The Legend of Tarzan is another cinematic attempt to get the classic tales of Edgar Right Burroughs onto the cinema screen. Many attempts have been made down the years, some have even included the warbling tones of Phil Collins to get the job done, this time director David Yates takes the wheel to tell us the tale of the king of the jungle.
The story is set almost a decade after Tarzan/John Clayton III (Alexander Skarsgård) has left the African jungles to take up his place in English high society with his wife Jane (Margot Robbie). Leon Rom (Christophe Waltz) a Belgian envoy lures him back through diplomatic invite, in an attempt to deliver the one time jungle dweller to an old enemy in exchange for diamonds.
It's hard to know where to start with this film. On paper it should work. There is enough talent on board, a decent director and a story that should translate cinematically without major problems. However The Legend of Tarzan struggles its way through nearly two hours without much to write home about. Performances are decent enough and there are at times some nice visuals on display paired with the beautiful sweeping shots of the African plains. However something is missing from the equation.
Truthfully I was bored for large chunks of the film. There was no truly compelling story to be told here. No real threat to be played out and this was even named by Waltz at one point stating 'It doesn't matter. He's Tarzan. You're Jane. He'll come for you'. In some ways that line sums it all up. We know this story plays out from minute one. The ending is assured before any major plot lines have time to develop and that causes a lack of care and/or concern for the viewer.
Another problem is the film's reliance on CGI and green screen that made it hard to believe in any surroundings the characters wandered into or any animal they encounter on their way. One sequence in which Tarzan battles an ape (in an almost MMA fashion) is particularly poor.
Furthermore I am not sure who the target demographic for this film actually is. Certainly in the screening I attended there were a couple of young teenage boys who opted to chat loudly throughout rather than pay attention to what was going on. Normally this would cause great annoyance, but I couldn't blame them really as nothing on screen was entertaining enough to keep their attention. An older audience may be drawn in given the legacy of these characters but I am convinced they too would leave disappointed.
The Legend of Tarzan is not a terrible film by any means. I've watched a lot worse in 2016 (Top Cat Begins & My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 for starters). It's sad to report that it is simply mediocre.
The Legend of Tarzan is in cinemas from 6 July.
Thanks to MovieHouse for screening access.