Legend of Tarzan

(Warner Bros)

 

Tarzan and Jane return to Africa after hearing reports of possible slave trading, and to see first hand the progress King Leopold II is making in colonizing the Congo.

 

Rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, some sensuality and brief rude dialogue.

Genre: Action/Adventure

Viewer Appeal: Ages 12 and up.

 

Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard) may be from the jungle, but he's not living there any more. Years after being rescued from Africa, he and his wife, Jane (Margot Robbie) have returned to London to live in the family mansion, where he insists his name not Tarzan, but John Clayton, Viscount of Greystoke. He sips tea with his pinkie extended and simply wants to be accepted as a member of the House of Lords. He certainly does not want to accept an invitation from King Leopold II of Belgium to witness how the Congo has been colonized. That is, until he meets George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson), who tells him of rumors of slave trading and the horrors facing the people of the Congo. Which is something from which John cannot turn.

 

Unbeknownst to John, Jane, and George, King Leopold II didn't really extend a goodwill invitation to show off the improvements being made in Africa. Instead the offer was made by the King's liaison, Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz), in an effort to lure John into a trap. Once in Africa, Rom's plan is to kidnap Tarzan and turn him over to Chief Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou) to be killed. As with any good adventure, the plot thickens. But what starts as a decent plotline, ends up being predictable and simply okay. The three adventurers foil the plans of Rom, who kidnaps Jane and uses her as bait. Tarzan tracks Rom and the movie ends with animals, mayhem, and lots of action.

 

A less-than-stellar plot isn't always a movie killer though, and The Legend of Tarzan is filled with great actors, beautiful scenery, and pretty cool CGI. But was the "pretty cool" stuff enough to detract from a weak plot? Not really. The action portion of the movie was spotty. The actors are amazing, but none of them sparkled. But what I found most lacking was the character of Tarzan himself. Did he "talk" to the animals? Not really. He touched an elephant on the forehead, and they seemed to "commune" for a moment in peace for a moment, but his interaction with the animals was minimal and wanting. He was more reserved and refined that I wanted him to be...there was nothing wild about John/Tarzan. And what I really wanted to know was why Tarzan was clean shaven in the flashbacks? He had long dreadlocks, but no beard. Apparently Tarzan grows no facial hair.

 

But I digress. This is a movie best saved for renting. It wasn't horrid, but it wasn't spectacular. It was ok, but not great. This is one to save for pizza and movie night.

 

Let's Talk About It

Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:

 

• Why do you think John was hesitant about returning to Africa, when it was his home for so may years?

 

• Chief Mbonga said Tarzan acted without honor when he killed the Chief's son. Should Tarzan have been held to "honor" when he was raised as an animal? Explain.

 

• Rom and the King of Belgium were easily tempted by diamonds, and were willing to kill and enslave for the promise of riches. While your temptations might not lead you to killing, what are you tempted by?

 

--JW

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