REVIEW: THE LEGEND OF TARZAN

CAST

Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood)
Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad)
Samuel L. Jackson (Snakes on a Plane)
Christoph Waltz (The Green Hornet)
Jim Broadbent (The Iron Lady)
Djimon Hounsou (Stargate)
Casper Crump (Legends of Tomorrow)
Hadley Fraser (Les Miserables)
Genevieve O’Reilly (Avatar)
Simon Russell Beale (Spooks)
Ben Chaplin (Cinderella)

As a result of the Berlin Conference, the Congo Basin is claimed by King Leopold II of the Belgians, who rules the Congo Free State in personal union with the Kingdom of Belgium. The country is on the verge of bankruptcy, Leopold having borrowed huge amounts of money to finance the construction of railways and other infrastructure projects. In response, he sends his envoy Léon Rom (Christoph Waltz) to secure the fabled diamonds of Opar. Rom’s expedition is ambushed and massacred, with only Rom surviving. A tribal leader, Chief Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou), offers him the diamonds in exchange for an old enemy: Tarzan.The man once called “Tarzan”, John Clayton III, Lord Greystoke (Alexander Skarsgård), has long since left Africa behind and settled down in London with his American-born wife, Jane Porter (Margot Robbie), and has taken up both his birth name and ancestral family residence. In the eight years since returning from Africa, Lord Greystoke’s story as Tarzan has become legendary among the Victorian public, although Lord Greystoke himself wishes to leave the past behind him. Through the British Prime Minister (Jim Broadbent), he is invited by King Leopold to visit Boma and report on the development of the Congo by Belgium, though Greystoke politely declines the invitation. An American envoy, George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson), who recognises John from the stories of “Tarzan”, privately reveals to him that he suspects the Belgians are enslaving the Congolese population, and persuades him to accept the invitation in order to prove his suspicions.Jane is disappointed when John tells her that she cannot come, as he believes the trip to be too dangerous, remembering how both his parents died as a result of the jungle’s brutality following their shipwreck there – his mother of disease and his father later killed by the Mangani apes – leaving the baby John to be raised as Tarzan by his Mangani “mother” Kala and “brother” Akut. However, Jane reminds him that she grew up in Africa as well, and misses her home. John relents, and allows Jane to accompany him.John, Jane and Williams take the trip to the Congo. There, the trio encounters a tribal village and villagers who knew John and Jane during their stay in the jungle. Jane explains to Williams that her husband was once considered an evil spirit by the African tribes, including that of Chief Mbonga. She recalls how, when she was younger, she and her father lived in the tribal village helping to care for local children. There she met Tarzan (made feral and physically enhanced by his life with the apes) who shielded her from a vicious mangani attack, saving Jane’s life but being severely injured in the process. Jane took the injured Tarzan home, nursed him back to health, and the two fell in love. That night, as the tribe sleeps, Rom and his mercenaries attack the village and kidnap John and Jane and kill the tribe’s leader. They then escape to a nearby steamboat with Jane and several of the tribe’s members, but Williams is able to rescue John before he can be taken to the boat.With the aid of the tribe’s warriors, John and Williams intercept a Belgian military train carrying captured slaves, providing Williams with the evidence he needs to expose King Leopold. They also discover that Rom intends to use the diamonds to pay for a massive army to subdue the Congo, and allow Belgium to mine its wealth for Leopold’s benefit. As John and Williams continue onward, John encounters the adult Akut, who is now leader of the apes. Aware that Akut considers him a deserter, John prepares to fight Akut, though he soon loses. That night, as John recovers, Williams recalls the massacres of Native Americans during the Civil War, comparing his actions to be as bad as Rom’s and Leopold’s.On Rom’s steamboat, Jane dines with Rom, before escaping and swimming to shore. Jane stumbles into a group of mangani apes, where she is rescued by Rom, whose men then shoot and kill many of the apes. John saves the remaining group, reconciling with Akut, before pursuing Rom. He is cornered by Mbonga and his tribe, where it is revealed that John once killed Mbonga’s only son for previously killing Kala. A defeated Mbonga tearfully accuses John of lacking honor, as his son was just a young boy when John killed him. John spares Mbonga, just as Akut and the manganis arrive to subdue the tribe. Rom takes Jane and the diamonds to Boma, where he plans to take control of the army. John, Williams and Akut trigger a massive stampede of wildebeest through Boma, destroying the town and distracting the soldiers, allowing John to rescue Jane. As Rom attempts to escape by boat, Williams sinks it with a machine gun as John swims aboard. Rom incapacitates John by strangling him and then tying him by the neck to the ship’s railing, before trying to escape again. John then summons crocodiles with a mating call to devour him, before escaping the destroyed vessel himself.Williams returns to England and presents the Prime Minister with evidence exposing the slave trade in the African Congo. One year later, John and Jane, having remained in Africa and settled in Jane’s father’s old house, welcome their first child, as John, Lord Greystoke, returns to his rightful place among the great apes as Tarzan.They finally portrayed the Tarzan character more like Burroughs wrote him! This is the best Tarzan movie I have ever seen. The acting is superb, and the settings are beautiful. The movie was so good that it seemed like I wanted it to last longer. It was sheer entertainment!

