Following the huge success of Jon Favreau’s joyous Jungle Book remake earlier this year, Warner Brothers must have thought that their latest adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan would be a similar hit. However, judging from early box office figures in the U.S., it would appear that this is not be the case. However, that’s not to say that The Legend of Tarzan is not worth checking out. As someone whose childhood revolved around Disney’s animated take on Tarzan, I was deeply anxious about David Yates’ interpretation. And although the film is not entirely successful, there are many ideas and aspects within the film that are worth recommending.
We begin the film in London, late 1800’s, and John Clayton, formerly known as Tarzan, has settled in the upper-class lifestyle with his gorgeous wife Jane, played by Aussie sensation Margot Robbie. Things change for John, however, when he is invited back to the Republic of Congo by Belgian King, Leopold, to witness his “good deeds” being done. Inevitably, John is not impressed and soon finds himself pitted against the villainous Leon Rom.
Now, amongst this fairly conventional narrative is some fairly interesting subtext of slavery and racism in Africa. Additionally, the film does manage to portray Tarzan as someone who struggles to maintain both his upper-class and savage identities, although Alexander Skarsgård’s performance is much too dull too care. His performance as both John Clayton and Tarzan are as unconvincing as the visual effects, which lead to my next point.
In a world where we have enormous amounts of technological resources, it is surprising that we can still complain about lacklustre visual effects. The CGI in The Legend of Tarzan is amongst the worst I have ever seen, and is incredibly distracting, particularly in the final act.