I love how they set the story in the mid life of Tarzan's life. He is already Lord Greystoke and is quite content with staying in England where his is safe and warm and clean and lives with his beautiful wife Jane and enjoys all the perks of his place in aristocratic society. It's been a decade since the two of them have been back to Africa. The details of his childhood are shown through flashbacks and that is the perfect way to deal with an origin that we all know and have seen to death.
Situations with global implications involving the Congo and King Leopold II of Belgium draw our hero back to the land of his birth for a whole new adventure where he vanquishes an old enemy and makes several friends along the way while reuniting with the Ape tribe that raised him. It's classic old school storytelling and it worked for me. Tarzan is bigger than life. He is practically a superhero and deserves a story that allows him to perform as such.
Alexander Skarsgård is a great Tarzan and totally believable in the role and Margot Robbie as Jane is just the kind of girl you would fight and die for so their love story rings true. They have passion and their first meeting is charming and sexy. Margot Robbie is the real deal. This summer will be huge for her especially with this one and Suicide Squad.
Samuel L. Jackson of all people fits in as an American investigating the use of slaves by Leopold to maintain his crumbling empire. What he finds is shocking and the movie does not shy away from that reality. Jackson is playing a real life character who was in the Congo during the genocide and reported much of it to the world. I enjoyed his inclusion.
The adventure and the set pieces are thrilling if a little far fetched at times. I didn't care about those little details. I am happy that someone went a little full retard on such a high concept as Tarzan. The guy has been in over 200 movies and I have seen dozens of them. Tarzan is one of those pulp characters that I love so it's tough to make a Tarzan movie that I will hate because you can't stray too far from the source material. You can't change the story we all know. I have seen the worst and the best of those attempts and this one is definitely one of my favorites.
I liked the way the wove in the real life truth about the genocide in the Belgian Congo and the atrocities that were committed in the search for resources and people to exploit. Christoph Waltz's character is based on a real Belgian asshole. He's the perfect bad guy to hate because he really doesn't have any redeeming qualities. Nothing to love here.
Such a big concept as Tarzan needs a big battle to fight and this one certainly qualifies. Tarzan is out to save the entire Congo. How he EVENS the odds against overwhelming firepower is very cool to watch and I wish they had kept it out of the trailer.
I have heard and read some critics taking this one down but I would for this once like to know how audiences felt leaving the theatre. There are many scenes here that took my breath away and I felt more entertained watching this picture than I have been at the movies all year. I am sure that other people would see it my way.
This one and The Jungle Book would make a great double-bill for an afternoon in the Jungle.