Right out of the gate I have to admit that my expectations for Warner Brothers new take on Tarzan were quite high. I really only remember the animated Disney movie that featured that epic Phil Collins song. The trailer seemed great, the film looked great, and every actor or actress in the film basically has been nominated or won Academy Awards. With the recent smash success of The Jungle Book this movie is basically settling for the silver medal at best, right from the onset. The crazy part is not only did I find the film fresh, fun, and exciting, but also it totally surpassed my expectations. That’s really hard to do when so many of these films.
The film starts out with Tarzan and Jane happily married and living in the real world. Happiness is quickly put aside when a war starts brewing in the village where Tarzan was raised. While forwarding the story we see continuous flashbacks to Tarzan and Jane’s first meetings, him being raised by the apes, etc. When the devilish Leon Rom, played by Christoph Waltz, wants to dig the land for diamonds, and he kidnaps Jane to distract Tarzan from getting the diamonds. We meet characters played by Samuel L Jackson and Djimon Hounsou. Jackson is a total wingman to Tarzan and Hounsou is the leader of the village people that Waltz wants to over take to steal the diamonds. It’s just a retelling of the classic man tries to save the day and get the girl. It’s simplicity at its best. As far as the characters go, Tarzan really doesn’t have much dialogue and could have used a bit more personality. Waltz is, well, Waltz. He’s literally the same character from Inglorious Basterds, just not as hostile. Hounsou also didn’t get to do much out of his cliche ‘I’m king of the village’ thing but 2 characters totally steal the film. We all know Margot Robbie is a gorgeous young actress. I can’t wait to see her take on Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad but she sure as hell shines in this movie. She is no prisoner to anyone and if you call her out she will just spit right in your face. It was so refreshing to see that character really fight back and go for it. I also loved how she’s not all glammed up. It’s the 1800’s and you’re a prisoner. It’s great to see the make up artist go easy on the make up. Then you have Jackson as the comic relief, just having fun and playing well off of Alexander Skarsgard. It’s a great overall cast. The things that worked. Most of you are familiar with the story and it doesn’t stray too far. It could have done a few new things and it certainly could have had more action. The movie is very talk heavy and it’s only an hour and 49 minutes. I feel the flashbacks could have been cut down because it’s really annoying to stop during a serious scene in the now with something from the past. It almost felt like a Saw sequel that’s more of a flashback than a new film.
I feel like the villain here could have been more villainous. I mean you can never trust someone with a moustache like Waltz’s in the film, a villainous archetype. The action that’s in the film is beautifully shot but at the same time we don’t get to see enough. The scenes with Tarzan fighting in hand to hand combat while swinging look smooth, slick, and mesmerizing. That’s a total credit to director David Yates, who directed four Harry Potter films. However slick the action scenes feel repetitive, every fight scene just feels the same. Thanks to Margot and Samuel, they really bring humour and fun to the action here. It’s also important to note the look of the film. Think about each Harry Potter film and how they have different looks and tones to them. The pale blue look to the film added a sense of mystery that has me talking like a total geek. The CGI was good and during the action scenes there was never a feeling of overuse, which is a huge problem these days. The Jungle Book was basically an animated movie. Jane and Tarzan never get into cheesy territory with their romance. So while I appreciate the film taking on the basics of the story, it was the actors that really made the film something special. The film also looked amazing in 3D. One scene with the gorilla’s fighting in the rain is something I look forward to seeing again. All in all I’d say Warner Brothers has a really good film on their hands. They managed to actually properly reboot a legend quite well. It’s not perfect, it’s simplistic, and it’s a really fun ride that I only wish was longer. There should be more action and more types of action, but with the cast and brilliant direction I say take a chance on this film because you can’t judge a book by its cover.
Review by Kory Davis