The Legend of Tarzan (2016)

(On Cable TV, February 2017) Count me as slightly surprised by this two-fisted adventure film. Most reviewers haven’t been kind to The Legend of Tarzan, and their lowering of my expectations surely played into the film’s favour. Once past the prologue and some tiresome rehashing of the classic Tarzan myth, The Legend of Tarzan gets its own identity as an anti-colonialist sequel to the original Burrough. As Tarzan returns to Africa to fight against slavers, the film becomes the straight-up adventure that it should be. Alexander Skarsgård (and his CGI double) is pretty good as the titular hero, Margot Robbie is fine (but no more) as a damsel able to fight her way out of distress, Samuel L. Jackson is dependably enjoyable as an action sidekick and Christoph Waltz is also up to his usual standards as a slimy antagonist. Director David Yates uses his experience helming visual-effects-heavy projects to deliver a swooping, dynamic series of action sequences grounded in the real world: the film reaches its apex by the time Tarzan flies through the jungle. The script isn’t too bad—despite some uninspiring lines, the anti-colonial themes are ambitious and nicely serve the character despite some white-saviour qualms. The Legend of Tarzan doesn’t amount to a remarkable movie, but it does make up most of a decent blockbuster entertainment film. It’s quite a bit better than some of the harshest reviews may suggest, and works just fine at what it wants to be.

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