The Legend of Tarzan

The Legend of Tarzan ★★★

The Legend of Tarzan is a really pleasant surprise. Advertised with dour trailers and humdrum buzz, it's actually a fun revisiting of a classic hero. The worst aspect of the film is David Yates' direction, or rather, his attempts to add directorial flourishes. His close-ups feel reminiscent of the worst facets of Tom Hooper's direction, and an obnoxious use of slow motion ruins otherwise well-choreographed action scenes. The dull color pallette too also harms the movie quite a bit.

However, the script by Adam Cozad and Craig Brewster is incredibly refreshing. Outside of the main villain, everyone feels decently comprehensive character wise, and the plot is fairly straightforward and economical. The film has two very unique attributes that most other blockbusters these days lack: the main couple of the film is married and thus clearly love each other the whole movie, and the late 1800s Congo setting. The latter opens the film up to an antislavery plotline that would seem out of place in a Tarzan movie if it weren't given the prominence it deserved. The whole film has an appropriately legendary tone that allows you to understand why Tarzan has been popular throughout the years. Just a surprisingly great script for a movie that could've easily been lackluster.

The cast does a great job with their roles, with highlights being Margot Robbie's Jane and Samuel L. Jackson's George Washington Williams. They both feel joyously alive in their roles, and you'll want to see more of them than they are in the movie. Skarsgard's Tarzan is solid, if a bit uncharismatic, but since he's paired with Jackson the whole movie, that's just fine since he looks the part and does well with the action. Christoph Waltz is Christoph Waltz and thus, the weakest aspect of the film.

The cinematography switches from claustrophobic to beautifully displaying its landscapes, and feels inconsistent. To be honest, Yates' mediocre direction should make The Legend of Tarzan feel much more inconsistent than it is. Thankfully, this update to the Lord of the Apes feels invigorating with its old school style and strong cast. The Legend of Tarzan is a great blockbuster for summer 2016 and a good movie by any standard.

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