“You can take the man out of the jungle but you can’t take the jungle out of the man.” The best thing about The Legend of Tarzan is its lead actor. Alexander Skarsgard is really that perfect tall drink of water. He’s a handsome 6’4” Viking with gorgeous blond hair, a great smile, lots of charm, sex appeal and yes, in this film he has outstanding abs—to the point that people ask if those abs are computer generated. And no, they’re not.
We start the film with Skarsgard (True Blood’s Eric Northman) as John Clayton III in England, all dressed up in proper fashion as the Lord he is. He is invited to visit the Congo as an emissary, to witness first hand the supposed good works of Belgium’s King Leopold.
Of course, those of us who have read the film’s preamble can hear the words of Admiral Ackbar in our ears, “It’s a trap!”
This also means those of us who want to get right down to the scenes where he’s shirtless and dirty will have to wait until he relents to the requests, most especially at the prodding of one George Washington Williams (Samuel Jackson) who has an agenda that might be for interest to Clayton.
While the plot and the climactic action scene had a tendency to get a bit hokey in the end, and while you wish there were better lines for Jackson and Christophe Waltz (who plays villain Leon Rom), you can also just take it in as part of a popcorn movie that tries to tell us colonialization, the ivory trade, slavery and contributing the endangered species list is bad and that working out and loving animals is sexy.
Much like the beautiful and near perfect jungle book—no real animals were used to for this film. It was all CGI—the gorillas, lions, elephants, gazelles, zebras, hippopotamuses, ostriches, wildebeest, crocodiles, etc.
One may argue how much love and devotion was really put into the script but one cannot argue about the love and devotion Alexander Skarsgard put into his workouts. When he went on Conan, he said he worked out for nine months to get in shape for the movie, and he also had to eliminate cream, sugar, pasta, carbs or bread. A lot of his meals were of chicken breast and broccoli.
His physical trainer, Magnus Lydgback said 展e started with heavy lifting and cardio and had a mobile gym on set. But if you’re playing someone like Tarzan, who needs to be more shredded and move through the jungle like a panther, you can’t stick to the gym all the time. So we switched it up with swimming, running, boxing and different types of martial arts.
Aside from enjoying Tarzan in fine form, you get a lot of beautiful shots as well of Gabon, Africa, and yes, you do get so see some fantastic vine swinging scenes (best enjoyed on the IMAX screen though) for which they had to use an acrobat from the Cirque de Soleil.
While Tarzan does try to delve into deep, political topics and is directed by David Yates (Harry Potter), it is really very light fare. It’s a popcorn film that might delight kids but will probably end up more satisfying for the ladies and ladies at heart.
Tarzan opened on June 30 and is still available on IMAX, 3D and 2D formats.