It’s not nearly as bad as I thought it would be, but not nearly as good as it needs to be.
Alexander Skarsgard stars as Lord John Clayton – the most famous member of the British House of Lords because he was adopted by gorillas in the Congo and raised to be one of them after his parents died. Word spread of this fantastic tale as he became known as Tarzan.
However, after returning to London and assimilating himself back into society, the British government and a U.S. envoy to Great Britain, George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson), have asked him to accept an invitation from the Belgian king to travel, once again, to the Congo.
Williams wants Clayton to help determine if the Belgians illegally are enslaving the Congolese people, while the entire invitation is a ruse to lure Clayton back, so an evil Belgian emissary, Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz), can gain access to a treasure trove of diamonds by delivering Tarzan to an old rival, Chief Mbonga (I know that all sounds complicated, but that’s about as complex as the movie gets).
Will Tarzan survive this journey home?
Will he be able to save Jane (Margot Robbie) when she gets caught up in this mess?
The Legend Of Tarzan has some great moments and plenty of bland ones, which makes it an average movie.
Director David Yates and editor Mark Day tremendously interweave the current story we are following with scenes from the past to help the audience learn the background that is so important and referenced so many times. This non-linear way of telling the story helps Yates immediately grab our attention by establishing the main plot up front, while filling in the blanks and explaining what all of the characters know about Tarzan, since so many moviegoers are not of an age where they know the Tarzan story.
Yet, sadly, the most animated acting we see in the movie comes from the CGI animals, instead of Robbie or Skarsgard. Robbie is a solid actress and takes advantage of the moments when we get to see Jane’s spunky side, so you can’t fault her if the movie gets a bit heavy or Yates wants to make her character more sober.
However, Skarsgard has got to kick it up a notch. He obviously spent hours and hours in the gym to be the most ripped actor of the year, but they don’t give out an Oscar for Best Abs (just ask Channing Tatum). At times, Tarzan needs to be very somber, sober and stoic, but many of the climactic portions of The Legend Of Tarzan scream out for Skarsgard to be more energetic, more emotional and more compelling.
Jackson and Waltz make up for his shortcomings as Jackson delivers both the comic relief side of Williams as well as the righteousness and indignation that is required, while Waltz makes Rom a great villain by combining weeniness and moments of cold, calculating evil.
The Legend Of Tarzan has a fantastic set up and a strong plot, but it drags too much, which saps the energy out of the audience.
2 Waffles (Out of 4)
The Legend of Tarzan is rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, some sensuality and brief rude dialogue.