Unleash your primal calls: we’ve got another Tarzan swinging around. In the decennium where almost all Disney films get a real life remake, we could have seen this one coming. Or not. Instead of the usual “let’s see how Tarzan and Jane fall in love in a mild form of beastiality” we get a whole new Tarzan story, one so deeply sought and thought about that we don’t even know if it can really classify as Tarzan. Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard) has turned back into John Clayton and now lives in 19th century London, but for the sake of the British Empire and Congo he travels back to Africa with his wife Jane (Margot Robbie) and, weirdly enough, Samuel L. Jackson (okay, his name is George Williams, but as always that’s just Sam Jackson). Turns out it was a trap set by Belgium baddie Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz) who wants to trade Tarzan to vindictive tribe lord Mbonga for some ugly looking diamonds that could lead him into good spirits with the Belgian king. When Rom also steals away Jane, you know it’s game on.
This odd continuation of the Tarzan story we all know really takes time to get used to. Even when we do get used to it, it does not feel like a Tarzan story at all. Except for some diabolical flashbacks, we don’t get to see Tarzan all that much, just John Clayton showing off to his old and new friends. Skarsgard’s whole version of Tarzan just doesn’t have any charm to him. His shirt comes off way too often (I cannot believe I’m actually typing this), he stands up like an abused Ken doll and his eyes constantly look like he’s at the opticians trying to see whether the C in the green square or in the red square is the clearest. Basically, he’s that annoying all-good-doer protagonist that has gone super cliché. Samuel L. Jackson is, as said, somewhat of a strange addition to the cast, especially considering the fact that his character doesn’t do shit. While his amount of lines and screen time could be the same as the Jungle dude himself (how can you not with Sam Jackson), his character really just runs after the others. That’s it. Talk about side characters, jeez. Even Christoph Waltz, who has proven to be a 10/10 villain in many films, lacks pretty much all of his personality as Rom. Is he mean? Sure. Scary or interesting? Not at all.
For once the only well written character seems to be the only woman: Jane. She’s shown to be kind and loving, especially towards the people in their old African village, but stands her ground many times alongside the African warriors and against Rom and his minions. Whether she and Skarsgard really have a good chemistry, I cannot say. It might be because Skarsgard seems to be lacking chemistry with everyone in the film. The CGI in The Legend of Tarzan is decent at times, but far too often it’s clear that Tarzan isn’t actually roaming the jungles of Africa but instead frolics around in a studio in Hertfordshire, England. There is a lot of spectacle in the film, as if they tried to compensate with grotesque battles and settings for the lack of everything else. It sure is spectacular, but that does not make it good. But yeah, what else is new in Hollywood.
If I had to pick my favourite real life Tarzan film, it would probably be George of the Jungle. At least Brendon Fraser had a lot more charm and honestly even more good Tarzan vibes to him than Alex Skarsgard does in The Legend of Tarzan. Although I’m pleasantly surprised the woman for once is well written, they could have tried harder and made the other people more interesting, especially since they’re being played by such prominent actors. When also the visuals fail more than succeed and the entire colour spectrum is just boring grey, you can hardly expect it to be a great film. I’m sorry Disney fans, looks like we’ll have to count on Beauty and the Beast to be good then. Or, if you prefer, listen to that one song from Toy-Box. Even that one has a better Tarzan scream in it than The Legend of Tarzan.