King of the jungle “THE LEGEND OF TARZAN”

Release Date: July 1, 2016

Running Time: 1 hour and 50 minutes

Rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, some sensuality and brief rude dialogue

Grade: A

Directed By: David Yates

_L3A6385.dng“A normal man can do the impossible to save the one he loves. My husband is no normal man.

The team (Warner Bros. and David Yates) that brought you last four films in the Harry Potter franchise has delivered a powerful and compelling adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs iconic character Tarzan of the Apes.  I can’t wait to see what they do with The Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

The Legend of Tarzan begins in Africa with Belgian Captain Rom, played by the immensely talented and Academy Award Winning actor Christoph Waltz. Rom is searching for diamonds in the Congo to fund a militia to take over the country, enslave its people and exploit its rich resources.  He makes a deal for diamonds with the fierce local Chief Mbonga (Academy Award Nominee Djimon Hounsou of Blood Diamond & Furious 7) who has a vendetta against Tarzan.  Rom can have a trunk full of diamonds if he returns with Tarzan.

“Your husband’s wildness disturbs me more than I can express”

It does not take long before England’s prime minister receives a special invite from Belgium requesting Lord Greystoke as a special envoy on a diplomatic mission to the Congo.  It has been years since he left Africa for the gentrified life of the aristocracy and he has no desire to return.  However, his beloved wife Jane (Margot Robbie of Suicide Squad and About Time) yearns to go home to her Congolese village.  Unaware of the mastermind plot of antagonist Captain Rom, John Clayton III acquiesces to his wife.  The Claytons, along with American historian and Civil War veteran Dr. George Washington Williams (Academy Award Nominee Samuel Jackson of Pulp Fiction and the Marvel Cinematic Universe) embark on a trip to the jungles of Africa where Clayton is reunited with his Mangani family of great apes and other wild animals.

“It is nearly impossible to take the wild out of something born in it.”

Tarzan has been called one of the best-known literary figures in the world. Burroughs penned more than two dozen novels.  Tarzan has appeared in films, television, radio, comic strips and comic books. The Legend of Tarzan wastes little time on the character’s jungle origin story.  Yates reveals glimpses via short-lived flashbacks. He spends only a few scenes on England.

Alexander Skarsgård captures the wildness of the legendary character and the refinement of Lord Greystoke. He does an extraordinary job as the sophistication of John Clayton disappears and wild nature of Tarzan surfaces and takes control. Skarsgård’s performance is also very sensual, which will delight many True Blood fans.

The sweeping panoramas of Africa were beautifully filmed.  I loved the way Henry Braham, director of photography captured the stunning landscapes and how he used color and light to enhance a scene.  This is especially evident on the steamboat Adelaar.   Jane is wearing a white dress as she plays with a blue butterfly with the Congo River in the background. The way the camera angles play with light brings out Margot’s natural beauty.

One of the most touching scenes occurs in the jungle when a herd of elephants approach like ghosts in the darkness.  Their ethereal beauty if striking.  Braham shoots a close up of the elephant’s eye that captures not only the texture of their skin, but a deep sadness. Earlier in the film, a train passes by with a car filled with ivory tusks.  Yates is subtly making a point about animal exploitation and conservation.  In fact, Warner Bros. Pictures teamed up with an organization called Stop Ivory to raise awareness and hopefully motivate moviegoers to take action.

Above all, Yates romanticizes the jungle with the narrative and mysterious legendary character.  The lush photography and glimpses of the 6’4” Skarsgård in ripped off pants and loincloths is sure to please the ladies. The Legend of Tarzan is a must-see for those that love Tarzan, epic adventures and stunning cinematography. It is suspenseful, romantic and has plenty of action and special effects.  It is the total package for a summer movie-going experience. ~A.S. MacLeod

“They speak of his power over the animals. Because he came from them, he understood them, and learned to be as one with them.”

Imagine the mist rising from the lush vegetation of a jungle in Central Africa. Through the mist comes a 6’4” man and several great apes swinging from vine to vine to rescue a damsel who is not in distress because she has faith in the man that she loves. This man exquisitely portrayed by True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgard is no ordinary man. He is a man that legends are made of and Skarsgard does an incredible job of bringing the myth alive. His dedication to the role is evident by the result of his nine month rigorous diet and training.

The supporting cast was legendary as well with Christoph Waltz playing the antagonist in the fiendishly manipulative manner that he is known for. The scenery is so vibrant and detailed that I almost felt myself engulfed in the midst of the Congo. Cinematographer Henry Braham, known for The Golden Compass, is as responsible for that experience as composer Rupert Gregson-Williams is for the heart pounding music that gave me goosebumps during all of the action scenes.

In 2011, after a few writers tugged the story in different directions, Craig Brewer and Adam Cozad co-wrote this version based on Edgar Rice Burroughs stories. David Yates, director of the last four Harry Potter movies, does an amazing job of harnessing the talent of the entire cast and crew to bring the audience a film that will definitely be etched in my mind. I was proud to join the rest of the viewers in applause as the credits rolled. Swing into the theater this summer to immerse yourself in The Legend of Tarzan!   ~Movie Buffette





About Leigh Ann Rassler