Watching The Legend of Tarzan, I began to wonder if there are any snakes or scorpions in the Congo that possess sleep-inducing venom.
Director David (Harry Potter) Yates’ ode to Alexander Skarsgard’s neck muscles nearly put me in a trance, and no, not because of the actor’s ripped bod.
Our hero, John Clayton, aka Tarzan (Skarsgard), is the British aristocrat raised by the apes in the African jungle. It’s 1884, and John and his alarmingly empowered wife Jane (Margot Robbie), have lived in grey, rainy England for the past decade.
Enter George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson), based on a real-life activist, pastor, writer, and American Civil War veteran. The movie takes this little-known but towering figure and teams him up with Tarzan to investigate the Belgian King Leopold’s Congo Free State, which he runs as his personal fief.
An agent for the King, Leon Rom, schemes to turn Tarzan over to a local chief (Djimon Hounsou) in exchange for diamonds that will solve Leopold’s debt problems. Rom (Christoph Waltz) kidnaps Jane, and Tarzan and George give chase.
Yates and writers Adam Cozad (the 2014 Jack Ryan reboot) and Craig Brewer have had the admittedly tricky task of tackling the imperialist baggage of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ tale and producing a blockbuster for a global audience.
But as soon as the opening sequence’s mists clear, what emerges is a pretty unremarkable reboot with some sub-par CGI – there is nothing in this jungle that likes to bite.
Even the actors can’t liven it up much; Samuel L. Jackson’s wisecracks bounce straight off Skarsgard’s abs, while Margot Robbie seems bored, and almost banking on Suicide Squad to launch her to stardom.
Indiana Jones might have read Tarzan in his youth, but this is Indiana Jones minus the gusto and the comic touches.
‘The Legend of Tarzan’ stars: Alexander Skarsgard, Samuel L Jackson, Christophe Waltz, Margot Robbie