Movie Review: The Legend of Tarzan


The Legend of Tarzan

There have been dozens and dozens adaptations of the famous books by Edgar Rice Burroughs, of which The Legend of Tarzan is the latest in line, and currently in theatres.

This version is a bit of a mixed bag. They do take a good amount of parts from the books, such as Jane Porter being an accomplished adventuress in her own right, rather than just a damsel in distress; and including the legendary city of Opar (without any of the actual literary back story and with different characters) and couple it to _some_ historic facts about the Belgian occupation of the Congo. With a _lot_ of fiction added in of course, because this isn’t a historical movie but a big budget Hollywood production. Which leads me to believe the money wasn’t entirely well spent as the CGI used for the creation of many of the animals is rather subpar. The mountain and jungle views, however, are stunning.

I won’t go into the plot, because as is a Gatehouse tradition, reviews are spoiler free (and will remain spoiler free), but what I will say is that casting is often times a bit doubtful. Alexander Skarsgard does an adequate job as Tarzan, and especially his return to his more feral nature of Tarzan from Lord Greystoke is pretty well portrayed. Margot Robbie is an admirable Jane, successfully portraying a strong female lead that feels like a real person. Samuel L. Jackson just isn’t at his best, even though he’s not exactly doing a bad job either portraying Tarzan’s companion George Washington Williams. Williams is one of the characters based of an actual person with the same name, and some of his actions in the movie are actual historical facts (so don’t click the name link if you don’t want spoilers!). Who really carries the movie, however, is Christoph Waltz as Léon Rom, the antagonist out to see his dastardly plans realised. Without Mr Waltz’ performance, the movie definitely wouldn’t be quite as enjoyable. Matter of fact, Léon Rom isn’t just a made up character but based on a real life historical Congo administrator. Other influences for the movie consist of the historical works King Leopold’s Ghost, so there’s indeed a good mix of history and fiction in this particular movie.

I’m aware that his has received quite a few bad reviews, but even though the plot felt a little forced in some places, I found it a fun watch. It’s also nice to see how they basically took the Tarzan books as well as King Leopold’s Ghost, mixed both up and gave their own twist to Tarzan whilst clearly having respect for the original. I also liked how they did their best to portray the fictional characters as close to the books as possible. But what I really enjoyed is that feel of adventure of classic Tarzan movie adaptations, the entire atmosphere. That sense of adventure that the books are famous for and that has made Tarzan such an iconic character in the first place. And that is exactly what a Tarzan movie should be in my opinion. So even whilst this isn’t the best movie adaptation with the best Tarzan (although let’s be fair, it’s hard to beat Johnny Weissmuller’s classic Tarzan), it’s still one worth watching at least once if you like the setting and character.

Leave a reply