I’m starting to feel that I’m very alone in my film opinions.
Last night, I went to see The Legend of Tarzan, and despite the relentless negative reviews, I really enjoyed it!! Am I crazy? Because I’m starting to feel like I am. Maybe you loved it, maybe you hated it, maybe you have yet to watch it and are trying to decide if it’s worth it. Whatever reason you’re here, well, here’s my case.
One, I liked that this was not a remake. It’s more than safe to say that there have been way too many of those going around. And while some I am very excited for, like the new Ghostbusters, others I am cringing at. Like Flatliners. Seriously, that movie was perfect. It does not need to be remade.
Anyhow, the fact that this was almost like a continuation was a cool and original take. This film takes place after Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard) leaves the jungle. He’s been living in England for some time as John Clayton, also known as Lord Greystoke, with his wife, Jane (Margot Robbie). But when he is called back to investigate possible wrong-doings, he remembers his childhood here, and begins reverting back to his natural instincts.
My biggest worry going into the film was probably Tarzan himself. While Skarsgard is fantastic, it’d be extremely easy for the substance of the character to be lost underneath the muscles. Because we all know that there is at least one person who is only going for Skarsgard’s abs. But I thought he did a fantastic job with our hero. We delved deep emotionally, in my opinion, but I think it was easy to think otherwise because it was in a way that we aren’t used to.
Tarzan is a physical role above anything else. And I don’t just mean body. I mean body language, facial expressions, mannerisms. We need to believe this guy was raised by apes in the jungle. Because that’s the core of this story. If that isn’t believable, everything that comes after just feels like a waste of time. And this is why I think Skarsgard absolutely slayed, because he captured these mannerisms perfectly. When he got emotional or angry, his breathing would get deep and very loud, ape-like. It was small details like that which made the role believable. Seeing him interact with each animal, he transforms himself from human to something more. And it’s really amazing, because even though we know so much of this is CGI, he’s able to still have us enthralled and interested. I heard the CGI itself labelled as bad, but I disagree. I thought it was well done, especially with the elephants. Their eyes brought me to tears.
The rest of the cast was just as good as Skarsgard. Margot Robbie was a complete bad ass as Jane, refusing to take crap from anyone. This was another key role, because, well, it’s Jane. The love story between Tarzan and Jane is renowned, and if there wasn’t chemistry, the whole movie would have fallen flat. But again, the small details were beautiful. It’s almost animalistic, and I don’t mean wild. I mean…the way he approaches her. How he slowly moves towards her until he’s behind her, how he lightly presses his forehead against her, nuzzling into her neck. Again, this comes back to body language, and makes it all that much more believable, and adds a layer of cuteness and intimacy to the couple.
Djimon Hounsou plays a more than slightly intimidating tribe leader, Chief Mbonga. He brings an intimidation and level of fear to almost every role he plays, and he’s damn good at it. But the major baddie would be Christoph Waltz’s Leon Rom, and as per usual, Waltz proves that he rocks playing characters we love to hate. No one plays evil as well as he does. And to counteract all the bad, we have Samuel L. Jackson to bring his bad ass flair and the comedic relief we just need at some points.
David Yates, most well known for his work on the final four Harry Potter films, chose some really interesting techniques and movements for this film. The epic fight scenes (the one with Akut particularly springs to mind) keeps audiences on the edge of their seats, while the love scenes are beautifully intimate, and have us romantics sighing and wishing that we were so lucky as to be Jane. Or at the very least, Margot Robbie playing Jane. Yates, I’m one step closer to forgiving you for Order of the Phoenix.
Someone had to say it.
So where does that leave us? A cast that is amazing and committed, because even if you hated the film, you cannot deny the awesome line up. Great directing, a new spin on a well-known story, a movie that creates butterflies in your stomach, causes your heart to stop, and keeps you entertained and immersed for two hours. I’m not seeing a downside!
I guess the truth is, a lot of the bad reviews I heard were from critics. But I’m not reviewing as a film critic. That’s not me. I’m reviewing as someone who loves to get out of this world for as long as she can. I want to watch a film that can transport me, take me away, and make me feel like I’m living it, not watching it. Any film that does that does its job. I appreciate a good cinematographer, a good director, a good writer as much as anyone, probably even more than the average person. But in the end, if that’s all you’re watching for? It doesn’t sound like a very fun way to watch. So, from a critic’s point of view, I suppose I can see why it would get bad ratings. But from a critic’s point of view, you could make a case for why pretty much any film is terrible. Like I said, I’m not a film critic. I’m just a girl who will take her escapes where she can. And The Legend of Tarzan definitely gave it to me. And for that, I recommend it.