This is the second time Warner Bros. Pictures has done this. They take a popular property that was perfected by Disney to make their own live action blockbuster type story. Last year they did Pan which was universally panned. Next year, Andy Serkis will do his take on The Jungle Book. And now we have David Yates' The Legend of Tarzan which should be its own thing right?
In the late 1880's, it has been years since the man once known as Tarzan left the jungles of Africa—where he was raised by the great apes—behind for an aristocratic life in Victorian London as John Clayton, 3rd Viscount Greystoke, with his beloved wife, Jane Porter at his side. Now, he has been invited back to the Congo Free State to serve as a trade emissary of the House of Commons, unaware that he is a pawn in a deadly convergence of greed and revenge, masterminded by the corrupt Belgian Captain Léon Rom.
Its hard trying to differentiate these films against Disney, because a majority of us moviegoers are more affectionately drawn to them then these live action films (unless they're also made made by Disney). Personally, Tarzan is my favorite animated film so it is hard to take my prejudice aside until I saw an old 1960s Tarzan series on my TV. I had to realize and remind myself there is more than one Tarzan story and this is one of them, so I was prepared.
What is good about this Tarzan film is its heart. There is not much genuine emotion to it, but it does have a good heart. There is a good message about animal preservation and human enslavement through the film. There are moments you root for Tarzan saving slaves and animals which results in a cool action sequence.
With a respectable cast as this, you would think there would be great performances but the only person that marginally stands out is Samuel L. Jackson. Though he has a constant "what the hell am I doing here" expression the entire time, he dishes out the best of what he's given which makes him the most entertaining piece out of the entire film. Skarsgård makes for a good Tarzan and the scenes shared with Jackson makes the adventure worth watching.
Though Jackson is great, the rest of the cast is sleep walking through the entire film. Margot Robbie, a great actress tries her best to hide her accent and you can hear the slips every now and then her character is not much than a damsel in distress. Christoph Waltz is not doing much in this than being a mustache twirling villain.
The story now is extremely weak. It tries to be stylistic by having the same type of Tree of Life origin setup that Man of Steel had. But when it's for telling the story of Tarzan, you just don't care. This film is too intense and a bit inappropriate to be an introduction to Tarzan to children and too dull for adults to be invested, so its hard to figure out the demographic for this film. In the end most of us already know the story of Tarzan, so it's very unnecessary for this film to even exist.
The effects is fine and all, but it suffers the exact same thing 2013's The Lone Ranger possessed; value. This film has no value to it. It doesn't have enough value to go out and scream OH MY GOD YOU NEED TO SEE THIS! Its just there as a summer blockbuster movie, but there are so many better and entertaining films to go out to see than this. It is not as torturous as Pan for sure, but the film is very dull and generic that you're very bored and just wait for the third act to come into fruition. And even when the third act begins its nothing special. This film is directed by David Yates, the director that bought us the final four Harry Potter films and is to direct the spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to be released in November and this film doesn't scream David Yates. It screams Warner Bros. This isn't a director film, but a studio film and it shows.
Unbalanced performances and a barely entertaining story makes The Legend of Tarzan a film that doesn't do much for audiences other than make you wish you were home watching your 1999 Disney Tarzan movie.