The Movie: 7.5/10
I enjoyed this new telling of the Tarzan story. I’ll just put that out there. I have not been a Tarzan fan in my life, not really. I have listened to several episodes of the old radio show, which is more comical than action adventure. I did see the 80’s movie version, Greystoke the Legend of Tarzan, and I did enjoy that one too, but not enough to remember much about it. This time around the images, the story, the angle we come at the whole tale have more heft that seem to rattle around in my head more than the other versions.
We meet the Lord of Greystoke 8 years after he has come home from the jungles of Africa. We learn the origin story, of course, his parents built that tree house, had a baby, and then met their demise while their child was then raised by another primate. It’s not clear what primate that actually is, because it’s not a plain old gorilla, so we have a somewhat fictional creature who has taken our little human into their group. He survives, always the moment when you need to establish your bubble of belief around a fictional story, and we get our grown version of the man of the jungle, Tarzan. We don’t get why he’s called that, not that I recall anyway, so that remains a mystery. We do find out how he meets Jane, who is an excellently strong character who matches our hero, not just becoming the “damsel in distress”.
The world is established, the time frame is set, the adventure then comes from the need for our Tarzan to go back to Africa to be part of a political game of chess that becomes more treacherous than the jungle. He is required to swing from vines, work with the animals, fight the foes, all for reasons that don’t just add up to good guy needs to beat the bad guy. We get a bigger picture of the politics and world economics of the day. I like that a lot.
We get a new character played by Samuel Jackson, and I have to say it works for me. He’s on a mission to prove that tribes of Africa are being trapped into slavery by the King of Belgium who has claimed the Congo as his own. Our Nick Fury is driven by what is right and Tarzan is driven by what is right, and the bad guy is driven by what is not right and taps into something more interesting than someone who wants to rule the whole world. So, we have a conflict that makes sense to me and I want to find out what happens to everyone. Sometimes the Tarzan legend gets wrapped up in shallow ideas that fall flat and I am not that bothered how each character ends up, but adding this whole real world element elevated it for me and makes it more compelling.
The look of the movie is awesome, even if there are moments of shaky CGI. There are NO real animals in this movie so the times when their computerized bodies don’t quite fit with my brain’s expectations I can handle it because the sheer amount of “fake” creatures. It’s incredible to see the extras and find out just how much of the world is actually created in a computer, the trees, the landscape, the waterfalls, the landscape that sells my mind on the idea that we are traveling to a place I have never and probably never will be in my life. Take me to places like that and convince me I’m there with the characters and that is what makes me love movies like this so much. It’s not perfect and yes it has some hokey bits and pieces. It’s just all forgivable because the memory of this Tarzan are good, and I would watch it again just to pay more attention to whole world they created for our non-loin-clothed hero to inhabit. Nope, no loin cloth:)
- Tarzan Reborn (15 Minutes) – Director and cast and crew sit down and discuss the origins of the Tarzan story and what it took to bring it to a new audience.
- Tarzan & Jane’s Unfailing Love (6 Minutes) – A look at the relationship between Tarzan & Jane throughout the years.
- Creating The Virtual Jungle (15 Minutes) – This film is about 70% CG and you really would not know it at times. Here we see how that magic happens.
- Gabon To The Screen (3 Minutes) – A look at the part of Africa the film is set in. They never actually went to Africa to film it though thanks to movie magic.
- Stop Ivory (2 Minutes) – A PSA about the Ivory trade.
- UHD, Blu-Ray & UV Digital Copy
Cover Art and Menus: 4/10
It’s fine for what it’s trying to do, get you to focus on Eric the vampire’s new muscles, but other than that it’s boring and does not tell me what this movie is really all about. There are so many other images that could be featured on the cover, so much nature and old timey technology, river boats, or just the iconic image of the tree house Tarzan’s parents survived in…alas, we have this cover and I would not have it as a poster in my movie room.
Audio & Video: 8/10
The Legend Of Tarzan is a wonderful looking film using a LOT of CGI which can look bad if the transfer is not up to snuff. Fortunately Warner have delivered a top-tier disc that does justice to the jungle landscape here. Curiously though Warner still have about 12GB of space free on the Blu-Ray version of the film which they could utilize to make the picture even better not sure why this continues to be an issue.
Dolby Atmos is the order of the day here and boy does it bring Tarzan into your living room. This is a stunning soundtrack with lots of surround and LFE activity throughout. Dialog is clear and centered and the musical score really comes through loud and clear.
Overall Score 7.5/10