The Legend of Tarzan

Say what?

I’ve seen dozens of Tarzan iterations over the years, but I was still confused trying to follow this one. What I think happens is that we start out meeting Tarzan as a gentleman in England, living as Lord Greystoke, the jungle far behind him. But then his government asks him to go back to the Congo to act as some sort of diplomat, and his beloved wife Jane follows him. Then we start with the flashbacks – to his infancy when his parents are lost and he becomes an adopted beast of the jungle, and also to his first wild meetings with Jane.

Things go badly for Lord Greystoke during his comeback tour. Evil Christoph Waltz is embroiled in slavery and blood diamonds, determined to make his 01-tarzan_w529_h352monarch extremely wealthy. To get to Tarzan, he of course kidnaps Jane. Christoph Waltz has played versions of the same character over and over since he won the Oscar for it in Inglorious Basterds. It doesn’t work here and hasn’t worked in a while, but he’ll keep getting typecast, and we’ll keep suffering. But there’s a trade-off: Samuel L. Jackson is our comic relief, and he’s almost too good at it, stealing scenes from Tarzan himself.

It seems like this Tarzan movie wants to modernize somewhat, with a social conscience, which is good, or at least would have been had Tarzan not been inevitably cast as the great white saviour, swinging from the trees.

It also wants to be a superhero movie with proper villains and ultimate fight sequences – but with Tarzan’s superpower and only weapon being his amazing 8-pack abs. People love to talk about those abs. Poor Alexander Skarsgard worked out 6-7 days a week for months while consuming 7000 calories a day, and then UPPED the workouts to  fourteen times a week while drastically cutting his caloric intake. Sounds brutal. I would be having veritable taco tarzan_1.jpghallucinations. But that’s 6 months or more perfecting his physique (and what was wrong with it to begin with, I wonder? He wasn’t exactly known for being a slouch), and maybe 10 days of memorizing his lines, and that’s “acting.” To be fair, Skarsgard isn’t really the problem here, but he’s also not much of a help. He’s surrounded by 2 Oscar winners and 2 more nominees. If Tarzan is the weak link in your Tarzan movie, your Tarzan movie’s got a problem. And as pretty as he looks, I did wonder how it was that Lord Greystoke, so long removed from the jungle, still had that amazing King of the Jungle body. Jane’s cooking must really suck. Were there even gyms in 1880s England?

I never stopped being frustrated by the hazy flashbacks – why does this feel like a sequel to a movie that was never made? And Skarsgard never found his footing. And Robbie remains a damsel, even though script writers covered their asses by pretending she was a little more feminist, the reality is that she spends most of the movie tied up. It’s too bad it’s not a better movie, but there’s never been a really good Tarzan movie, so why start now?


35 thoughts on “The Legend of Tarzan

      1. Jordan Dodd

        Yeah I never really liked him as a character either. They should make a movie about Samson, from the bible, he was only really strong when he had long hair. That’d be better than freakin Tarzan


    1. Jay Post author

      This seemed to confuse the story even more for me – the apes who kill his parents then adopt and raise him. It seems a weird thing to me, one that would breed hate and resentment rather than close familial feelings. But then he did have an uneasy relationship with his ape “brother” that was hinted at, so many they had their share of tense Thanksgivings, who knows.


  1. reocochran

    I thought I might have mentioned on Thursday or Friday that Felicia my youngest daughter was trying to talk me into this. I said we have to try something else. The plot line goes back and forth in time and since you love Margot Robbie, just know the love story and scenes are stale. All because of you! Thanks, Jay.


  2. Docthewho

    This film is just really odd, no one really wanted it, Tarzans story feels so out of place these days but hey it’s got a good cast at least – and Skarsgard looks great as Tarzan.


  3. kmSalvatore

    I have always been intrigued with Tarzan movies, since I was little..yep with Johnny Wisemiller. All the way back there:) on the boob tube. I’ve seen the commercials for this, and although brief.. It looks confusing.. Maybe that a ploy to reel us in? But I’m sure your right on the money.. You usually are:)!!!!



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