Friday, July 1, 2016

Tarzan One of the Best in a While

Maddie and me in our superhero poses.
I've seen a lot of Tarzan movies in my time and have a special fondness for the books (Tarzan of the Apes, published in 1914, was the first book I read cover-to-cover). The current "The Legend of Tarzan" is among the better movies, I'd say.

Understand that Tarzan has set a low bar since Elmo Lincoln, a Shakespearian actor pretty much wrecked his career as the first Tarzan in 1918 (and was the only one to kill a live lion on set). Weismuller defined Tarazan ("Me Tarzan, you Jane") and a succession of actors with good physical builds have added to the notion that no matter how much money you spend on these movies, they're still Tarzan movies.

The original Tarzan book cover.
That is not to be written off. Bond movies are Bond movies, but we still flock to see them. Same with Jason Borne and a whole slew of others.

This iteration seems to have a pretty good base in fact, centering as it does on the thoroughly corrupt Belgian government in the 1890s and its effort to strip the Congo of diamonds and anything else of value, using Congolese as slave labor. Tarzan, of course, can't have that, so he allies with apes, wildebeests, crocks, elephants and some fierce tribesmen to run the varmints out and save Miss Jane from a greedy n'er do well.

The movie is, naturally, beautiful and is full to brimming with great special effects, if not great acting. Six-foot-four Alexander Skarsgard is an imposing Tarzan and Margot Robie a fetching Jane--the most endearing in a while by my standards. Samuel Jackson is a puzzling sidekick (why in the world Samuel Jackson?) and Christof Waltz a menacing bad guy. The director is David Yates, who did "Harry Potter."

Again, this is not high art, but it is good summer adventure. Take a kid and you'll enjoy it more. Maddie went with me.

(Photo: Kara Dickerson Smith.)

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