The Legend of Tarzan

The Legend of Tarzan ★★

David Yates has a special place in my heart. He directed the final four (or three depending on how you're counting) Harry Potter films. He brought much needed weight to that franchise and brought it to a wonderful conclusion. He attempts to bring his gritty style to The Legend of Tarzan, and if this is any indication, I'm worried about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them later this year.

Throughout The Legend of Tarzan's 109 minute runtime (which felt way longer) the one word that kept repeating in my head was this: lifeless. The Legend of Tarzan feels so lifeless, and it comes through in so much of its production. Set during the late 19th century, a turbulent time for Europe, the film only slightly captures some of that, using what could be an interesting blend of history and fiction to tell its story. What it ends up being is simply a predictable and shallow action film.

Featuring huge stars, The Legend of Tarzan's cast could have possible brought some life into this film. Unfortunately, most of the performances are passable, if that. Christoph Waltz plays a rather less psychotic and less charismatic version of his character from Inglorious Basterds. He does have a rosary that he uses like Indiana Jones, so that's cool, I guess. Samuel L. Jackson plays, well, Samuel L. Jackson. Alexander Skarsgard at first seemed wooden and stiff, and he loosens up quite a bit as the film progresses, but still isn't too memorable. Who does stand out here is Margot Robbie. What is unfortunate about her character is how the writers tried not to pigeonhole her as yet another damsel in distress - as is evident by her pointing it out - yet whenever it gives her a chance to take action, she ends up prisoner again, and becomes the very thing the writers were trying to avoid.

Animal CGI has improved dramatically in the past couple years. Films like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and this year's The Jungle Book have become hallmarks for beautiful, photorealistic (more in the former than the latter) animals. The Legend of Tarzan doesn't exactly look hideous, the apes are actually done quite well, but most of the other animals - save for a couple - look borderline bad. Some moments of action where our titular protagonist is swinging through the jungle looks blatantly poorly made. What is commendable is Yates' use of close ups on characters' faces, which give the film much needed substance.

By the end of The Legend of Tarzan, I asked myself, "Wait, why are we going here again?" The truth, as it turns out, wasn't very interesting, and feels dull. There are individual pieces that work in The Legend of Tarzan, but when it all comes together, it all feels messy, and as mentioned before, just lifeless.

Bryan Andrade liked this review