What better way to start an action adventure film than with several expositional sentences, explaining that the King of Belgium has defaulted on his debts? The Legend of Tarzan, which sets out to resurrect a 1940’s monkey fart of a character, places colonialism at the heart of this new story, because if there’s one thing family audiences want from a film about a jungle man who can survive a punch from a gorilla, it’s partially historically accurate representations of slavery in The Congo.
As you might expect of the British, after discovering a feral human being, living in his own filth and walking around on his knuckles, they’ve brought him into Parliament and made him a Lord. Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) has replaced his loincloth with a suit and his ape grunts with the Queen’s English, but it’s not long before he’s lured back to the jungle by Christoph Waltz’s dastardly royal enforcer, who all but twists his moustache in yet another villainous role. The action sees Tarzan take off his shirt and reclaim his position as the white Lord of black Africa. But mainly take off his shirt.
Dredging up memories of colonial rape isn’t the only downside to The Legend of Tarzan – Director David Yates does try to dress the natives as his equals, but makes them look like Ewoks worshiping C-3PO – it also handles his origins like a chimp trying to grasp one of its more watery turds. Sporadic flashbacks of how Tarzan and Jane met are messily constructed, but nevertheless convince you how much better that story was compared to this new one.
Margot Robbie as a feisty Jane is the only thing worth seeing here. Even the special effects fail to impress, which isn’t a great sign for a film that primarily consists of computer generated apes. In comparison to The Jungle Book, this looks like Gorillas in the Mist. As for Skarsgård, he has to let out not one, but two trademark yawns to bolster his lacklustre performance. I only had to yawn once to realise this would be less memorable than George of the Jungle.
But if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that a man would most likely die after being clotheslined by a silverback. And if he did have the muscular fortitude to survive such a strike, he’d probably be too dense to swing from a tree vine. He definitely wouldn’t get up and make a joke with Samuel L. Jackson about licking its balls as a method of surrender. Whichever way you look at it, Tarzan is primitive bollocks.