View on tropical jungle in central bali

The Legend of Tarzan

We saw The Legend of Tarzan on Friday night. Going in, I’m not entirely certain what I was expecting, but in the end, it was two hours well spent.
The familiar, “a baby is raised by apes” story is still there, but it’s done via flashbacks. Instead of an origins story, this movie takes place eight years after Tarzan has left the jungle. Formerly known as “Tarzan”, John Clayton, Earl of Greystoke (Alexander Skarsgård) has married Jane (Margot Robbie) and the two now live in London. When invited by the King of Belgium to visit his protectorate in the Congo, Clayton initially declines, and only reluctantly agrees to go when an American emissary, Doctor George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson) asks for his assistance in investigating his suspicions of slavery.
The storyline is much more serious than any of the Tarzan reruns I remember from Saturday morning cartoons, but it was very well done, and it was interesting to watch the characters develop. It’s not just an adventure, but also a love story. John Clayton’s return to being Tarzan is, of course, the movie’s main driver. He starts off as a reserved aristocrat, relaxing considerably after returning Africa. But it’s when Jane is abducted by mercenaries that Clayton truly embraces who he really is and nothing will stand between him and rescuing the woman he loves.
Second only to Tarzan though is the character of Jane Clayton. Although she’s set as the “damsel in distress” for Tarzan to rescue, calling her helpless would be a mistake. This version of Jane is calm and confident, puts her friends first, and is utterly confident that her husband is going to rescue her, but not leaving it entirely up to him. And when her enemies try to wear her down, she’s sufficiently composed to engage in some very clever psychological warfare (and has some of the film’s best lines).
It’s also fun to watch the character of George Washington Williams evolve. He starts off somewhat uninteresting, but when the going gets tough, he insists on helping and turns out to be an important part of the team. Along the way he also lightens the mood in a few scenes with some well-placed comic relief.
Loved the characters, even the animals had depth – Tarzan’s ape brother may have considered him a deserter, but he also didn’t turn his back on him. And the final assault on the enemy encampment – perhaps I should have seen that coming, but it still blew me away.
So in short, I loved this movie and definitely recommend it. Have you seen it yet? Tell me what you thought of it in the comments.
(Cover photo by flickr user Matthias Ripp, used via Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)