Wednesday, July 6, 2016
The Legend of Tarzan Review
Did we need another Tarzan movie? Perhaps not. But we got one. Sometimes I find myself complaining about all these unnecessary remakes. Other times I just accept their existence and move on with my life. I've always been intrigued with the idea of The Legend of Tarzan. When I heard about the cast and crew here, that's what got my attention. Then the trailers came out and I thought it could be cool. However, I thought I was in the minority with this. No one seemed to be excited for this movie. But yet the aforementioned box office totals suggest that the phenomenon of the silent majority was in play here. I wasn't the only person looking forward to this. Other people were excited, too. They just didn't vocalize their excitement. Or at least not as loudly as those who weren't excited. Speaking of Disney, though, it is worth mentioning that this is definitely not a specific re-imagining of Disney's Tarzan. This goes back and remakes the original stories of Tarzan that Disney strayed from, like they always do, and does so with a very dark, serious tone. I would make a guess that that was the root of many people's worries. The dark, serious tone that is. I mean, heaven forbid a Tarzan movie be any fun, right? We are talking about a man raised in the jungle by apes, aren't we?
I will admit that as I was watching this movie, I found myself a lot more interested in the flashbacks than the sequel story of Tarzan returning to the jungle. I almost wish that we had actually had been given this story first before as a movie before we dove straight into this sequel. Those scenes were all super intense and dramatic. They had my undivided attention. We all know that Tarzan was raised by apes. Disney went with gorillas. The original stories weren't gorillas, but were close to gorillas. So to be safe I am going to call them apes. And these apes are super scary, much like full grown gorillas and chimpanzees are in real life. You know that story of the silverback gorilla that got shot in the zoo? "Oh but he was just going to take care and love the child that fell in his cage and those mean zookeepers shot him unfairly." Ha ha ha ha ha!!! Yeah, not to get political, but that's a ridiculous stance. These are scary animals in real life and they're definitely terrifying in this movie. The ape that the original story, as well as Disney, calls Kerchak is a terrifying beast in this movie. Kala acts as a nice motherly figure in this, but I was scared of Kerchak. We didn't anthropomorphize them like Disney, so they don't talk. But they don't need to. You knew Kerchack was angry and you knew why. There's also some serious drama that goes on between Tarzan and these apes that I was fully invested in.
So yes, this backstory that the movie was telling us was fascinating. I loved it and I kinda wanted a full movie with just that backstory. The sequel story wasn't quite as interesting. Not at first, anyways. But then we finally came full circle. When Tarzan goes back to these apes, it's not a friendly reunion and thus you know that some crazy drama went on and when that's finally revealed, this movie, both in the flashbacks and the current story, gets pretty good. The movie doesn't anthropomorphize the apes. But there's definitely some great emotion. In fact, one of the best character arcs in this movie is one of the apes. That ape and the leader of the native tribe, played by Djimon Hounsou. I will say no more, but yeah, Djimon Hounsou is one of the several side characters that stole this movie right away from Alexander Skarsgard and Margot Robbie as Tarzan and Jane. But native tribesmen? Yeah, like I said, this is not Disney's Tarzan. We have a couple different tribes as well as a whole assortment of animals including lions, wildebeest, ostriches, elephants, hippos, crocodiles and more. It's not just Tarzan and the apes. We're in the African Congo! Thus even though we know the story of Tarzan, we don't know where this specific story is going in either timeline. So this isn't as predictable as you might think. And there's a lot of emotion.
How about these visual effects in the movie? Phenomenal! I saw this movie in 3D IMAX and even though I wasn't initially excited for that part of the movie, it ended up being the best 3D IMAX movie that I've seen this summer. Granted, its only competition was Alice Through the Looking Glass, Warcraft, and Independence Day: Resurgence as I didn't see Captain America: Civil War or X-Men: Apocalypse in 3D IMAX. But regardless, this was pretty good. It actually effectively used the 3D when Tarzan was swinging on vines through the jungle and fighting various opponents. It wasn't over the top or distracting. But it was enough for me to be entertained by the 3D, which is hard to do nowadays. And the IMAX part was great. The score of the movie is fantastic, which in my opinion is the most important part of an IMAX adventure. A giant screen, fun 3D, and great visuals are nice, but if you don't have that good score, then it's a waste of an IMAX ticket. This movie has that and it's a score that is done by Rupert Gregson-Williams, who is known for scoring a bunch of Adam Sandler movies and that's almost it. Impressive, though, because when I was looking up who did the score, I was expecting a big name composer. And yes, the visuals in this movie are great. It's amazing what we can do with CGI today. You would think that all of these animals are real, but they're not.
No, we probably didn't need another Tarzan movie. But that's the case with most of these live-action Disney remakes. We don't really need any of them. If you hate the fact that they exist, well you're in for some trouble because there will be a lot more them done by Disney themselves as well as others. So even though this movie wasn't necessary, we got it anyways. Turns out it's a pretty solid Tarzan movie. If you're a fan of the character like I am, you'll be happy to know that they did him justice. The cast of the movie is perfect. Alexander Skarsgard and Margot Robbie were great as Tarzan and Jane, even though they did get overshadowed slightly by the excellent performances from Samuel L. Jackson and Djimon Hounsou. Christoph Waltz was a slightly forgettable villain, but he still did his best with what he was given. I was worried about the serious tone of the movie, but it worked. The action sequences are great, the visual effects are phenomenal, the movie has a good amount of emotion, and a story that sucked me in. Sure, it took a while for me to get invested in the present timeline as I was more invested in the flashbacks at first. But in the second half of the movie I was invested in both timelines and I thought they tied together very effectively. So yeah, this movie was a pleasant surprise and thus I will give The Legend of Tarzan an 8/10.