DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

The Legend of Tarzan Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD cover art
The Legend of Tarzan is now available on home video. Read our review of the Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD.

The Legend of Tarzan (2016) movie poster The Legend of Tarzan

Theatrical Release: July 1, 2016 / Running Time: 110 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: David Yates / Writers: Craig Brewer, Adam Cozad (story & screenplay); Edgar Rice Burroughs (the "Tarzan" stories)

Cast: Alexander Skarsgård (John Clayton/Tarzan/Lord Greystoke), Samuel L. Jackson (George Washington Williams), Margot Robbie (Jane Clayton), Djimon Hounsou (Chief Mbonga), Ben Chaplin (Captain Moulle), Jim Broadbent (Prime Minister), Christoph Waltz (Leon Rom)


When you think of Tarzan, you think of a man in a loincloth living with apes out in the wilds of Africa. That serves as the backstory, not the main narrative of The Legend of Tarzan, a new big-budget, live-action tentpole from Harry Potter director David Yates.

Onscreen text establishes the Congo Basin as being purchased in the late 19th century by Belgium's King Leo, who then runs up debt and needs to mine the land for its famous Opar diamonds.

The King's army goes invading the Congo, taking out a number of spear-throwing natives, but eventually being outnumbered and massacred. The one survivor is Captain Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz, adding another to his rogues gallery), who makes a deal with the savage tribe's Chief Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou, sporting a white goatee): diamonds in exchange for Tarzan.

Back in Victorian London, the domesticated and aristocratic Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) now goes by the names John Clayton III and Lord Greystoke. He is unmoved by a board room invitation from the King to return to the Congo as an emissary. On the street, straight-talking Civil War veteran George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson) -- an historical figure not found in Edgar Rice Burroughs' stories -- persuades Tarzan to reconsider. Tarzan's American wife Jane (Margot Robbie) also gets him to reconsider his decision not to let her accompany on this trip.

Thus, Tarzan, Jane, and Williams make the journey to a land where the animals know and respect Tarzan as one of them. Unfortunately, the excursion is an elaborate trap set by Rom to make good on his promise to fulfill the vengeance Chief Mbonga seeks. Flashbacks give us some of Tarzan's past with the apes, as well as his introduction to Jane, though "Me Tarzan, you Jane" is saved for a passing joke from Williams.

In "The Legend of Tarzan", John Clayton III (Alexander Skarsgård) returns to the wilds of Africa he used to call home with George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson).

Legend of Tarzan is a nice-looking production full of striking vistas and sweeping camerawork. The visuals are in 3D, the CGI is plentiful, and the costumes and production design are every bit as unnoticeably suitable as you want and expect them to be. Where the movie disappoints is story. It serves up lots of it and it never resonates, leaving a void that nothing else is able to fill.

The cast is generally good. Indie-seasoned Skarsgård (evidently best known for "True Blood") is not an obvious choice for the title role, but he gives it class and understatement while also meeting the physical needs. Jackson provides some much-needed comic relief, including the funniest and least expected line that the film appreciates enough to keep calling back to. Waltz can do this type of villainy in his sleep, but if not challenged or engaged, he at least is awake as a man who always carries a rosary in his hand and repeatedly uses it as a deadly weapon. Robbie tries to give her character weight, but the part is more a married damsel in need of rescue than a heroine.

Yates, who came to Potter with hardly a theatrical credit to his name and wound up directing the final four movies, is at ease helming a big budget, effects-heavy movie. He has yet to establish a distinctive style, preferring to allow the material and not some bold vision to be the attraction. The result is something technically polished and immersive, without ever elevating to art or even first-rate popcorn entertainment.

Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz) and the Belgian Army find themselves outnumbered in the opening sequence of "The Legend of Tarzan." A red-haired Margot Robbie plays Jane Clayton, here seen as a damsel in distress.

Expensive new takes on familiar stories have practically become a staple of Hollywood over the last few years, with Disney having success at making CG-heavy live-action retellings of their beloved animated classics like Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and The Jungle Book.
As evidenced by this summer's severely underperforming The Huntsman: Winter's War and Alice Through the Looking Glass, not every effort is guaranteed a big audience. With a production budget of $180 million, Legend of Tarzan could seemingly go either way, fading fast among the season's heavy multiplex competition or getting appreciated to a tiny extent of how the more family-friendly The Jungle Book recently was. Like every studio that isn't Disney this year, Warner Bros. Pictures could use a hit and some validation for the tentpole-driven model that most of the studios are embracing.

The film isn't good enough to wish success upon, nor is it bad enough to hope it fails. It is, like many a middling modern summer movie, two hours of sensory engagement that isn't designed to catch people's attentions for more than a couple of weeks.

Related Reviews:
Now in Theaters: The BFGSwiss Army ManNow You See Me 2The Conjuring 2
Directed by David Yates: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
From Edgar Rice Burroughs: John CarterTarzan | Written by Adam Cozad: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Alexander Skarsgard: The GiverWhat Maisie KnewBattleshipThe Diary of a Teenage Girl | Margot Robbie: The Wolf of Wall StreetFocus
Samuel L. Jackson: The Hateful EightJurassic ParkJumperThe SpiritThe Incredibles
Christoph Waltz: Django UnchainedBig EyesSpectreThe Green Hornet

DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

DVDizzy.com Top Stories:

Reviewed July 1, 2016.

Text copyright 2016 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2016 Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures, Ratpac-Dune Entertainment.
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.