Vampire Owl: I remember this particular person.
Vampire Bat: Did you read his story a long time ago too? There were so many available novels with him as the central character.
Vampire Owl: The Great Vampire Owl doesn’t read such things.
Vampire Bat: Then who are you talking about?
Vampire Owl: I am talking about the person on the dead tree near our castle.
Vampire Bat: Dude, he is the werewolf who was called to decorate our special spooky tree for the upcoming Vampire-Werewolf cultural fest.
Vampire Owl: So, he is not this Tarzan. It is disappointing, but the same does inspire me to throw a stone at that werewolf.
Vampire Bat: One stone means nothing to a werewolf. He won’t even know about it.
Vampire Owl: For my health to remain good, I hope he won’t know about it ever.
Vampire Bat: You are lucky to be alive with such plans going on in your head.
[Gets three cups of masala tea with banana chips].
Flashback to the tale :: We remember this character from our childhood, don’t we? There might have been many more at a more English kind of a world of books and comics, but here the main characters were The Phantom, Mandrake and Tarzan, a group which was challenged only by those superheroes with names ending with men – Batman, Spider-Man, Superman and He-Man; that was all for my childhood. Edgar Rice Burroughs was known only to us for writing Tarzan during those days, but after watching John Carter, my favourite character from him did change. There were a good number of translated Tarzan novels available in Malayalam during those days, and I grew up reading them, while the rest of the superheroes came in comics and rarely on corners of newspapers. This tale of the child raised in the African jungles by the Mangani great apes was a fascinating one for a long time.
What is the movie about? :: In the year 1884, at the Berlin conference, the colonial powers of the world had decided to divide Congo, the area that has most of the River Congo flowing through and around it. King Leopold of Belgium claimed the the bigger area, that should be mostly the Democratic Republic of the Congo of these times or as earlier the Republic of Zaire, which includes the vast Congo Basin, rich in ivory and a lot of minerals. With an intense ambition to exploit his new colony and its resources, he uses all his power for control as well as building the infrastructure for his forces, but five years later, he only ends up in debt desperate for money to pay for his army stationed there. With his reputation fading infront of the other colonial powers, he sends his most trusted follower, Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz) the the Congo to find and gather the legendary diamonds of Opar.
So, what happens next? :: Leon and his group of soldiers are ambushed and except him, each gets murdered by the tribe that guards the diamonds. The leader of the tribe, Chief Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou), has a discussion, and offers him the diamonds in exchange for an old enemy whose death is considered as his salvation, Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard). But there is no longer a Tarzan, as he is now John Clayton III, Lord Greystoke (Alexander Skarsgård), who has settled down at his ancestral home in London with his American wife, Jane Porter (Margot Robbie) with no more of the thoughts related to Africa. Even though his tales have a certain kind of legendary status in the city, he doesn’t intend to go back to the forest and has managed to blend into what all were part of the civilised life there. With his adaptation of the Victorian lifestyle, there would be no man who would identify him as not part of London.
So, where does the twist happen? :: Through the British Prime Minister (Jim Broadbent), he knows that he is invited by King Leopold to visit the Congo and see its development. An American envoy, George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson) also requests him to have a look to see how the native population is treated there, as he feels that the king’s men have enslaved them terribly – finally Tarzan agrees. After being persuaded by Jane, he allows her to accompany him along with George. As they arrive at Congo and rest at a tribal village with the inhabitants being known to them from their earlier stay, they are captured by the troops of Leon, but Tarzan and George escapes. Tarzan will not rest until he finds Leon and finish him after rescuing Jane. But with the guns of the Belgian troops and mercenaries against him along with one ferocious tribe looking for his blood, can he accomplish the same?
The defence of The Legend of Tarzan :: It always good to have a new take on the tales that we have read as children, and this movie also provides the same, and works as a nice sequel for the people who have lived through this man’s tale. There are some very nice action sequences in this one, and the best of them should be Tarzan traveling on the ropes, and fighting his ape-brother. There are some really good performances to support this too, with Alexander Skarsgard leading the way as Tarzan, a role which he seems to have taken in as the way it is supposed to. Meanwhile, Margot Robbie excels as Jane, with her character seemingly having more dimensions than a usual fan would have thought – something which we saw more intensely with her Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad; the two characters are poles apart, but she has nailed them both, without leaving one with chances of questioning – unless there are some dumb questions to ask, for which there is no shortage as long as there are people.
The claws of flaw :: The flashbacks in the story are not really that good, as it comes at those times when we are going through the flow of the proceedings, and the journey back only breaks it. There is also some slowing down in the pace of the movie, and there are times when it makes us wait rather too much for the next thing to happen. More firepower could have been used, and more beautiful shots were to be used in the jungle which had so much possibilities – they have had the basic material about Tarzan for such a long time, and there is this technology, and they could have easily made this one without the slowness and the dull moments which come in here and there. There is also no doubt that Tarzan could have used a better thought process behind it, but as it is now, it remains an interesting action-adventure that takes you back to the childhood days – it is never really away from the movie that we wished to watch in the childhood.
Release date: 1st July 2016
Running time: 110 minutes
Directed by: David Yates
Starring: Alexander Skarsgard, Samuel L. Jackson, Margot Robbie, Djimon Hounsou, Jim Broadbent, Christoph Waltz, Casper Crump, Hadley Fraser, Genevieve O’Reilly, Yule Masiteng, Simon Russell Beale, Matt Cross as Akut, Madeleine Worrall, William Wollen
@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.