The Legend of Tarzan (12A) | Close-Up Film Review


Dir. David Yates, US, 2016, 110 mins

Cast: Alexander Skarsgard, Margot Robbie, Samuel L Jackson, Djimon Hounsou, Christoph Waltz

I think some people are being rather snooty about this film. Although it is directed by David Yates who made the final four Harry Potter films, The Legend of Tarzan was never going to be a highbrow cultural event.

With flashbacks showing the early life of Tarzan, how he was discovered and brought up by apes in the jungle, we now see Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard) as a grown man in the 1800s. He is John Clayton, Lord Greystoke (Alex, with a seat in the House of Lords, living with his American wife Jane (Margot Robbie) – yes, that one from the jungle – happy, except they have no children. When asked to go back to the jungle are to see what King Leopold 11 of the Belgians is doing in the Belgium Congo, particularly in relation to slave labour, John’s initial answer is “No.” The chief mover to get John back to the Congo is not the Prime Minister (a neat cameo by Jim Broadbent) but George Washington Williams (Samuel L Jackson).

Tarzan, Williams and Jane (who also goes with them) find Africans in chains being used as slaves. The little group also come across King Leopold’s emissary, the tracherous Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz) who hopes to hand John over to his old enemy, Chief Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou) in return for diamonds.

For younger members of the audience who only know the Tarzan of the legend, banging his chest, howling and saying “Me Tarzan, you Jane”, this film will give them a broader idea of the legend behind the man and bring an up to date version of a mature Tarzan concerned with issues of humanity and justice.

Skatshard is very good looking. With a great body! And, although not called upon to undertake a great range of emotions, manages to show his braveness, agility and love of his wife. Robbie’s Jane is more than just a damsel in distress. Although she does need rescuing, she is a brave soul who loves her husband and wishes to have a child with him. Houslou is mesmerizing as he struts his stuff and Waltz plays his usual villain.

There is some excellent photography of exciting sequences and the elephants and other animals and in particular the gorillas are all computerised well enough to appear real.

An enjoyable romp of a film which is not to be taken too seriously.

Review by Carlie Newman