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The Legend Of Tarzan  : Swinging Without Style
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Friday, July 1, 2016
David Yates
Alexander Skarsgård, Rory J. Saper, Christian Stevens, Christoph Waltz


Of course, the best part of the ape boy story is Alexander Skarsgard, Tarzan himself, with a kind, humane face and a kadak, hunky body. He doesn’t really need to act.


But otherwise, especially coming on the heels of a far superior Jungle Book 2, The Legend Of Tarzan is an astonishingly tame foray into the wild animal world.


Tarzan has left the jungles far behind. He’s now a member of the House of Lords, a part of British aristocracy. He’s John Clayton 111, also known as Lord Greystoke. And England is home, as he reminds Lady Jane, his wife.


In Africa, crafty Leon Rom, envoy to evil Belgian King Leopold, has a masterplan in place. He connives to bring Tarzan back there as a guest of the King but Lord Greystoke sips his tea and says, ‘No’.


It’s only when Samuel Jackson playing George Washington Williams tells him that this would be the best way to get documentary proof that King Leopold has been illegally enslaving most of the continent, that it’s time for John to swing back into action. He may be English but the natives in trouble are his family.  


Do you really need Lady Jane around? I guess to bring in primate mating calls or have the villain whisk her away sure that Tarzan will follow, Lady Jane had to throw a royal tantrum and come along uninvited.


A lot of critics would fault the absence of super slick special effects and it is particularly tacky in this jungle story. But in a way, it’s also a refreshing hark back to good old times when computer graphics didn’t replace all the heroics.


Pairing a white and a black together is patent Hollywood formula but it does work when Samuel Jackson is partnered with Skarsgard. The right dose of amusement is provided when the Black American on a mission tries to keep pace with Tarzan and the ways of the jungle.


But where director David Yates doesn’t succeed is in taking you on a riveting safari and telling you an engrossing story on the way. Even at 109 minutes, there’s no nail-biting anticipation of action or cuddly moments with the animals. And though the hearty Tarzan cry is heard, there’s no visual of the chest-thumping animal cry. Perhaps Lord Greystoke is too genteel to be seen in his feral avatar.


For a family outing with an old-world mix of action and amusement plus a cause to chase till a happy ending, The Legend Of Tarzan gets a 3* rating.


Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan

Senior Journalist & Author
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