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The Legend of Tarzan

  • Film
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Ten best films for kids this summer: Legend of Tarzan
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Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

The king of the jungle returns to wow us all with his swinging style and spectacular pecs

This high-energy, big-budget new spin on the old Tarzan story is fun to watch if you take it as throwaway kitsch. It imagines Viscount Greystoke (Alexander Skarsgård), best known as chest-beater Tarzan, all grown-up and civilised after a childhood in the jungle raised by apes. It’s the 1880s and Greystoke is back in the African Congo as a trade emissary for the British government and facing down colonial skullduggery.

The film plays as an old-school historical action-adventure, with lots of animal attacks and jungle chases and plenty of distracting flashbacks to answer questions about Tarzan’s complicated backstory. Still, it might leave you scratching your head with a few questions of your own, like: where does Greystoke buy his shaving razors in the wilds? And, more importantly, which jungle gym does he visit to work on those freakishly sculpted and very twenty-first-century abs? (Not that fans of Skarsgård will worry too much about that.)

Directed by ‘Harry Potter’ stalwart David Yates, this ‘Tarzan’ tries hard to be more than a creaky adventure story. It gives Tarzan’s other half Jane (Margot Robbie) the voice of a twentieth-century feminist – not exactly credible but very welcome – and pays some attention to the exploitation of indigenous peoples and the pilfering of natural resources. The most lively performances come from Christoph Waltz, preening and over-cooked as a colonial villain (an envoy of the Belgian King Leopold) and Samuel L Jackson as George Washington Williams, a real-life critic of Belgian imperialism in the Congo, who is awkwardly shoe-horned into this movie’s comic-book plot.

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.

Dave Calhoun
Written by
Dave Calhoun

Release Details

  • Release date:Wednesday 6 July 2016

Cast and crew

  • Director:David Yates
  • Screenwriter:Adam Cozad, Craig Brewer
  • Cast:
    • Alexander Skarsgard
    • Margot Robbie
    • Samuel L. Jackson
    • Christoph Waltz
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