Wednesday, August 31, 2016
“The Legend of Tarzan”
I am an ardent fan of the cinematic arts. Although I have certain genre preferences, I don’t let that stifle my curiosity and close myself to different flavors of entertainment. That said...I am a huge fan of science fiction, super hero and action movies! Please visit my other blog The Boxed Office for reviews, exclusively, on these types of movies.
Skarsgård plays the hero and title role of Tarzan (aka John Clayton) and brings back to life a very controversial character (given his origin and historical context) and does a decent job of it. They won’t be handing out any Oscar’s for the performance, but given the lack of depth of the script, Skarsgård did what he was able to do to make Tarzan somewhat relatable. A tough assignment given the current pulse of society.
Waltz is always a joy to watch, and that was probably the only reason I was watching him here as Leon Rom. Again, the dud of a script left him with very few lines (but he is still able to convey his villainy without speaking) and the few times he did speak I felt I was giving him a pass simply because I like his style and have enjoyed him in past films. Watching him here save what little he could of his character made me decide I like him much better as a hero (Django Unchained) than a villain.
Margot Robbie plays Jane…and what would Tarzan be without her? Probably more interesting. What would this film be without her? Probably better. Really though, with shades of Harley Quinn peeking out every now and then, I found it hard to take her seriously. The “damsel-in-distress” is a tired cliche at this point and really didn’t help the film advance beyond the bubble it was already in simply by tackling the Tarzan mythos and the subject matter surrounding it.
Samuel Jackson has been in more films than anyone in the history of Hollywood…ever. Taking roles like this is why. Playing George Washington Williams, the token sidekick to the real hero, didn’t help dispel the racial quagmire presented here, and instead reinforces everything that is wrong with the film (well, not everything). Sam is a great actor, but here it seems as though he was just playing himself, and calling the endeavor someone else. A shame really since George Washington Williams was a real person of great accomplishments.
Taking heavily from history and sprinkling some fictional Tarzan in the mix, King Leopold II is using slave labor to rape the Congo of all it’s natural resources. Heading this endeavor up for him is Captain Leon Rom, a man with no moral code willing to do whatever is necessary to get the job done. Of course, all this is happening in secret and is suspected by George Washington Williams (the true life hero that exposed all this without Tarzan).
Williams uses Tarzan as his ticket into the Congo, after Tarzan is invited back by the nefarious Rom under a false invitation. Rom has cut a deal with Chief Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou) to deliver Tarzan in exchange for some rare diamonds that will pay for the funding of the exploitation of the land (unbeknownst to Mbonga).
Of course Jane insists of going (even though she has no skill for the mission or purpose for the trip) and the three of them set out for Africa. Naturally they are ambushed and Jane is taken captive by Rom…and Tarzan and Williams must set out to rescue her…and as a side note, expose the fact King Leopold II is using illegal slave labor…and settle up old scores with King Mbonga along the way.
What follows is an adventure through the lands and jungles of the Congo filled with treachery and danger from all sides that only a native son not native to the land (huh?) can solve.
This travesty should have never been made. It is barely watchable with very few redeeming qualities aside from the fact…it’s barely watchable. I honestly don't know where to begin to dissect this film into it’s base components. Do I start with the racial quagmire? Do I start with the incapable script? Do I start with the fact they built this film up to be something really special and the only special thing about it was my fortitude to watch it?
This film has been called a racist film that should never have been made, indeed…it’s being said the character and subject matter simply cannot be rebooted in it’s original format and find relevance in our time (although current events seem to be disputing this). I agree with all of these sentiments and will simply add that Hollywood knew exactly what they were doing when they made this film…and simply didn’t care.
The CGI borders on horrible but oddly enough fits the film since the script is just as bad. There was not a single moment in the film that blew me away, not a single scene that jumped out as something for conversation later, not a single memorable moment in character development or action in the entire film.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate this film…I just didn’t find any redeeming qualities in it given how insulting it was to my common sense and need to be entertained. Tarzan was written by Edgar Rice Burroughs during a time when racism was the widespread accepted social norm. There really is just no way to reboot this story in that setting without cultivating those seeds and trying to modernize the character for 2016 seems ridiculous given the current technology and the state man has reduced nature to. Could Tarzan be a character who’s time has finally passed? If this film is any indication, that would be an affirmative.
This film was aching tooth from the beginning and became a root canal the more I watched it…making it hard to enjoy the two cinnamon sticks (2), out of five, it dropped in my cup of tea.
Rating: 2 / 5