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REVIEW: TARZAN( 2003)

 

MAIN CAST

Tarvis Fimmel (Vikings)
Sarah Wayne Callies (Prison Break)
Miguel A. Núñez Jr. (Lethel Weapon 3)
Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl)
Lucy Lawless (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Mitch Pileggi (The X-Files)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Fulvio Cecere (Dar kAngel)
Tim Guinee (Stargate SG.1)
Johnny Messner (Loaded)
Garry Chalk (Arrow)
Kevin Durand (X-Men Origins)
Ona Grauer (V)
Andrew Jackson (Smallville)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Ty Olssson (Izombie)
Colette Stevenson (Earth: Final Conflict)

Image result for tarzan (2003)For those of you expecting Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic version of Tarzan, a la Johnny Weissmuller in loincloth, swinging on vines and fighting random crocodiles, this isn’t it. The WB network took a real risk with the jungle lord, and decided to update him for a modern audience. That idea could have backfired in so many ways, but instead, what the viewer gets is an entirely new Tarzan mythology, and surprise! it’s good, too. Extremely good, in fact.
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Tarzan has been transplanted from the jungle to New York City; instead of battling the jungle denizens, he now climbs skyscrapers and hangs from gargoyles while battling the evil machinations of his uncle, the head of Greystoke Industries. Jane is also not the typical heroine in distress; instead, she is a strong, capable NYC police detective, who finds herself increasingly drawn to the mysterious and dangerous Tarzan. Dangerous? Oh yes, I forgot to mention — the Tarzan writers were brave enough to let the hero’s dark side show through, making for a much more intriguing protagonist. This Tarzan is capable of sudden bouts of violence and anger one moment, while the next moment may see him comforting a small child or protecting Jane. While most of his violence has to do with protecting Jane, paradoxically, some of Tarzan’s actions often result in putting Jane in danger. The jungle is never far away from this story, even if it is a jungle made of concrete.
Image result for tarzan (2003)Travis Fimmel, an Australian ex-Calvin Klein model is Tarzan, and Sarah Wayne Callies, another newcomer, plays Jane. Both actors are better than one would expect, lending the Tarzan and Jane romance plenty of heat and spark, without even a kiss, as yet. In fact, some of the most powerful scenes between the two of them, have no dialogue at all — just a glance here, a blush there. But somehow, it works. Fimmel also impresses by doing most of his own stunts, something which no worthwhile show about Tarzan could be without. His Tarzan is strong, proud, fierce, has a child’s innocence, and always battles for what he believes is right. That’s quite a performance to manage, but Fimmel is able to get the job done. Lucy Lawless, Mitch Pileggi and Miguel A. Nunez, Jr all lend their considerable skills in supporting roles. Lucy plays Tarzan’s feisty and smart Aunt Kathleen, Pileggi gives a deliciously Machiavellian take on Uncle Richard, and Nunez (who often has the best lines in the series), plays Jane’s NYPD partner, Sam Sullivan.Image result for tarzan (2003)Although there are only 8 episodes of the series, the WB’s Tarzan is a little undiscovered gem of a show. Each episode improves upon the last, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself quoting some of Sam’s lines from the show or humming one of the terrific songs from a particular episode’s soundtrack. This Tarzan is worth watching, especially if you appreciate great dialogue, plenty of action, and two characters that fight to stay with each other, no matter the odds.

