Legend of Tarzan: First Thoughts
Disclaimer: I totally only watched Legend of Tarzan just to see Alexander Skarsgård half-naked (seriously, look at that glorious bod). There might also be slight spoilers to the plot of the film in this post, so don’t scroll past this unless you’re okay being spoiled.
You have been warned.
Yeah, see that caption? That’s definitely what happened.
My first impressions about the movie came from watching its trailers. I did not expect much from it aside from abs and glorious CG animals (because why would they get actual, real, endangered animals portraying violence, right?), and I came out of the theater with so much more. What I didn’t expect about the film was how they subtly tackled heavy issues like environmental exploitation/conservation and slavery.
One of the scenes in the film had a very long supply train filled with the bloodied tusks of elephants. Another train had cars of slaves chained to each other by their necks. The film, while a great action-packed adventure, had more impact than the trailers would lead you to believe.
But let’s go through the film together. The plot focuses on a detail about Tarzan from the book by Edgar Rice Burroughs, and it doesn’t tell you what it is directly. You see John Clayton III (Alexander Skarsgård) at the start of the film, and not Tarzan, and you’re left to wonder what the film is going to be about. Interspersed throughout the film, you see tidbits of John-slash-Tarzan’s early life: as an infant adopted by Kala, his apemother, growing up in the jungles of Africa, and slowly hinting at why Chief Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou) asks Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz) to bring Tarzan to him.
At the start of the film, we are also introduced to a guest at N0. 10 Downing Street: George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson), who has ulterior motives when convinces John Clayton to go back and bring him to the Congo. Alright, I have to confess, I was very suspicious of Williams’ character at this point because we’ve all seen what happened in Kingsman, right? That shit ain’t good. However, Jackson’s character proves to be so much more and ends up being John’s friend– after much comic relief moments.
Of course, going back to Africa meant Tarzan’s wife, Jane (Margot Robbie) coming along, whether he liked it or not. Not gonna lie, I loved Jane in this movie. She’s not just a damsel in distress when Rom captures her and their friends. She fights him in her own way, as much as she can– although one can’t help but think of her as a damsel in distress for more than half the movie. I can’t blame her, though, she’s always in chains, and you can’t run very far while in chains.
There is a lot of violence in this film, coming both from humans and animals. Mostly humans shooting endangered animals, humans beating other humans up, and animals being, well, animals. You also see a lot of scenes taken from the original source, the book. Although never named, we see Sabor who threatens Tarzan’s “tribe,” Kala and Kerchack, Tarzan’s adoptive apemother and brother, as well lots of Tarzan being street-smart in both the urban and actual jungles– so unlike how pop culture has portrayed him so far.
The best scenes for me were scenes where you see nature in its finest. Large, lush green trees. Dangerous rivers with its dangerous animals. Speaking of which, the start of the film even foreshadows a thrilling scene much later in the film. I found it pretty clever.
And if you think you wouldn’t hear the classic Tarzan yell from a very refined and reformed John Clayton III? Think again.
Overall, I’d give this movie a 4/5.
Now go watch this film when it airs today!