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Wick's Review

Created Jul 04, 2016 10:26PM PST • Edited Nov 17, 2018 01:37PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Great 4.0

    The Legend of Tarzan is a ton of fun, notwithstanding being leavened by some seriously nasty business. How much fun? Most everyone around me were laughing and cheering by the third reel. One girl took to throwing her arms in the air at each thrilling turn. In the end, the entire theater applauded … for a movie.

    Ignore the professional naysayers, who damn this very contemporary production with misguided criticism, e.g., it traffics in trendy anti-colonialism. But Belgium’s colonization of the Congo is the low hanging fruit of anti-colonialism. The Belgians’ corrupt, incompetent and genocidal dominion make them ideal villains.

    Four terrific stars make the movie. Two are reliably great moviestars, while another may be joining them.

    • The least important is the über-hunky Alexander Skarsgård, though he is a great Tarzan.
    • Margot Robbie’s Jane is her best role yet, brimming with pulchritude, pluckiness and panache.
    • Samuel L. Jackson delivers most of the punchlines as Tarzan’s American wingman. He’s also an African-American in Africa to stop the local slave trade some 15 years after the Civil War. Cool.
    • The critical role of the villain is filled unctuously well by the estimably unctuous Christoph Waltz.

    Every touchstone gets rubbed, often ironically before seriously. From “Me Tarzan, you Jane”, to swinging from vines and communicating with wild beasts, to the iconic Tarzan yell, all are present and accounted for.

    The Legend of Tarzan easily becomes the best Tarzan ever, which is notable since IMDb lists 119 of them. It joins Casino Royal, Star Trek, Robert Downey Jr’s Sherlock Holmes and even Brett Ratner’s Hercules in consummately rebooting an iconic movie franchise for our ironic age. That’s worthy of a legend.

  3. Great 4.0

    Samuel L. Jackson, Margot Robbie and Christoph Waltz are such fun, they liven up the movie every time they appear on screen. Alexander Skarsgård has a different job as Tarzan, which he wears well.

    Skarsgård looks the part, if possible, having gained 24 pounds of muscle through four months of training and a 7,000 calorie daily diet. He ably fills both sides of the dual role, the refined John Clayton III, Lord Greystoke and the animalistic Tarzan. Yet he’s a bit of a bore. That’s why the other three stars are so vital.

    Samuel L. Jackson’s booming voice and big American personality provides plenty of ironic narrative and not a little moral focus as the well named George Washington Williams.

    Margot Robbie plays Jane, as in “Me Tarzan, you Jane.” She’s adorably pretty, yet clearly an intrepid woman in her own right. I was underwhelmed by her in The Wolf of Wall Street and Focus, but not here. She’s funny and sassy and strong. This is the starring role she needed to shine on her own. Bravo!

    Christoph Waltz’s cunning and merciless colonial overlord invites comparison to his SS Jew hunter in Inglorious Basterds. So what. Nobody does unctuous evil better.

    Others in the Enormous Cast

    • Jim Broadbent seems more addled than edifying as the British Prime Minister
    • Djimon Hounsou is appropriately fierce as a native Chief.
    • Christian Stevens & Rory J. Saper as the 5 and 18 Year Old Tarzans, respectively
    • Hadley Fraser & Genevieve O’Reilly as Tarzan’s parents, the poor sods
  4. Male Stars Really Great 4.5
  5. Female Stars Really Great 4.5
  6. Female Costars Very Good 3.5
  7. Male Costars Very Good 3.5
  8. Great 4.0

    Edgar Rice Burroughs created what is arguably the first superhero in Tarzan. In the capable hands of Harry Potter director David Yates, the Lord of the Jungle swings very well into 21st century multiplexes.

  9. Direction Really Great 4.5
  10. Play Great 4.0

    Adam Cozad & Craig Brewer’s screenplay is notable as much for its wit as for its avenging thrills.

  11. Music Very Good 3.5
  12. Visuals Really Great 4.5

    The great apes and lions and rampaging hippos are obviously animated, but it doesn’t matter, since the whole contraption is such blockbuster fun.

    The subtle 3D is also worth it, but far from essential.

  13. Content
  14. Risqué 2.0
  15. Sex Titillating 1.7
  16. Violence Brutal 2.6
  17. Rudeness Salty 1.7
  18. Supernatural 3.5

    Nevermind the movie’s 3.5x normal reality R-factor. That’s expected in a de facto superhero movie.

    Tarzan is more interesting for the light it shines on the Belgians’ colonial abuses and the fact that slavery in Africa was a reality well after the American Civil War. Hell, it persists to the present day.

  19. Circumstantial Surreal 2.5
  20. Biological Supernatural 4.0
  21. Physical Supernatural 4.0


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