July 26, 2016

The Legend of Tarzan (2016)

Alexander Skarsgård, Margot Robbie, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson



Much to my surprise, the theater was not filled with hordes of middle-aged women, anxiously waiting for Alexander Skarsgård to take off his shirt. Instead, it was moderately full of couples on dates, families with small children, and one very awkward pair of men who put a seat between them as if that made it clear to everyone else that though they were attending the movie together, they were not together.

I, on the other hand, went with a girlfriend with the intention of giggling our way through and ogling Alexander Skarsgård's half naked body. So it was more than a little disappointing that the movie started off slowly, in England, with everyone fully clothed.

It was interesting in that this very familiar story was told in a way that was new and different. Instead of the usual chronology of watching Tarzan's parents die, seeing him grow up with the gorillas, then meet Jane, we are given his history in short flashbacks throughout the first half of the movie. It is a bit overdone and overdramatic at points, but at least it breaks up the slow pace before the action finally kicks in.

I also appreciated the attempt to change the inescapable narrative of the white savior that underlies the Tarzan story. It's tough to do, in a story set in the Congo that stars 3 white people, but the addition of Samuel L. Jackson's character helps. While every other black person in the movie is cast as a half naked warrior-type in some bush village, Jackson instead portrays a modern (for the times) black man who is an equal to Tarzan. The fact that he also provides some much-needed comic relief in an otherwise fairly slow movie doesn't hurt either. He does it without shouting a single time! Could this be a signal of things to come for Jackson?

As for Alexander Skarsgård's body--it doesn't disappoint. Though I much prefer him with shorter hair (and a beard), there is really no denying the appeal of his physique, no matter how unflattering the lighting in the jungle scenes are. It's so enjoyable to look at it almost keeps you from laughing at the scene where he fist fights an [amazingly real looking] 800 pound gorilla. Or the numerous times he's just literally standing there flexing while things happen around him. There is such commitment to the seriousness of it all.

The fact is, this movie was basically centered around the sex appeal of Alexander Skarsgård and Margot Robbie (especially the two of them together), but they managed to make a decent movie anyway by casting people creating a full cast of people who can actually act--the main two just happen to be incredibly hot. And by coming up with some creative twists on the story line. So everyone wins. Especially Christoph Waltz, who saved himself a lot of embarrassment from lending his distinguished reputation to a movie that could have easily been a complete bomb.



Final word: If you really just want to drool over Alexander Skarsgård (and who doesn't?!?), watch this movie. If you really just want to watch Margot Robbie, you have 8,000 options because she is in absolutely everything right now.

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