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Him Tarzan, Me Very Impressed – ‘The Legend of Tarzan’ film review

| Cinema, Things to do | 06/07/2016

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Rating:

What’s On London were treated to an early screening of Warner Brothers’ The Legend of Tarzan this week, starring Alexander Skarsgard and Margot Robbie and directed by Harry Potter’s very own David Yates.

As Shannon Rawlins reports, although the film is far from perfect, it’s an enjoyable and immersive ride with a number of strong performances and excellent use of CGI more than making up for certain plot gaps.

_L3A9723.dngThe film begins eight years after Tarzan left the jungle, as we join our much more civilised hero – going by his given name, John Clayton III (Alexander Skarsgard – True Blood) – living in London and taking his place in the House of Lords.

Coaxed into returning to the Congo to report on its colonial development by the King of Belgium’s right hand man Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained), Tarzan heads back to his old stomping ground with his American wife, Jane Porter (Margot Robbie – The Wolf of Wall Street).

They are also joined by George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson – Pulp Fiction), an American doctor desperate to expose the slave trade.  But although the trip is initially based on moral expectations, things take a turn for the worst.

Judging by the scars on his knuckles and wildly tamed weave, there’s still a bit of beast inside Tarzan.  This is immediately released when Jane gets kidnapped (shock, horror) by Rom, as part of his wicked plan to hand over the Lord of the Apes to tribe leader Chief Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou – Blood Diamond).  Cue vine swinging, tree diving and ape fighting as Tarzan chases through the wilderness in a bid to rescue his wife.

MV5BMzY3OTI0OTcyMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjkxNTAwOTE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_Skarsgard did a decent job with what he was given – few lines, limited facial expressions and a slightly shabby back-story which never really explained why his parents were living in the wild in the first place.  His Tarzan was somewhat believable, if this is possible?

Robbie serves unexpectedly well as a fiery Jane, improving on the helpless heroine we’re usually subjected to.  She brings sass and heart to the role.  And the more she was on screen, the less I listened to her American twang – instead, it was all about how perfect her hair managed to stay despite going through a large amount of jungle turbulence.

Waltz is comfortable in his usual kooky bad guy role.  It would be good to see him branch out with more, but for this part I have to say he fit perfectly.  The character (based on a historical figure who was horrendously cruel to African natives and inspired the character of Col. Kurtz in “Heart of Darkness”) travels armed with a deadly set of rosary beads made from spider silk, given to him my his priest when he was a boy (cue a hilarious homophobic jibe from Jane that seems to pass Rom by without a blink of an eye).

However, even alongside a cast as strong as this, Jackson completely stole the show as  Washington Williams, a Civil War fighter who travels alongside Tarzan (just about) to help him on his way.  He’s a dab hand with a rifle and provides some excellent light relief in what would otherwise be a dark and heavy film.

Although the film was filled with CGI, it was the best of the best, with each animal taking a form completely unique from the rest.  The battle scenes seemed brutal but necessary, culminating in a gigantic stampede as the jungle comes together to assist its true king in one final showdown.

The Legend of Tarzan swings into cinemas all over the UK today, Wednesday 6th July.  To see the official trailer, head here.  All of the images above are used with the permission of Warner Brothers.

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