The Legend of Tarzan review: swings and misses


Alexander Skarsgård.
Alexander Skarsgård.

SAVING us the boredom of yet another origin story (though his background is told through flashback), The Legend of Tarzan picks up with Tarzan as now diplomat John Clayton (Alexander Skarsgard) living in England when he is invited back to the Congo, which has been divided up between Belgium and the United Kingdom.

With suspicions that the native people of the Congo are being enslaved, John and his wife Jane (Margot Robbie) return with American George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson), but there is a bigger conspiracy cooking that puts them all in danger.

Side-stepping any chance of great substance and ignoring any potential for Tarzan’s inner struggle with assimilating with human society or any theme of human versus animal instinct, The Legend of Tarzan remains a hollow story with some spectacle.

Slavery gives some historical context but alas a few shots of chained up Africans barely scratch the surface of the issue; this is told from the white man’s point of view.

The special effects vary from impressive to shoddy – the animals brought to life with such eye-popping realism are similar to this year’s The Jungle Book, yet human interaction with CGI tree branches and CGI characters swinging from vines looks hokey.

Jane has been modernised as an anti-damsel with a sassy attitude and capable of a decent head-butt but Robbie is often lifeless in her portrayal; ditto goes for leading man Skarsgard.

Jackson is used for comedic relief but a repeated gag about licking a gorilla’s genitals feels completely out of place, as does Jackson himself.

With minimal vine swinging, cultural sensitivity or substance, The Legend of Tarzan is a let down.

THE ESSENTIALS

The Legend of Tarzan (M)

Directed by: David Yates

Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Margot Robbie, Christoph Waltz

Two stars

Review by Julian Wright

In cinemas now