Edgar Rice Burroughs classic story of an orphan boy raised by apes in the jungle gets another movie version, and this one picks up his story once Tarzan – real name John Clayton (Skarsgard) – has returned to life in England with his wife Jane (Robbie).
They have spent eight years in what seems to be a permanently rainy London (well, at least the filmmakers got that right) in a ridiculously large mansion, so when the call of the wild comes, off our hero goes with Jane alongside in a series of floaty and impractical outfits. They are accompanied by George Washington Williams (Jackson, playing for laughs), who wants to prove that the Belgian King Leopold is using Africans as slave labour in the Congo, under the instruction of nasty businessman Leon Rom (Waltz). Rom surprisingly wants the king of the jungle back in Africa, as he has struck a deal with one of Tarzan’s enemies, Chief MBonga (Hounsou).
While Skarsgard looks the part – all six pack and tousled hair – he isn’t given much to do here apart from grunting a bit at ape relatives and swinging from the occasional tree. He never seems very bothered when Jane is in danger and therefore neither is the audience – it is hard to get worried for the damsel when the hero doesn’t look particularly perturbed about her predicament.
Jackson, as the annoying comic relief, is wasted, as is Hounsou, despite his character’s back story being far more interesting than that of Waltz’s central baddie whose only motivation seems to be cash.
There’s not enough adventure, either (how can there be, when Jane is held captive on a river steamer going at about 2mph?), so it would be nice to say at this point that the jungle setting and animal CGI saves the movie, but sadly it’s pretty dodgy-looking, especially when you consider the stunning computer generated animals in 2016’s The Jungle Book, released only months before this. Here, a buffalo stampede looks ridiculous, while a scene with Tarzan and pals trying to outswing a moving train is laughable as each jungle vine seems to be about five miles long.
A disappointing jungle excursion.
Is The Legend Of Tarzan suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
This film is a 12A certificate and is suitable for older children (10+). There are a few scenes in which characters are in danger, including a fight between man and ape, and some characters are killed, but little blood is shown.