The Legend of Tarzan, 2016
Directed by David Yates
I don't know if I mentioned last week in my review of Free State of Jones, but I got those tickets for free for an advance screening. And apparently in this new city I live in, not as many people enter contests for advance screening tickets because I also won tickets for The Legend of Tarzan this week!
So Wednesday evening my husband and I drove across the city to see a new movie for free. I honestly didn't care too much to see this movie, but was vaguely curious what David Yates has been up to since doing the last few Harry Potter films.
The Legend of Tarzan tells the story of John Clayton III, formerly known as Tarzan by the popular media. John has been living in England with his wife Jane for the past 8 years, inheriting the family title and manor. But King Leopold of Belgium, who has colonized a large part of the African Congo, invites John to visit the locals and visit schools and villages. However, what John and Jane don't know is that this was orchestrated for a different reason. King Leopold's right hand man, Leon Rom, actually wants to trade Tarzan to a deadly African tribe in exchange for extremely rare diamonds.
Firstly, I do need to commend the film, in a way, for being about a lot more than just a man who swings from vines and was raised by apes. The film does attempt to bring a more historical context and talk about timely issues. Surprisingly, the film deals a lot with the atrocity that Belgium and King Leopold wreaked in the Congo, taking thousands and thousands of the local natives as slaves. However, despite the film touching on this, it mainly just felt like a very fluffy film. There isn't really a whole lot of plot overall, it's mainly just Tarzan and George Washington Williams, an American historian who wanted proof of King Leopold enslaving the African people, attempting to save a village and Jane who were kidnapped by Leon Rom. So there was lots of action, lots of fights, lots of jumping off cliffs and swinging on vines. But not a lot in the way of actual story.
However, while it wasn't the best movie ever made, I did find it at least somewhat fun. This is a classic popcorn flick, in that it's not all that heavy to watch but it's fun and filled with action and romance. Alexander Skarsgard was decent as Tarzan, but the standouts for me were Margot Robbie as Jane and Samuel L Jackson as George Washington Williams. Margot's Jane was not someone who stood idly by and let herself be a damsel. She's strong and fierce and has a strong sense of self. Samuel L Jackson as Williams however, was definitely my favourite part of the film. His character was like a version of someone he played in a Tarantino film, but the PG-13 version. Honestly, he was the humor in the film and it was just fun.
Honestly, this movie could've been a lot better and the fact that so many people from the Harry Potter films were behind it makes me disappointed it wasn't better than it was. It was fluff and really not all that good fluff. But at least they made it somewhat fun to watch, even if David Yates is capable of much better things. He's hoping his next directorial effort, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, is much better than this.