Film Review: The Legend of Tarzan

by Evan Brown

Rated M. Starring Alexander Skarsgård, Samuel L. Jackson, Margot Robbie. Directed by David Yates.

Human. Nature.

The summer movie season is here and so is the heatwave of big blockbusters hitting our big screens. From the distant jungles of Africa (or perhaps a CGI studio in South Melbourne) David Yates’ The Legend of Tarzan comes in swinging, starring two of Hollywood’s most beautiful actors of 2016 – Alexander Skarsgård and Margot Robbie. Add Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz as the villain, Samuel L. Jackson as the comic, a lot of computer generated animals and then slap them all on camera with zero regard to a quality script or plotline and you’ve got yourself a summer movie. Besides…who really needs a good script when you can just have a half-naked Skarsgård fighting computer animated animals?

I do… And I’m assuming most film enthusiasts would as well.

As we meet our half-naked hero, Tarzan (Skarsgård) and Jane (Robbie) are already married and living in London as the Earl and Lady of Greystoke.  The now assimilated Earl has been summoned back to the Congo jungle by the King of Belgium and by George Washington Williams (Jackson) for some reason – it’s a bit convoluted. Tarzan Earl Greystoke, Jane and George Washington Williams go to the Congo, where Jane is kidnapped by Leon Rom (Waltz) and his band of thugs… what a damsel! Now an enraged Tarzan must summon his inner animal that lies dormant within, in order to track her down using his jungle skills.

During the rescue mission, Tarzan and George discover that the King of Belgium is enforcing slave labour upon the Congo tribes to build his trains. Now Tarzan must not only rescue Jane, but also emancipate most of the Congo! This immediately reminded me of one of Asaph’s psalms (Ps 82:3-4) where God instructs us to:

Defend the weak and the fatherless;
    uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
    deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

God has a special heart for the poor and powerless and we see that in Jesus’ ministry whilst he was walking the earth. Is your heart like aligned like this or is this something just in your peripheral vision?

This provokes good thought, however The Legend of Tarzan would have been helped by an origin story or even a romantic sub-plotline. Instead, there’s just some vague flashbacks that skip all character development and interesting parts of the story, resulting in disinterest, and feeling apathetic to the main characters. This was disappointing, and even Christoph Waltz and his acting pedigree couldn’t save it. It felt like this movie was just an excuse to cram as much CGI into every scene as possible.

The Verdict: If you want to experience literary nostalgia go watch Steven Spielberg’s The BFG. Best to wait until The Legend of Tarzan hits your recommended viewing list on Netflix so you can scroll through social media on your phone whilst it’s on in the background. 1/5

The Legend of Tarzan is screening now in cinemas worldwide.

For more film reviews from a Christian perspective, connect with Reel Gospel on Facebook and Twitter.

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