Action, Adventure, Drama
Directed By: David Yates
Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Margot Robbie, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Waltz
My Rating: 5 out of 10
Have you ever been flicking through the channels on your tele box and come into a film half way through? You don't feel you know what's going on but you watch regardless and kid yourself you didn't really need to know what happened at the start anyway. Welcome to Tarzan!
You may be surprised to hear I have never studied Tarzan, like most I know the basics of it. A man grows up in the jungle amongst animals but I have to say from the get go, this film almost presumes you know the origin story before it gives it to you. I am all for expecting the audience to know a bit about your character but surely this film takes a slight liberty, it thrusts you in cluelessly to London where Tarzan is actually living under the name John Clayton and I spent most of the early moments confused as to why he was here and not in the jungle like I expected. Confused but not deterred, I persevered and afterwards we are thankfully clued in and drip fed an origin story throughout the rest of the film, it was such an odd way to bring this character to the screen though and I felt it made the character of Tarzan quite dull at the start. Perhaps this was a ploy to make the tree swinging warrior more exciting later, however it failed miserably for me and I felt the start was just overwhelmingly dull. Numbing your audience at the beginning is not the best way to start a movie. The character does thankfully progress from the dull lord of the manor we are served at the beginning, into the popular warrior most will be familiar with yet it never really hits any dizzy heights that will make it memorable.
Alexander Skarsgard certainly looks the part, I spent most of this movie with intolerable body envy, on the other hand, and I don't blame the actor for this, they somehow never used this man mountain effectively and it never truly excites other than a couple of fighting scenes lasting about 10 minutes of a 2 hour film. In fact most of the shots meant to be “exciting” leaned so heavily on CGI (more on that later) that it almost takes the shine off the actors themselves who appear to be quite committed in their roles despite the lack of commitment to anything interesting within the plot. I know some may find that last comment harsh, but I felt the plot was bang average. It wasn't terrible but it wasn't exciting either, it was a fairly run of the mill man has wife, wife gets taken, man wants wife back story that was so utterly basic it didn't give any of the cast a chance to thrill.
Margot Robbie is of course a treat for the eyes as Jane, but she spent most of the movie sitting down on a boat with so many pointless scenes emphasising her entrapment on said boat. A particular highlight of this nonsense was one shot where she was sat down on the boat and a butterfly lands on her, it had absolutely no purpose that I could think of and only emphasised the fact that the lack of story was being compensated for by CGI filler scenes. Jane therefore was just an incredibly dull character again and her captor did not fair much better. Christopher Waltz will be familiar in his bad guy role to anyone who watched the latest James Bond film. In that he demonstrated how good he was at playing the villain, but again in this film, he's not used properly and his character just doesn't seem threatening at all. I was totally indifferent to him throughout, but we should love to hate villains and there simply wasn't enough to love or hate, again it was just distinctly 'average'.
Thankfully and forgivingly there was one character I genuinely liked in this movie and that was George Williams played by Samuel L. Jackson, he provided light entertainment in what was an otherwise fairly dull script. He went on to at least provide a little bit of fun in the movie. Someone said to me the other day that people have forgotten how to have “fun” while watching movies, but my argument to that would be that filmmakers are forgetting to make films fun. Fun is not just flashing lights, bright colours and big CGI action shots, we should expect much more around all that as well, this film just seriously lacked fun and the only glimmers of fun came when Jackson was on screen. The true reason this film just failed to deliver though is the overuse of poor CGI.
There is one scene where a few characters are walking over tree branches that just looked completely ridiculous, it simply looked bad. There were so many shots where you could just tell it was CGI and for me that ruins it completely. I have always said I prefer live action filming, but I understand CGI is a necessary evil for most flicks in the modern age and when done right they can look mind blowing while keeping a sense of realism. This however, was far away from looking like real life. We had CGI apes that looked absolutely awful , a swinging vine scene which was laughable in truth and many other shots which just looked like an actor in front of a green screen. I really don't understand how someone got away with making it look quite as dreadful as it did. These scenes I am sure were meant to be the fun and exciting scenes which would make this a watchable movie but most fell flat purely because I spent them cringing at those God awful special effects. Surely then someone somewhere should have spotted things were amiss, I mean these directors know what they are doing right?
Well David Yates is responsible for some of the Harry Potter films and he certainly knew what he was doing then, but for some reason he failed to see the flaws within this movie and perhaps, most damning of all, he made what should have been a fun film ( a film reintroducing the character of Tarzan to a new generation) so utterly boring. If it was style over substance, that's fine, but then you at least have to make it stylish, which this wasn’t. Far too much CGI, CGI that wasn't even that good anyway and a completely basic storyline that would leave no one inspired. Oh actually that's wrong, I am inspired to go watch George of the Jungle instead!