Director: David Yates
Writers: Adam Crozad & Craig Brewer
Stars: Alexander Skarsgard, Margot Robbie, Christopher Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, Djimon Honsou
Tarzan has been one of my favorite stories. I loved Disney’s Tarzan (1999) and even the old Tarzan the Ape Man from 1932. Though, I believe any live action portrayals of Tarzan haven’t done this legendary wild man justice until now. Previous versions have failed to capture the true wildness and danger of the African jungle and what that would truly do to a man mentally and even physically. This movie is a perfect marriage between Disney’s Tarzan and the cult classic Tarzan the Ape Man.
Violence/Scary Images: There’s a good amount of violence from shootouts to animal attacks. Belgian soldiers and George shoot and kill other characters; natives use spears to defeat enemies; Tarzan beats many men senseless; and crocodiles, gorilla, wildebeest, and lions kill humans. There aren’t any sequences of excessive blood, but Tarzan gets the pulp beaten out of him on several occasions. At one point uses ant heads to pinch a bite wound closed, which I found fascinating but made several theater goers cringe. There are several sequences with the gorilla are honestly terrifying. These are not the cute benign primates from the Disney version, these are powerful and fierce animals.
Language/Crude Humor: There isn’t an excess of language but George (Samuel L. Jackson’s character) has a mouth on him and a few of the Force Publique swear. I heard sh**, d***, b***, and a** used a couple times. When confronted by a gorilla and Tarzan tells him to bow, George sarcastically says, “You want me to lick his nuts too?” Tarzan and Jane first met when they were both in the Jungle years ago, and he unknowingly sniffed her near a private area.
Spiritual Content: Jane mentions that the natives used to think Tarzan was an evil spirit.
Sexual Content: Tarzan and Jane are married and they have a few sequences of intense kissing then one sex scene though only the beginning of it is shown. When Tarzan lived in the Jungle, he didn’t have any clothes. No male parts were shone, but there were some side shots of the upper thigh.
Drug/Alcohol Reference: The natives have George drink some strong beer, and Leon and Jane drink wine over dinner.
Other Negative Content: As a wild man Tarzan does some things he regretted. Those are spoilers.
Positive Content: I adored seeing a positive marriage relationship between Tarzan and Jane. There aren’t many films out there with a married couple who still go on adventures with each other while still keeping their love ablaze. I loved the confidence Jane has in her husband and likewise with Tarzan in his wife. Their devotion to each other was inspiring and their romance heart melting. Romance doesn’t die when vows are given. We need more movies like this.
After Tarzan left the African Congo, he took his place as Lord John Clayton III in his parents’ estate in England and married Jane Porter. For years, he’s tried to forget his life in the jungle, but when he learns that King Leopold II is threatening to conquer the Congo for its slaves and diamonds, Tarzan returns with Jane and George, an emissary from the US, to find evidence against the Belgian King. Meanwhile, Leon Rom, an agent of the King and head of the Force Publique, seeks Tarzan to trade him for enough diamonds to pay for mercenaries to further King Leopold’s African endeavors. While coming for Tarzan, Rom captures Jane, forcing Tarzan to journey through the African wilderness, fighting fierce beasts and Force Publique to find her.
The plot was a mix between Disney’s focus on Tarzan’s origin story and Tarzan of the Ape‘s focus on his life with Jane and his protection of the jungle. I liked more interaction with the African tribes and more inclusion of the diamond industry that was historically hot during that age. Also I liked that for once poor England isn’t the bad guy, Belgium was since it had a big hand in Africa at the time.
Alexander Skarsgard’s performance of Tarzan blew me away. He absolutely owned the part. He is how I pictured Tarzan to be. His physicality down to the bone structure change in his hands was so realistic. His soft spoken nature and his showing of affection with animal motions like nuzzling had me internally squealing in delight. His interactions with the animals and his imitations of the animal sounds were so perfect. He definitely stole the show.
Margot Robbie’s performance of Jane was well done, though it took me a bit of getting used to in this version her being American. I liked her passion for the African people and for her husband. Samuel L. Jackson’s character George Washington Williams was the comic relief and also the normal guy of the group. He was an American gunslinger and had trouble keeping up with Tarzan. Leon Rom was an evil and intriguing villain. His Madagascar spider silk rosary was such a cool weapon and his OCD nature gave him an interesting character quirk. He was a menacing and formidable opponent for Tarzan, Jane, and George.
The setting amazed me. I loved seeing the wild African jungle, waterfalls, rivers, the savanna, and even the Port of Boma. The CGI for the animals was mind-blowing. They looked and moved incredibly realistically. The scary ones struck terror in my heart and the docile ones made me melt. The score by Rupert Gregson-Williams was very moving and fit all of the scenes and carried with it the feel of Africa.
This movie wowed me in all respects of the word. I loved the characters, the plot, the setting, the effects, the score, all of it. I have no idea how this could have gotten a bad rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but I loved it. If you are a fan of Tarzan, this is a must-see film!
+ Gritty and realistic version of Tarzan + Alexander Skarsgard did an excellent job at making Tarzan wild yet still human + Animal CGI is fantastic + Great husband and wife relationship with Tarzan and Jane + An 1800s villain who is British
- George and Jane Sometimes Acted a Bit Modern for Their Characters
The Bottom Line
The Legend of Tarzan is a great realistic approach at this story. This is even one to contend with Disney's animated Tarzan.