set long after Tarzan became accustomed to human cultures you get a very civilised Tarzan for a fair amount of this film. Something i actually liked seeing for once, a fresh idea that didn’t pan out to be too bad. Skarsgard was good and was overall very serviceable as the character, fine playing a wealthy civilised human, and good enough as the tough ape-man. I only wish that by taking a different route with the plot it wouldn’t be predictable but it really does play out how you think it will. There are moments where the foreshadowing is so in your face that you just know in your head what will happen later and yep it does.
Margot Robbie as Jane was good, she fit the role well, seeing as though she was the damsel in distress, or the plot device giving Tarzan motivation to give a shit. Christoph Waltz was pretty much playing the Spectre villain from last year and was alright. Now Samuel L Jackson….. he was playing the guy accompanying Tarzan on his journey, and was really there for the comic relief…. ONLY the comic relief. I mean, the writers couldn’t even be bothered coming up with a reason for why the character needed to go with Tarzan everywhere… If Tarzan needed to go to that mountain, he would go too, “you’re gonna run over there? Well i guess i am too”. I don’t know, because he was quite funny and had one awesome moment, maybe two, but was not serviceable to the plot, so that was that. The apes and all the other animals in this film looked fantastic, great CGI work to make them look as real as possible, maybe not to the level of ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ but very very good. And the apes in this film were brutal, very menacing strong characters and was maybe my favourite element of the film. When they fought you really felt the strength behind every punch, and that did transfer over to Tarzan’s scenes as well which was cool.
So in the end this is a very different take on the Tarzan story you may be used to, whether it be the book, the Disney version or one of the other many films but it is most definitely not the superior one. It has its flaws with its pacing, being very back-heavy in terms of entertainment, and still having a relatively by the numbers plot despite it being different. The scenery and the CGI of Tarzan swinging through various landscapes was all done very well except for a few scenes here and there that weren’t great. It took me out of it a little but overall was fine. Being from the director of Harry Potter 5-8 David Yates, you do get that darker tone similar to those films so if you’re up for a more mature Tarzan then check it out.