I think we can all agree that Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan literary hero is an inherently silly creation. Concocted as a reactionary tale to Kipling’s Jungle Book, Tarzan is as much about class, human rights, environmental protection, and burgeoning sexuality, as it is about a man running around in a loincloth.
After a decade of being away from the jungles of Africa’s Congo Basin, Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) has been reintegrated into English society, and taken on the proper title of Lord John Clayton III. Now, married to the feisty Jane (Margot Robbie), Clayton has no intention of returning to his homeland and the danger’s that accompany the visit. However, Tarzan is lured back to the wild by the daffy, sharply dressed Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz).
Rom plans to capture Tarzan and deliver him to a revenge-minded tribal chief (Djimon Hounsou) in exchange for an endless supply of diamonds. When Jane becomes a pawn in his devious plot, Tarzan must return to the jungle to save the woman he loves. Accompanied by war hero George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson), the duo team with Tarzan’s adopted tribe to stop the greedy mercenaries from ravaging the natrual beauty of the jungle. Also in Tarzan’s way is a running feud with a massive Gorilla, who may be out to kill the former ‘king of the jungle’.
The Legend of Tarzan takes a revisionist approach to the material and it works for this retelling. It’s not as serious a picture as Greystoke: Lord of the Apes nor as silly as Tarzan the Ape Man (1981) or Trazan and the Lost City (1998). Alexander Skarsgård may have the title role and toned torso but Samuel L. Jackson is the real scene-stealer, his logical musings and disbelief are welcomed bits of levity and comedic relief.
Director: David Yates
Stars: Alexander Skarsgård, Samuel L. Jackson, Margot Robbie