The Legend of Tarzan, film review: ‘Christopher Nolan does Jungle Book’

The Legend of Tarzan. Picture: Jonathan Olley/Warner Bros

The Legend of Tarzan. Picture: Jonathan Olley/Warner Bros - Credit: Jonathan Olley

Stylish stylized Tarzan reboot channels elements of Batman franchise but doesn’t hang together.

Tarzan is one of those properties – like Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, Frankenstein, Snow White, Hamlet – that it is seemingly compulsory to remake every decade or so, regardless of demand. It’s a duty.

But such is the glut of reboots, re imaginings and sequels in Hollywood now that they appear to be cross pollinating and interbreeding in an effort to generate some novelty.

So Tarzan, Legend thereof, is like a dark and moody Christopher Nolan version of this years’ Jungle Book movie, but afflicted by persistent recurring outbreaks of Quentin Tarantinoism.

In terms of plot it is both Dark Knight Rises and Batman Begins.


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In the 1880’s Lord Greystoke (Skarsgard) is now living in his English stately home with wife Jane (Robbie) when he is lured back to the Congo and reverts to his Tarzan identity to combat attempts by the King of Belgium to make the entire country his slaves.

He is helped by an entirely anachronistic L. Jackson who is given to saying, “Damn, that’s one odious aroma,” as they try to defeat the evil machination of Waltz, who has a matching Fitzcaraldo white suit and steamboat.

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David Yates, who saw out the entire second half of the Harry Potter series, has delivered a stylish and stylized take on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ creation.

Skarsgard, son of Stellan, is a slightly stilted Tarzan (at times his dialogue delivery made me think of Colin Firth) and Robbie’s Jane makes no real impression.

Overall the film is impressively mounted and looks great - but all those great looking, impressively mounted scenes don’t really hang together, there’s no cohesive vision behind them.

The film is a good example of the type of visual extremism that has been ushered in by computer generated graphics and 3D.

Everything has to be the most it can be – any cliff top has to be higher than you can imagine; the jungle must be thicker than any you’ve ever seen, Skarsgard’s six pack is more chiselled than any ever sculpted. Nothing can just be.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

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