The Legend of Tarzan is the latest installment of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ fabled, vine-swinging hero. Tarzan turned 100 in 2014. During the past 100 years, there have been around 50 movies, and I know of at least one TV show. And since Tarzan’s inception, the guy has seen everywhere from silent films and animated films, to live action black and white flicks, to this CGI soaked spectacular.
Johnny Weissmuller is best known and the best of the Tarzans, but he’s also been done by a dozen others. The Legend of Tarzan’s Alexander Skarsgard (Battleship and HBO’s True Blood) sits somewhere in the middle of the pack. He’s not bad, but he’s not good either.
Blame that on an awful script.
Exploiting the Congo’s riches has put the king of Belgium heavily in debt. Needing more money, he sends henchman Leon Rom, played by Christoph Waltz, to Africa to find a major source of diamonds. It’s protected by a native tribe that paint themselves ghostly white. Their chief is willing to part with the diamonds if Rom will deliver hated enemy Tarzan into his hands.
To lead Tarzan there, Rom grabs Jane, and the chase is on.
The Legend of Tarzan wastes a great cast. Skarsgard is the most buff Tarzan of them all, but other than running, swinging on vines and fighting, he doesn’t have much to do. You can’t find a better villain than Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained). He doesn’t have much to do either. Also excellent is the lovely Margot Robbie’s (Whisky, Tango, Foxtrot) whose Jane is more than just eye candy. Wrapping up the cast is Samuel L. Jackson, who’s only purpose — it seems — is to toss off preachy lines.
The film starts slow and stays slow before imploding with a lame, predictable climax.
The Legend of Tarzan is directed by David Yates, who directed the last of the Harry Potter movies. It’s written by Craig Brewer, who penned and directed the pimp flick Hustle & Flow and Black Snake Moan. He also wrote the latest Footloose.
Tarzan is 180 degrees the other direction, and Brewer is clearly out of his element.
Not once do you worry that Tarzan, the beautiful Jane or any of the main characters are in danger from humans or the sometimes badly done CGI animals. Missing — and what really helps adventure films — is a sense of humor.
So instead of generating a few laughs and a good time, The Legend of Tarzan is laughable and ends up a legend in its own mind.
The Legend of Tarzan
Director: David Yates
Stars: Alexander Skarsgard, Christoph Waltz, Margo Robbie, Samuel L. Jackson
Mr. Movie rating: 2 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes, violence. It’s playing at the Carmike 12, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and the Queensgate 12, and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen.
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don’t bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.