So… it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. But was it good? Not really. The problem I had with the film is that it had potential but it wasn’t handled well.
The Legend of Tarzan takes itself way too seriously if you ask me. The movie is injected with a dose of over-the-top action with a side of testosterone and nonsense. It would have been more interesting if taken down a notch.
The chemistry between Tarzan and Jane is strong enough to pull the audience in, add to it the gorgeous scenes with the tribe and you’ve got some of the best moments of the film. When it comes to the rest, I don’t even know where to start…
Let’s start with the plot, shall we. King Leopold of Belgium seized control of Congo’s minerals, from which he made tonnes of profit. Once it began to run dry, he sent Captain Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz) to find some very precious diamonds. This over-dressed white man walks in with his army and silly hat, ready to kill as many men as he wants to bring back some gems. A gigantic tribe ruled by Chief Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou) stops him and kills all his men. They leave him alive for some reason, he then creates a deal with the chief to bring him back Tarzan.
He schemes and finds a way to reach Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard), who now lives under the name of Lord Greystoke or John Clayton in a beautiful castle in London, oh so bourgeoisie. But, oh angst hold me down, Tarzan refuses to go back to Africa for the expedition of King Leopold. A man from America of the name of George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson) will convince him to make it to the expedition since he’s suspecting Belgium to be attacking and enslaving tribes in Congo. Tarzan will then agree, his gorgeous wife Jane Clayton (Margot Robbie) begs to follow, John Clayton gets mad because he loves her and doesn’t want her to get hurt. They kiss. Everything is okay. Let’s go.
As they reach Congo, they meet with the tribe who raised Jane. Those are the loveliest scenes of the film and they felt very truthful, with the singing and the storytelling. But happiness can’t stay, the evil Leon Rom attacks the tribe and kidnaps Tarzan, Jane and quite a few other members. That’s without knowing that George Washington Williams is a master at shooting and that he never misses his target. He will save Tarzan, but not his beloved wife. Then follows the biggest chase in the history of the jungle, featuring cameos with very loud gorillas and more evil Belgians who for the most part don’t even speak Dutch or French. Conveniently, everyone speaks perfect English.
One of my problem with the film is that it’s overfilled, it’s stuffed with so much action but yet not all of it is interesting. The pacing is sluggish and definitely, would have benefited some cuts. It also doesn’t make a lot of sense. I know that it’s about a boy who was raised by gorillas and that flies from liana to liana and that I’m supposed to open my mind, but especially towards the end of the film a lot of what happens seems very gimmicky and I just couldn’t take it anymore.
Also, as someone who edits and do colorization for a living (kinda), I just want to point to one particular shot that made me cringe. Tarzan is running towards the bad guys with some boys from the tribe and the ever-slowing George who’s trying his best when the camera cuts to a flock of birds flying in the sky. The lens gets dirty. Is it bird poop, is it rain? I don’t know. But why, why, leave a dirty lens ruin a shot and therefore break the 4th wall in my brain. Here I am, looking at the film, wondering if this is a technical mistake or if it’s what they were going for. But what does a lens with bird poop on it bring to this huge mess? Nothing.
I’m sorry but I had to rant about this. It just shows how disinterested David Yates was about directing The Legend of Tarzan. I had high hopes when I saw the name of the man who directed my favourite Harry Potter film, but I guess even your faves disappoint you sometimes. (Not you David Fincher, never you)
I will end this by saying that the song by Hozier at the end was very nice. Still not worth sitting through this nonsense, listen to it here instead: