The Legend of Tarzan review – awkwardly tame

Despite lavish special effects and the screenwriters’ best efforts to square the story with modern sensibilities, this jungle reboot ain’t quite got that swing

Of The Jungle Book and The Legend of Tarzan, the two rebooted “jungle child” stories to reach our cinemas this year, it’s the latter – the tale of the white British aristocrat who is also Africa’s most famous son and saviour – that sits more awkwardly with contemporary mores.

The film introduces us to Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård), now Lord Greystoke and married to Jane (Margot Robbie), in London. Rehabilitated into polite society, he’s a tea-quaffing member of the establishment. Invited to revisit the Congo by King Leopold of Belgium’s smirking enforcer (Christoph Waltz), Tarzan decides to reconnect with his roots. Feisty proto-feminist Jane refuses to be left behind.

The screenwriters have beefed up the premise with subplots involving colonialism, slavery and the pillaging of Africa’s resources: real-life campaigning journalist George Washington Williams (Samuel L Jackson) is transplanted, somewhat inelegantly, into the story. Harry Potter franchise director David Yates deploys dazzling special effects; the computer-generated gorilla tribe conveys more internecine tensions than a soap opera. But for all his ape-punching, wildebeest-grappling and months of work in the gym, Skarsgård is too tame to convince as a man whose heart is still in the jungle.

The Legend of Tarzan: ‘It’s an adventure movie, it’s not there to educate’


Wendy Ide

The GuardianTramp

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