The Legend of Tarzan Film Review

Film Review by Jon E Clist

The Premise
Tarzan, having acclimated to life in London, is called back to his former home in the jungle to investigate the activities at a mining encampment.

The Review
Director David Yates has certainly had a pretty damn awesome career so far. The work he has done in the latter films in the Harry Potter franchise were the perfect blend of funny, dark and yet hopeful. So you would have to hold some pretty high expectations for his interpreting of this epic tale from Edgar Rice Burroughs. Tarzan first appeared in the novel Tarzan of the Apes (magazine publication 1912, book publication 1914), and subsequently in twenty-five sequels, several authorized books by other authors, and innumerable works in other media, both authorized and unauthorized. This is another of those great literary characters that has lasted throughout a century and has had several incarnations along the way.

One of my favourites growing up was Christopher Lambert in the 1984 film Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes. Until this film had been released the source material had been adapted with a focus on cheesy action styles. Then as with many films that came out in the eighties, things were made edgier and somewhat darker. So I guess in my mind, due to my love of this film, I was kind of approaching The Legend of Tarzan as a kind of sequel. Especially as this film picks up the story as Tarzan (Lord Greystoke) is living in the UK and has adapted to European life.

Bearing that in mind I really enjoyed this version of the Legend that is Tarzan and Skarsgård is brilliant. He brings an animal magnetism to the role and inhabits it fully.
To get in Tarzan shape, Alexander Skarsgård, spent 4 months training non-stop in an "intense and all-consuming" workout regime where he said he "basically didn't see any family or friends" for the duration of the training period. He bulked up using a heavy weight-lifting routine and chicken diet eventually building highly developed eight pack abs as he's shirtless throughout the film. Rumour has it that his diet involved ingesting 7000 calories a day. Director David Yates described Skarsgård's Tarzan look as more of a "modern man" that "still has big muscles" but is "more lean, more ripped, more vertical" than the audience has seen before.

I can understand just how much effort Skarsgård went to for this role as he has been quoted as saying that one of the main reasons he took this role was to impress his father. He said, "My dad is a massive Tarzan fan. Growing up we had these VHS cassettes of the Johnny Weissmuller films and that was my introduction to the character. But those films are 70 years old and so much time has passed that I think mine is a fresh take. I'll never compete with Johnny Weissmuller but I just wanted to impress my father. He was thrilled, he was more excited than I was."

While Skarsgård is brilliant in the central role it is the surrounding cast that makes this film a solid cinematic outing. Margot Robbie is wonderful in the role of Jane and brings a strength and beauty to the character. While Samuel L Jackson is his usual wisecracking funny self that overplays the role of the tough badass American civil war veteran.

There is nothing new in the form of Christoph Waltz’ bad guy persona, as this is a character we have seen him to many times now and to be honest, even though it is the same character as in other films, it works and his devil-may-care nonchalant approach to badness is still rather fitting.

It is nice to see where the special effects have taken us over the past few decades and the work they have done to make the jungle swinging to smooth and believable. Well when I say believable, I am talking about in a watching a fictional story kind of believable as opposed to actual real life. The plot of the film is rather simplistic and there's nothing to really sink your teeth into. Then again does that matter in this style of action film?

The Verdict
A good interpretation of a classic series of novels that ads a nice flavor of drama, romance and action to a good old tale. 

The Trailer

The Info
Releases: 30th June 2016
Rating: M – Contains violence
Duration: 110 minutes 
Genre:  Action
Starring: Alexander Skarsgard, Margot Robbie, Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz, Djimon Hounsou
Director: David Yates (Heaps of Harry Potter films)

The Extras
Henry Cavill, Tom Hardy and Charlie Hunnam were considered to play Tarzan. Cavill was too busy performing the role of Clark Kent/Superman for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) (another live action film distributed by Warner Bros.) was the reason he could not be involved with the role of Tarzan.

Emma Stone turned down the role of Jane.

Alexander Skarsgård joked that he would like Tarzan to be drastically different in the sequel because of the heavy workout and diet demands on him. He said, "We have an outline already in which Tarzan gains weight. Tarzan remains hairy and does not have eight pack abs. It has not action and Tarzan eats cake, lots of cake. I wrote it."

The film is based on Dark Horse Comics.

David Yates asked Margot Robbie to punch Alexander Skarsgård while directing their sex scene. He said, 'It is an earthy moment of her enjoying sex with Alex. So I told her just slap Alex while you're making love, give him a punch.' Skarsgård said, 'David wanted it to be primal and animalistic, so he egged us on. When you first meet them they are very civilized and buttoned up. But the first sex scene is when they go back to the jungle.' Robbie added, 'We definitely got caught up in the moment.'

Alexander Skarsgård said his biggest fear in taking in the role was that his little brother, aged 7 years, would think that Skarsgård 'is a shit Tarzan'. Skarsgård said his little brother looks up to Tarzan as 'his ultimate hero' and he does not want to let his little brother down.

Jessica Chastain was originally attached to play Jane but after the movie got delayed she dropped out.


Alexander Skarsgård was very nervous before starting his training worrying whether he would be able to achieve the Tarzan physique. He said, "I've never done anything this extreme before and I was really nervous, it was a huge challenge. I didn't know how my body would respond to the intense training and diet. I had a very good trainer and nutritionist Magnus Lygdback and I was extremely diligent and did everything he told me to do, and tried not to cheat at all. It was a lot of ab crunches and chicken cutlets to get that body."