Not so much a ripping yarn, more of a dripping yarn, Yates’ reinterpretation of the Lord Of The Jungle is a big disappointment.
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Skarsgård himself is fairly bland as Greystoke, delivering a po-faced Byronic spin on the character, all velvet coats and dreamy romantic stares at his belle while sitting barefooted in the boughs of trees. But at least the animals are memorable – best of all is a pack of scene-stopping silverback gorillas digitally created for the movie. This Tarzan isn’t quite the jungle VIP – but it’s got a little swing.
Don’t be fooled by the lack of spandex: The Legend of Tarzan turns the Lord of the Apes into just another superhero, the newest movie about fiction’s greatest wild man memorable only for the dull irony of how housebroken it feels.
It’s nice that The Legend Of Tarzan isn’t a nakedly mercenary franchise play that presumes dozens of sequels to come. (It’s also not a low-rent Casper Van Dien vehicle.) But it sure could use some money-grubbing set pieces to tie the genial silliness together.
The Legend of Tarzan ends up being a garbled, clunky production that tries to please everyone and ends up pleasing no one.
As a brand, Burroughs’ hero has always been schlocky, and no amount of psychological depth or physical perfection can render him otherwise if the filmmakers can’t swing a convincing interaction between Tarzan and his animal allies. That dynamic — along with his full-throated yodel — has always been Tarzan’s trademark, but in this relatively lifeless incarnation, it simply doesn’t register.
You have to admire the sheer physical scope of this epic, even if there are no animals in it.
The result is a “Legend” that feels inoffensively modern, or at least less offensive than it could have been...But you can’t make a bold statement or exciting action picture when every frame is filled with fear — of offending someone, of upsetting animal rights activists, of giving the audience a Tarzan they won’t recognize, of failure.
Alexander Skarsgard is more abs than actor as the ape man, and Margot Robbie's Jane looks about as 19th-Century as an Aussie surfer girl. Together, they produce all the real-life passion of an Abercrombie & Fitch ad.
The Legend of Tarzan isn't half-bad; actually, it's pretty good. Beautifully made and smartly set at the beginning of Belgian King Leopold II's rapacious colonization of the Congo in the 1880s, this is certainly the best live-action Tarzan film in many a decade (which, admittedly, isn't saying much) and offers a well-judged balance of vigorous action and engaging-enough drama.