Movie Review: ‘Legend of Tarzan’ Swings and Misses

“Legend of Tarzan” swings into theaters for the 4th of July weekend.

The story brought to us by Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1912, gets an update from director David Yates.

Many Generation Yers like me grew up with the tale of Tarzan. Just say the name and the first thing that comes to mind is Tarzan’s iconic jungle call. Oh, we tried and tried to imitate it, didn’t we?

But for Generation Xers, the “Legend of Tarzan” is missing one important part: the backstory about why he became a legend.

Legend of Tarzan

Movie Synopsis: “It’s been nearly a decade since Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård), also known as John Clayton III, left Africa to live in Victorian England with his wife Jane (Margot Robbie). Danger lurks on the horizon as Leon Rom, a treacherous envoy for King Leopold, devises a scheme that lures the couple to the Congo. Rom plans to capture Tarzan and deliver him to an old enemy in exchange for diamonds. When Jane becomes a pawn in his devious plot, Tarzan must return to the jungle to save the woman he loves.”

Alexander Skarsgard plays the main character, and obviously spent countless hours in the gym perfecting Tarzan’s chiseled chest. He got that down, alright!

His piercing blue eyes also reminded me of his brother, Bill. I chatted with the younger Skarsgard at a press junket in San Diego for the film “Allegiant.” Needless to say,  it was a bit of a distraction for me trying to find the similarities between the siblings (I do this with the Hemsworth brood, too!) as I watched this film.

Margot Robbi as Jane is as eye-pleasing as ever in this film.  But I couldn’t get comfortable with this pair together — the chemistry should have been there, but something wasn’t working.

Several times during the movie I felt the sincerity of their acting to be superficial — something that kept taking me out of the moment and made it difficult for me to care about the characters.

Director David Yates (last four “Harry Potter” movies) uses flashbacks to show Tarzan and Jane’s past, but things are glossed over in very broad strokes leaving us with more questions than answers like, how did Tarzan get that jungle call?

I expected to see and hear Tarzan doing his iconic call of the jungle — probably the part of the legend that we wanted to hear the most. But we get to hear it off in the distance twice during the whole film.

Yates does get more than a few things right, namely the beautiful CGI backgrounds and landscapes, and the detailed colonial period sets.

Christopher Waltz (“Specter,” “Django Unchained”) as the cunning villain Leon Rom, and Samuel L. Jackson’s (“Avengers,” “Hateful Eight”) quips as George Washington Williams, try to keep the plot-line from going flat and barely succeed.

There are some tender moments between humans and animals that pull at our heartstrings, but they are not quite up to the CGI standard set by Jon Favreau’s “The Jungle Book.”

We’re spoiled movie-goers, aren’t we?

Keep in mind that this film is not really a kids movie. There’s enough violence and dialogue that merit keeping younger kids from watching it — children under 7 years old might find it scary.

Though “Legend of Tarzan” wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be, it is still an entertaining film to watch — especially given the limited movie choices over the holiday weekend.

“Legend of Tarzan” has all the ingredients of an epic adventure drama, but just misses the vine and falls a little short. However, if you keep your expectations in check you’ll likely have a good time watching this movie.

“Legend of Tarzan” opens in theaters July 1, 2016

Rated PG-13

Runetime 1 hour and 50 minutes.



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