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.

The Cast:

   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.

The Plot:

   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.

The Verdict: 

   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 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

“Ever Wonder Why….?”

   Sometimes I find myself observing situations that defy logic (in my mind) and I have to wonder why those situations are taking place. I know the world doesn’t always make sense, but that doesn’t mean we have to go along for the ride… and not make sense with it. Perhaps I’m the one having comprehension issues and simply can’t figure out what the perfectly logical explanation is for the things I see? Maybe there is more to the puzzle than the pieces I’m observing? Whatever the case is…join me now for a few simple observations that made me wonder…”why?”

   So you’re sitting in traffic, bumper-to-bumper, moving at a crawl for what must be an accident or some sort of construction. It’s not “rush hour” (the time of day where nobody is actually rushing) so the aforementioned hypotheses seem to be good ones…when you spot the real cause of your traffic ailment, a police officer…”directing” traffic. It’s not the fact that the cop is directing traffic that has you wondering what the heck is going on…it’s the fact they are doing it when the traffic lights are working perfectly! Yes, the lights are operating as they should, but there is a cop directing traffic anyway…sometimes against the light, sometimes attempting to go along with the light…but all the time making a holy mess of traffic, unnecessarily. I have a few friends that are police officers, and would love for them to clarify for me…why?

   So you’re sitting in traffic (again) and you see a bus go by with a bike on the front secured to a bike rack. Umm…if you have a bike that is working fine, then why is it on the bus rack while you are riding the bus? Can’t you simply ride the bike where you need to go? Now, I get there are some obvious situations that would explain why you would see such a thing, like the bike has a flat tire or is in some way damaged that would prevent riding. I’ll even concede the person was simply tired and decided to take a break. Really though, if you’re going to be biking and need to ride the bus during your travels, you probably should stop using the bike and stay with the bus because when I see you get off the bus, don your helmet while wearing you racing gear, all I’m thinking is…why?

   So you’re at the supermarket (after finally getting out of traffic because of the cop) and you grab a few items you need before making your way home. You go to the front of the store to check out, and see a line that goes down the isle and around the corner. No big deal, since you got only a few items, you’ll go to the express lane except….that long line IS for the express lane. Wait..what…? If everyone that has twelve items or less, regardless of the status of any of the other lanes, actually takes a spot in that line, it’s no longer “express” now is it? I mean, when you can go to a regular line and still get through it before that last person that was in the express line can get through….the express line is probably too long. I’ve always thought that maybe they put the slowest cashier in the express lane and the fastest in the other lanes to even them out….but when the fast person is really fast and slow person is really slow, it results in an express line that isn’t really express….and me looking at all the drones in that line and wondering…why?

   I’m not the smartest guy in the world….I’m not even the smartest guy in the room when I’m sitting in one by myself (huh?), but I’m inquisitive enough to wonder about these things, and perceptive enough to even notice them in the first place. Like I said earlier, perhaps I’m the one having a comprehension issue and the true logic is escaping me…or, perhaps not.