Edgar Rice Burroughs’ fabled ‘Lord of the Apes’ is back on the big screen in David ‘Harry Potter’ Yates’ take on The Legend of Tarzan. We’re treated to a sumptuous visual spectacle, populated with gorgeous actors and staggering wildlife effects which plays out like a feelgood superhero movie.
The latest incarnation of the Englishman raised by apes is Alexander ‘True Blood’ Skarsgård - rocking the best muscles since Captain America. We see some of his background through flashbacks - the death of his parents, his ‘adoption’ by the female ape Kala and his first encounter with his future mate, the impossibly attractive Jane Potter (Margot ’Suicide Squad’ Robbie).
The monkey business on hand is packed with lovely little details – Tarzan’s hands have been changed by years of running on all fours, utilising Skarsgård’s natural English as a second language feels just right, his interaction with the animals is intimate and mostly believable.
Bad guy of the piece is Léon Rom (Christoph ’Spectre’ Waltz), who carries a spider silk rosary that doubles as an evil choking weapon; he gives good ‘boo hiss’ villainy as a devious envoy to the Congo. Rom is seeking to deliver Tarzan to a vicious tribal leader Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou) whose son he killed, and who is willing to pay in huge diamonds for Tarzan. Along the way Rom’s catalogue of dastardly doings includes capturing Jane, shooting apes, murdering Tarzan’s tribal friends and opening the doors to widespread slavery – not a nice guy.
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Robbie is great as Jane, she makes her a strong character, every bit a match for Tarzan and much more than just a very pretty face. She gets some killer lines too – I especially liked her railing against being seen as a damsel in distress and her rapport with the local tribespeople is genuinely touching. Also on the scene is American ambassador George Washington Williams (Samuel L Jackson), who proves to be a useful sidekick for Tarzan and who delivers one superb laugh-out -loud comic moment.
Enter this jungle for brutal fights, a jaw dropping stampede and some memorable set pieces. This Legend of Tarzan is a great escapist romp which does justice to the much loved King of the Swingers.