2016 saw reboot of two “jungle” films – The Jungle Book and The Legend of Tarzan. While the stellar performance of Neel Sethi as Mowgli turned The Jungle Book a huge financial success and surprise hit, the brooding Alexander Skarsgård and a tired Margot Robbie as Mr. and Mrs. Clayton made The Legend of Tarzan an unwatchable, boring mess.
Mowgli and Tarzan are the two characters we have grown reading about. And thanks to the multiple iterations of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s white man raised by apes, almost every moviegoer must be aware of the story of Tarzan. Yet, the movie spends good amount of time on the flashbacks showing his life in the jungle before he moved back to England. That time could have been better spent on the main story unraveling in the present time. The were many subplots cramped inside the 110 minutes of run time. The screenwriters beefed up the premise with subplots involving colonialism, slavery and the pillaging of Africa’s resources: real-life campaigning journalist George Washington Williams (Samuel L Jackson) is transplanted, somewhat inelegantly, into the story. Each of these subplots, on their own, would have made for a far more compelling movie. These subplots weren’t explored and executed in a rewarding way. And so, like the famous proverbial saying ‘Too many cooks, spoils the broth’, here, ‘Too many subplots, spoils the film’ is fitting.
The actors Alexander Skarsgård, Margot Robbie and Christopher Waltz couldn’t breathe life into their characters either. Alexander Skarsgård seems to have taken inspiration from Henry Cavill’s book ‘101 Ways of How to be Brooding’. As much as Christopher Nolan revolutionized the cinema with his darker version of Dark Knight trilogy, the directors following his footsteps haven’t been successful enough. First Zack Snyder and now David Yates. Margot Robbie appeared tired and emotionless in her scenes. Christopher Waltz portrayed Léon Rom, an evil, diamond-hungry henchmen of Belgian King Leopold II. Like Williams, screenwriters used another real-life character from history to play the antagonist in the movie. Waltz overdid his part and you could feel he wasn’t himself sure how to play the part. At one point I was like, should I fear him or laugh at him. Samuel L. Jackson shined in his sidekick role of George Washington Williams, but even he couldn’t escape the poor characterization.
As if the Writing and Acting department didn’t suck enough, the Special Effects too wasn’t at par with the quality we have been treated to in past few years. For a movie spending 90% of its run time
in the wilderness of African forest, the last thing you would expect is poorly constructed critters and the forest around them. In a couple of scenes, (the scene where elephants are passing by after greeting Tarzan) if you pay enough attention, you can see the forest as a flat 2D image. With actors not even bothering to look in the right direction much of the time, the interactions between human actors and CGI animals seemed shoddy.
To sum it up in one line, The Legend of Tarzan is utter disaster. The characters are irrdeemable and even 15-year old can predict the plot. Of all the incarnations of Tarzan, it’s safe to say that this is the worst possible one till date. So guys, what did you think about The Legend of Tarzan? Did you like the movie? Or were you also disappointed with lackluster performance? Give your ratings below.
- Samuel L. Jackson as sidekick
- The ant sewing scene
- Substandard special effects
- Awful acting
- Predictable Plot