Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Legend Of Tarzan (2016)

The Legend Of Tarzan (2016)

So a while back I saw the trailer for the recent version of The Jungle Book, and decided I wanted to catch it and see if it was any good.  I was pretty shocked when not only did I like it, but I thought it was actually really good.  Around the same time I saw a trailer for The Legend Of Tarzan.  I actually mistakenly thought it was a trailer for The Jungle Book, until the title came on in the end.  So in my head I figured I would see that as well, and see how well they updated this classic, especially after I so enjoyed The Jungle Book.  Boy was THAT a mistake!  It was like night and day, and if these two came out any closer in time I am pretty sure people would be comparing the two a lot more. 

There may be possible SPOILERS in this this review, and I really did not enjoy this movie, and when I need to bitch about things, plot points and certain things in the movie may be described in detail, so  you have been warned. 

If you don't want to read the rest of the review, the simple response to this movie is, what a piece of shit!  Seriously?  You guys could not come up with a better movie for $180 million?  Other than the one trailer I saw, I did not know anything about this movie prior to seeing it. I try to know as little as possible, so I go in with less expectations.  Considering I had only seen one trailer that should have been the first clue that this might not be good, movie companies rarely over promote movies that are shitty. 

The movie starts off with a bit of a history lesson about the way the Congo was split up, and some king and his interests, and how he needs these diamonds to keep control of his part, yada yada yada.  While I get that this is crucial to the plot, it already feels like we walked into a movie in the middle and a friend is catching us up with where it is.  So we see an army of guys going off into the Congo with a very meek looking guy, played by Christoph Waltz, who happens to be the only decent part of the movie.  Mind you, he did not blow me away or anything, but at least he seemed to be trying. 

So after the army has been defeated by the natives, all that is left is the poor old meek guy, who somehow avoids getting killed.  As one warrior approaches him to kill him, he somehow kills the guy with some rosary beads.  Then he meets with the leader of the warriors and is told that he can have the diamonds if he brings him Tarzan. 

You see, Tarzan has grown up, and is now living in London.  "What" you say?  Why is he living in London?  Well, you see, this movie picks up AFTER the story of Tarzan we all know, and were expecting to see in the movie.  So I am sitting there really wondering if this is a sequel to a franchise that was rebooted a while ago, while I wasn't looking.  In fact, I had to wait until I got home to check IMDb just to find out, no, this is not a sequel, they just decided to start the movie AFTER the story we all know.  Fuck them, seriously. 

So now we are in London, where Tarzan, who happens to be a Lord or something, is invited to Africa to look into something for the government.  It all seems pretty sketchy, and then pops in Samuel L. Jackson, who now seems to play only two roles in his life, one, the action hero, two, the ex-civil war guy.  Upon meeting Tarzan, he even makes a "me Tarzan, you Jane" joke.  It is all too self aware and silly, but this is the role that Samuel Jackson always plays nowadays. 

Somehow he convinces Tarzan to go back to the Africa, and Jane then somehow convinces Tarzan to let her go with him.  So now the three of them are off to Africa.  There is obviously some suspicion, so they jump the train a few stops early and visit some old friends.  At this point I do not even remember exactly how, but the bad guy figures out where Tarzan is and kidnaps him and Jane and burns down the village they were staying in, while kidnapping some strong Africans for the hell of it.  Tarzan somehow gets loose, but Jane, well, now she is the bait to bring Tarzan to the tribe leader who wants him.  

At this point the movie starts to get silly and ridiculous, and any suspension of belief is gone.  The CGI is awful, like, so bad it's scary.  While The Jungle Book looked amazing, this looks like it's from 10 years ago,  Shit, stuff 10 years ago looked better!  When the buffalo run across the screen, it looks no better than when I play the Big Buck Hunter video game in a bar.  The ostriches look stupid, and so fake, and even the backdrops look worse than some of those movies in the 1950s where the actors stood in front of painted backdrops.  Some of the CGI was good, but too much was bad to enjoy it.  At some point they do the whole age regression CGI for Tarzan, and it looks ridiculous.  I saw a Bollywood film recently called The Fan, and the CGI people should watch that for some pointers on what age regression CGI should look like.  It was pretty amazing, especially compared to this crapfest. 

Let's talk actors for a moment.  The lead guy looked like the kid from Home Alone all grown up in the jungle, I kept waiting for him to put his hands up to his face to express surprise.  Jane is played by the actress who is now Harley Quinn, a role she looks much better in.  In Tarzan she reminded me of Hayley from One Tree Hill, the not so pretty girl who is actually pretty but not as pretty as the lead girls.  The acting overall felt very TV level.  Sam Jackson was, well, Sam Jackson, you like him or you don't, and although I do like him, I am getting sick of seeing him in everything.  I wonder who will get cast in these roles when he dies?  Christoph Waltz is good as the villain, but not amazing or memorable.  All in all nothing was top notch by any means. 

The fights between Tarzan and the animals are ridiculous.  They are either so big you know he could never win, or just so unrealistic that you can't even think it's real for a second.  It is one of those things where you have to be in the moment, and you just can't be in the moment in this movie.

While reading the IMDb trivia, something I tend to do after I see most movies, most of it has to do with Tarzan's body and his diet leading up to the film.  The director seemed obsessed with the actor being as sculpted as possible.  To be honest, I didn't even notice during the movie, and his 8 pack literally was not seen by me, or at least registered in my brain.  I did notice his cuts near his groin at some point, purely because his pants were way too low, but other than that I did not notice it at all.  Maybe if they had worked on the script half as much as his body the movie would have been better.  I swear, the diet they had him on, and the way the actor and crew reacted to it, sounded so abusive and sad, I can only imagine Hollywood now making male actors as obsessed with their bodies as female actors, which is not equality in my book, just sounds like more abuse. 

All in all this movie was a huge disappointment, all I wanted was a fun escapist bit of entertainment, and what I got was a steaming pile of ape poo that should have been thrown at the director. 

5 out of 10 stars. 

Location : Regal Union Square, theater 6, in NYC
Date and time : Sunday July 17th, 2016 at 9:40 PM
Format : DCP
Audience : Not very crowded, the audience didn't react or seem to care at all.