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Legend of Tarzan Review!

Jondee here at the Belgian Congo,

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The “Me Tarzan” stereotype is persistent, even nodded to in this film, but the character apart from Johnny Weismuller to Ron Ely went through many incarnations. The closest was Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, but that film went astray and of course there was even a Disney cartoon. I finally got to read Edgar Rice Burroughs novel and what struck me besides Tarzan’s intelligence (he could understand English before he could speak it!) was the world building (a complete language and setting even though he never actually traveled to Africa). Also, he has never gone to Barsoom (or Mars as you call it), but detailed that world thirty years before the publication of Lord of the Rings. So that brings us to David Yates vision of ERB’s iconic character. This film was completed in 2014 so this is why Yates also has Fantastic Beasts coming up on November 18th. This puts Fantastic Beasts at the top of my list. The film opens in the Belgian Congo where we get the explanation that King Leopold hopes to take control of the region and has sent Captain Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz) to get the rumored diamonds in lost Opar. Waltz is brutal, but also creepy and calculating.  He has soldiers line up to shoot into the fog taking out tribesmen. Then, he uses two shields to protect himself as his soldiers are taken down by warriors using the old breathe through the reed trick. Rom is fighter himself using his bracelet as a weapon to ultimately face Chief Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou). Their deal is diamonds will be given to the Belgians for one person who rhymes with Marzipan. This shifts to the blue saturated dark tones of London, England. A meeting is taking place that is announced that the Belgian government has invited John Clayton III of the Greystokes to check on the Congo.

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Also at the meeting is an American representative, George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson, so that’s where Nick Fury ended up), he shows a pamphlet of Tarzan. Lord Greystoke (Alexander Skarsgard) complete in a suit is unimpressed and refuses. Skarsgard has all of the dimensions of Tarzan, the animals are as much his family as others, he’s thinking working out Rom’s plan, and of course athletic, when finally vine swinging, and also the sleek build, not a Conan muscular build.  Later, Williams confesses that he wants to document King Leopold’s activities in the Congo and Greystoke agrees. He returns to the Greystoke Estate, a cold manor, where his wife, Jane Clayton (Margot Robbie) is busy preparing for the return. Her husband wants her to stay, but she has climbed up a tree to get away, he easily swings up it and wants her to be protected on their trip. In Africa, the trio starts hiking, Tarzan, Jane, and George Washington. Tarzan rushes up to nuzzle next to several lionesses, many of the CG animals are realistic, but not the wonder of Jungle Book, don’t expect it. We see the connections Tarzan has with animals, but then after Rom tries to catch them at the dock, they return to the village and Tarzan and Jane have returned to their family. In returning to their home, we get flashbacks connected to the narrative; of his parents dying by their treehouse, of the infant Tarzan being found by the Mangani ape (a more violent species) Kala, facing the ape that killed his father Kerchak, and finally meeting Jane. Rom has found the village, takes Jane hostage, captures Tarzan and has him bound in a stranglehold. Williams manages to free Tarzan and they have to pursue Jane (who is less damsel in distress and able to take care of herself) and Rom along with village warriors. Tarzan tells Williams he can’t keep up, but he struggles to use his rifle in the battle to free slaves used to build railroads. I really like the scene where Tarzan corrects Williams with the proper pronunciation of zebra, “zeh-bor-ah.” He also has to return to Opar and face Chief Mbonga who wants revenge for Tarzan killing his son. The 3D action is impressive, especially when Tarzan swings on the vines (more breathtaking than the jungle surfing in the Disney cartoon). The tone feels very Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan should overtake Rom, but this is about the journey. Missing is all of the language, besides the Sabor, they run into Tantors, Jane faces a Duro, and finally Gimlas. The famous yell is also off screen, but we will give it here, Four Yells out of Five!