Sunday, October 9, 2016

Video review: "The Legend of Tarzan"

Gosh knows how many cinematic iterations of “Tarzan” there have been, but the newest big-budget effort, “The Legend of Tarzan,” adds little to the oeuvre.

Watching Alexander Skarsgård swing on a vine, fight apes and men, deliver the ubiquitous yodel, etc., it finally occurred to me that this is actually a spiritual remake of another Tarzan movie – “Tarzan the Ape Man,” the 1981 version starring Bo Derek.

Like that soft-core piffle, the main point of this new movie is to delight in displays of human flesh. Except here we’re ogling the guy instead of the girl.

Skarsgård’s body has been transformed into the perquisite tangle of veiny bulges and rippled abdominal landscape favored in this age. We watch him flex and stretch and contemplate the desert of carbs in his diet. Maybe at some point we wonder why he would look like this, since as the story opens he left the jungle many years ago to take up the life of a British nobleman along with his lady love, Jane (Margot Robbie).

Somehow, I doubt they had P90X classes in 19th century England. And you can’t rock a six-pack from playing cricket.

Anyway, they get lured back to the Congo to investigate some allegations of bad behavior, including slavery, at the mining camps, kicking off a confrontation with Leon Rom, a Belgian baddie with dreams of capturing the entire diamond operation. He’s played by Christoph Waltz, in about his sixth version of the “off-putting Christoph Waltz villain.” Samuel L. Jackson tags along as an American envoy offering to help.

A few of the action scenes are gripping, but Tarzan himself is an uncharismatic drip. The truth is the screenplay gives most of the interesting stuff to the supporting actors. Tarzan is just there to be gazed upon.

Maybe 110 minutes of ogling is enough for thee, but not for me.

Bonus features are merely adequate, and are the same for Blu-ray and DVD editions. They include five making-of featurettes and a public service announcement about the African ivory trade.



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