REVIEW: GREYSTOKE: THE LEGEND OF TARZAN, LORD OF THE APES

CAST

Christopher Lambert (Highlander)
Ralph Richardson (Time Bandits)
Ian Holm (Lord of The Rings)
James Fox (Shadow Run)
Andie MacDowell (Groundhog Day)
Glenn Close (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Cheryl Campbell (The Shooting Party)
Ian Charleson (The Sun Also Rises)
Nigel Davenport (Bram Stoker’s Dracula)
Richard Griffiths (Harry Potter)
David Suchet (Poirot)

Image result for Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the ApesJohn, Lord Clayton (Paul Geoffrey), the heir to the 6th Earl of Greystoke, and his pregnant wife Alice (Cheryl Campbell) are shipwrecked on the African coast. John builds a home in the trees, and Alice gives birth to a son. Alice later grows ill from malaria and dies. While John is grieving her, the tree house is visited by curious great apes, and he is killed by one of the apes. One female of the group, Kala, who is carrying her dead infant, hears the cries of the infant human in his crib. She adopts the boy and raises him as a member of the Mangani.Image result for Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the ApesAt age five, the boy (Danny Potts) is still trying to fit in with his ape family. When a black panther attacks, he learns how to swim to evade it while another ape is killed.At age 12, the boy (Eric Langlois) discovers the tree-house in which he lived as a baby with his mother and father. He finds a wooden block, with pictures of both a boy and a chimpanzee painted on it. He sees himself in a mirror and recognizes the physical differences between himself and the rest of his ape family. He also discovers his father’s hunting knife and how it works. The objects fascinate the boy, and he takes them with him. One day his mother is killed by a native hunting party, and he kills one of their number in revenge.Image result for Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the ApesYears later, Belgian explorer Philippe d’Arnot (Ian Holm) is traveling with a band of British adventurers along the river. He is disgusted by their boorish nature and love of ‘blood and sport’. A band of natives attack the party, killing everyone except Philippe, who is injured and conceals himself in the trees. The young man (Christopher Lambert) finds Philippe and nurses him back to health. D’Arnot discovers that the man is a natural mimic and teaches him to speak rudimentary English. D’Arnot deduces that this man is the son of the late Lord John and Lady Alice of Greystoke and calls the man “Jean” (the French version of John). Jean agrees to return to England with his benefactor and reunite with his human family.Image result for Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the ApesOn arrival at Greystoke, the family’s country estate in the Lowlands of Scotland, John is welcomed by his grandfather, the 6th Earl of Greystoke (Sir Ralph Richardson), and his ward, a young American woman called Jane (played by Andie MacDowell and voiced by Glenn Close). The Earl still grieves the loss of his son and daughter-in-law years earlier but is very happy to have his grandson home. He displays eccentric behaviour and often confuses John with John’s father.John is treated as a novelty by the local social set, and some of his behaviour is seen as threatening and savage. He befriends a young mentally disabled worker on the estate and in his company relaxes into his natural ape-like behavior. Jane meanwhile teaches John more English, French, and social skills. They become very close and one evening have sex secretly.Image result for Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the ApesLord Greystoke enjoys renewed vigour at the return of his grandson and, reminiscing about his childhood game of using a silver tray as a toboggan on a flight of stairs in the grand house, decides to relive the old pastime. He crashes at the foot of the stairs and slowly dies, apparently from a head injury, in the arms of his grandson. At his passing, John displays similar emotion and lack of understanding about death as he did in Africa following the death of Kala.John inherits the title Earl of Greystoke. Jane helps John through his grief, and they become engaged. He is also cheered when his mentor, Philippe, returns. One day he visits the Natural History Museum in London with Jane. During their visit, John is disturbed by the displays of stuffed animals. He discovers many live, caged apes from Africa, including his adoptive father, Kerchak. They recognise each other, and John releases Kerchak and other caged animals. They are pursued by police and museum officials. They reach a woodland park, where Kerchak is fatally shot. John, devastated, yells to the crowd, “He was my father!”Image result for Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the ApesUnable to assimilate to the human society that he views as cruel, John decides to return to Africa and reunite with his ape family. Philippe and Jane escort him back to the jungle where Philippe and John first met. John returns to the world he understands. Jane does not join him, but Philippe expresses his hope that perhaps they may someday be reunited.Image result for Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the ApesThe performances of the various actors are  superb. Christopher Lambert was perfectly cast as the taciturn, sad eyed Tarzan. He brings gentle steel to the role and he virtual “unknown-ness” at this point in his career was a boon. Ian Holm is likewise excellent as the explorer who finds Tarzan, Phillippe D’Arnot. Ralph Richardson quite possibly steals the show with such a tenderhearted performance as the Earl of Greystoke and fully deserved his posthumous nomination for an Oscar. One final plaudit for the film is the superb costumes and actions of the apes. Obviously if the film were remade today these whole sequences would be film with CGI brilliance, but never the less the most incredible life like suits and the brilliant mimicking of primate actions has stood the test of time fantastically well.