Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Movie Review: THE LEGEND OF TARZAN


Did you think you knew Tarzan's story? Well, Warner Bros. is here to prove you wrong. In their new re-imagining of the iconic character the story takes place further down the line: Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard) now goes by the name of John Clayton, living as noble lord in London, married to Jane (Margot Robbie). Yet, when Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz), who's trying to conquer Congo for the king of Belgium, invites John down to Congo to set a trap in exchange for diamonds, Tarzan, Jane and his local friends have to find a way to overpower Rom's twisted scheme.


I have to admit that I wasn't anyways intrigued by this film, probably because I was never able to grasp or enjoy the story and mythology behind the titular character. Yet, out of loyalty to David Yates, who in my opinion and probably solely in my opinion, made one of the best films of all time in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, I wanted to go check out his work no matter what. I came out still believing he is a truly gifted director, but not even he could overcome the boring and empty narrative this film contains.

Right from the opening shot Yates manages to create an atmosphere that is unique, different and personal, you are immediately glued to the screen for how he manages to stage visually the movie. There is an immediate tone, I have to admit I was expecting, and it throws you off balance in a good way, my attention was devolved entirely to the film.

As always Yates does fantastic visual storytelling and he had repeatedly moments in the film of slow building and quiet pace that were not at all what I was excepting from a Tarzan film and were definitely a great surprise. He then juxtaposes these moments to sweeping camera movements with incredible swiftness in the times of action an running which were absolutely beautiful and riveting from a solely based on the visual splendor value.

The film also has to be commended for having its heart in a really good place, the wide use of ethnic actors, location, cultural respect and overall message were all things of primal emphasis and they were most certainly a pleasant and story dictated element that really worked. The intentions the filmmakers have are the most noble and whilst their message of respect for nature and culture doesn't really emerge in the context, you can see where they're coming from and it is a very good place.

Unfortunately all of the above is simply undermined by a narrative void of any character depth, interesting theme or coherent structure. It is plainly and simply boring, there is rarely any real danger or stakes, it is full of dull clich├ęs and basically gives nothing to do to any of the actors who almost all appear flat because of it, with the possible exception of Christoph Waltz who does manage to emerge and give the character a beat on screen and a driving cause that you understand.

This adaptation of the legendary story fails to deliver anything of note as a filmmaking effort, yet its good heart and redeemable features make it a harmless film that I still can recommend to families if finding themselves short on things to see.

James's Score: 5/10


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