Monday, July 4, 2016

Looking at Movies (First Run) - The Legend of Tarzan (2016)

I watch the movie schedules very carefully all year round, and somehow I missed this new Tarzan movie. The advertising for this film was weak, and it started to remind me of how Disney tried to bury John Carter before it was released by skimping on the advertising. Why would a company fund the making of a movie and then not advertise it? That is just the way the movie industry works. If the company is not happy with the film they get, then the company will pull back on support for the film.

The lack of advertising and any previews for The Legend of Tarzan indicated to me that maybe Warner Brothers was not as high on the movie as the producers had hoped. With John Carter, I felt the movie deserved a chance. With The Legend of Tarzan, I may have to side with Warner Brothers.

There is nothing woefully bad or exceptionally good about The Legend of Tarzan. It is just a boring movie that does not hold any type of premise that would interest a modern audience. Director David Yates did work very hard to remove the not-so-subtle racist undertones of other Tarzan movies, and the result is a much more balanced film when it comes to characters. But this movie just seems out of place today and out of step with today's audiences.

Inevitably, The Legend of Tarzan is going to get compared to The Jungle Book because of the similar premise each movie uses and the fact that both were released in the same summer. If I had to see one of these movies again, I would choose The Jungle Book. To be honest, I have seen The Jungle Book twice and I would see it again. But The Legend of Tarzan gave me no reason to be excited about coming back and buying another ticket.

This movie looks like Yates tried to cram two stories into one movie. The title of this movie is misleading as this is not the origin story to a new Tarzan franchise that we would expect. The origin story is presented in a series of flashbacks throughout the film that, honestly, get a bit annoying after a while.

I initially felt that the story in the flashbacks was better than the other story in this movie, but then the flashbacks started jumping all over the place and showing up at random points. After a while, I stopped caring about either story.

It was hard for me to shake the notion that the entire premise of a new Tarzan movie seemed out of place in today's movie universe. More than once, I leaned over to my wife to ask if there was a previous Tarzan movie associated with this one that we had not yet seen. This movie assumes that we already know the legend of Tarzan, which is suicide for a movie that is called The Legend of Tarzan. Do not force the audience to understand the story based on bits and pieces it may remember from other adaptations of the story. Instead, tell us the story and entertain us. But that never really happens.

Samuel L. Jackson continues his streak of being in every movie ever made after 2000 by playing a pivotal role in this film. Christoph Waltz is backed into a situation where he is forced to play the same role he has played numerous times, but this time he is the bad guy. Christoph Waltz has range, and he needs to stop taking these roles that put him into the same costumes and situations we have seen him in 100 times before.

All in all, this film tries to be breathtaking and exciting, but it just falls flat. The lone bright spot is Jackson, which is something that can be said for the long list of awful movies he has done in his career. There is just not enough substance to carry this movie, and the story that the movie tries to tell is constantly interrupted with flashbacks that get increasingly nonsensical. This should have been split into two movies, but there would be no guarantee that anyone would have paid to see the second one.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

George N Root III is a drive-in fanatic who used to love old Tarzan movies. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3, or send him a message at