Thanks to Hollywood’s never-ending effort to turn a profit on anything vaguely resembling a franchise, the time has come for the world to revisit Tarzan and the legend of Greystoke.
The character dates back to 1912 and could be argued as one of the most influential characters of the 20th century. Tarzan has undergone countless media interpretations over the last several decades. These days, most people are probably best familiar with the animated Disney version. Anything Disney touches usually turns into zeitgeist fodder, so that’s not surprising. What is unexpected is the fact it has been years since we’ve seen the character depicted in a live action setting. This new film marks the first live-action incarnation of Tarzan since The WB’s attempt at a television series in 2003.
Is Warner Bros’s latest swing at Tarzan worth your time? In my opinion, if you ever liked The Phantom (1996) or The Mummy (1999), you’ll probably enjoy this because it plays very similarly to those films. If you are still on the fence, here’s 10 reasons you should fork over a few dollars to check out The Legend of Tarzan.
10. David Yates directed the movie. You may remember him as the fellow who directed 4 out of 8 of the Harry Potter films. So yeah, Warner Bros really tried.
9. No Tarzan origin story; just quick flashbacks throughout to get you up to speed on the character.
8. About midway through the film, Margot Robbie sells THE HELL out of one particular scene. Basically, she has to play a shocked woman who meets a gorgeous, ripped, mostly naked, steel-eyed jungle man for the first time. So much sniffing is involved. You’ve got to admire the lady’s willpower…
7. You get to spend the end of the movie arguing with your friend / significant other over Jim Broadbent’s billing position based on how much he actually contributes to the film.
6. Robbie gets to subvert the “damsel in distress” trope for a moment (even though Tarzan still has to save her in the end). Welp… They tried, I guess.
5. Tarzan deploys his amazing talent for mating calls at multiple points in the film. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t result in a hilarious, homo-erotically charged final confrontation with Christoph Waltz’s Rom. I don’t think it was intended, and I’m probably the only one who read the scene that way, but I’ll be damned if you expect me to accept any other interpretation of that scene which doesn’t involve several alligators having their way with Christoph Waltz.
4. Skarsgård’s abs, because we all have eyes and it’s good to use them once in a while.
3. Once you learn how Djimon Hounsou’s character and Tarzan first crossed paths, along with what lead to their mutual disdain for one another, the third act genuinely becomes more engaging. I fully expected the creators to pull something lazy, like Hounsou wanting to eat Tarzan because their people still saw him as some otherworldly jungle being that could empower them if ingested. The path they take instead offers much more intrigue and some unexpected sympathy for Hounsou.
2. No obvious sequel setup.
1. If there is one reason above all to see The Legend of Tarzan, that reason’s name is Samuel L. Jackson. Did you remember he was in this movie because I sure didn’t? I say this as someone who has seen these trailers a lot. Jackson easily plays the most interesting character in the film and has all the best lines. His “keep it 100” moment at the start of the film is timed to perfection. Right when you think you know what kind of experience you are in for, here comes Samuel L. Jackson as George Washington Williams (yep) to subvert your precious expectations. I won’t spoil any of his best moments for you because they deserve your money, but I think it is safe to say his highlight moment comes about 2/3 of the way through the film and involves an aggressive confrontation with Tarzan’s brother. I know a moment ago I said it was a “plus” that this film didn’t set up an obvious sequel like most films in its position would. But if it means more Sam Jackson, I’m in. His role was such a delight, I unironically want a two-hander sequel with Skarsgård’s Tarzan as the foil.
There you go people. 10 reasons to spend your hard earned money on something you were probably ready to skip. And don’t forget to practice your Tarzan yell…