It’s half good. I’m willing to bet that a lot of us grew up watching Tarzan movies. Johnny Weissmuller, Gordon Scott, Christopher Lambert in “Greystoke”…each of us had a favorite. So, I had a certain level of anticipation, when this feature was slated for release. Then…a sizable number of the “big” critics savaged it. They are half right. For a good deal of its running time, “The Legend of Tarzan” is leaden, stagnant, sports a terrible performance from sex symbol, Margot Robbie, plus an over-the top one from Samuel L. Jackson. However, the other portion is lively, inspired, with a superb performance from Alexander Skarsgard…and an over-the-top one from Samuel L. Jackson.
Listen, the film mines some magic from both the Lord Greystoke stuff, and the jungle romp. There’s typical Hollywood bad guy doings, as Tarzan (Mr. Skarsgard) is summoned back to the wild, after a stay in civilization. The bad guy is after some rare diamonds, or something. Who cares? Oh, but Christoph Waltz is the bad guy, and that usually works out okay. It does here. Unfortunately, Margot Robbie as Jane, seems completely bewildered by what tone to reach. It’s the worst I’ve seen her. Hopefully, she’s not just another pretty face.
“The Legend of Tarzan” certainly resembles 1984’s “Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes”…and that works in its favor. But where it fails is in the occasional stilted dialogue, and an over-reliance on CGI-generated jungle beasts. “Harry Potter” veteran, David Yates, directs with a good deal of flair, but he’s still created a mixed bag. It ain’t awful, it’s certainly flawed, but I admire its ambition. In other words, you could do much worse.