Tyler Ku’ulani Lopez
There I was on a long weekend debating about which movie to go watch. There were a few that were intriguing, but perhaps none were as intriguing to me as Tarzan. Who doesn’t like a good Tarzan movie? A kid growing up in the wilderness raised by animals? That sounds amazing! Well you know what would change that? Maybe taking that story and sort of skipping it and now we see an adult Tarzan who still loves the jungle but isn’t there for some reason. Maybe giving you flashbacks of the fun parts of the Tarzan story and instead giving you a dark, gritty, adult version of the story. That sounds less fun. Let’s start the review then shall we?
1 – Writing: 4/10
Oh my… It was just not good. There was some attempts at creativity with the story flashing back to Tarzan and Jane’s past growing up the Congolese jungle, but the flashbacks were mostly boring or useless information. It wasn’t until probably three quarters of the way through the movie that the flashbacks had any meaning. The dialogue was rough at times and not very creative. There were some good parts to the writing, but just nothing consistent at all. I’m pretty sure my writing is gooder than what the writers do in this movie film.
2 – Direction: 6/10
A lot like the writing there were times when the movie felt like it had some cool ideas, but in the end it was just boring. Probably my biggest issue with the movie though was all the very, very serious and adult themes it tackles. I understand that David Yates wanted to make a more grounded Tarzan, but they go through horrible things to establish characters. Death, violence, slavery, abuse, bullying, and miscarriage were all tackled head on. I really wouldn’t recommend this movie for a younger child.
3 – Cinematography: 8/10
Some of the cinematography was actually really great. There were a number of interesting shots and things that make you sort of “oooh” and “aaah” at the screen. I watched in 2D but there were some shots that were clearly meant for 3D and would have looked fantastic. Some of the “Tarzan”-y visuals were really great. There were some missteps too, but overall this was probably the best part of the movie.
4 – Acting: 4/10
Oh lawd. Just… really not good. The best actor in this was absolutely Djimon Hounsou, the guy who says “Who?” to Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy. He’s great in everything he does, but he was the only actor who really put effort into this movie. I like Christoph Waltz and he was alright. Margot Robbie could not have called in this performance more if she was sponsored by Metro PCS. She was terrible. Samuel L. Jackson was cashing a paycheck. Alexander Skarsgard wasn’t awful, but he wasn’t given a great script to work with. Rory J. Saper who plays Young Tarzan was pretty great too actually in his limited role. Shout out to Rory J. who is probably not reading this right now!
5 – Editing: 4/10
This is my least favorite part of the movie probably. It was sooooo slow. The first two acts of this movie move at the pace of a dry snail. There’s nothing but talking and basically useless flashbacks for a large part of the movie. Eventually there’s some flashbacks that matter, but it’s all slow and on top of that it’s really sad and not enjoyable to watch. There’s very little reason to enjoy the film until late when things finally get moving and then… well I’ll tell you later but it flies off the rails.
6 – Sound: 7/10
I didn’t have many issues with the sound. There wasn’t anything too crazy and to be fair the did a good job of finding animal noises. Obviously with a Tarzan movie there’s a bunch of animals you need to make sound realistic and they did their job fine. Good job sound crew!
7 – Soundtrack/Music: 6/10
I mean there just wasn’t anything interesting in the movie. If you watch something like The Revenant the sounds and music help tell the story. It’s classic storytelling. There just wasn’t anything here. It wasn’t even average. There was only one part where the music was important and to be fair, I liked it, but it wasn’t enough to carry the whole movie itself.
8 – Production Design: 8/10
Decent job. I mean some of the stuff didn’t make any sense at all, but that’s not the design team’s fault. I bought that it was the late 1800s/early 1900s. Good job production design crew!
9 – Casting: 6/10
This was a tough one for me. Every actor had the look, but I’m not sure any of them had either the interest or the ability to make it work. Well except for Christoph Waltz who is always an excellent villain and Hounsou whose name is almost as great as his acting. Skarsgard and Robbie both had the look, but were just completely uninspiring. Samuel L. Jackson felt so ridiculously out of place that I had to knock the grade down a point. I mean he was just distracting really and completely took me out of the movie.
10 – Effects: 7/10
The effects were surprisingly average. I touched on the fun visuals of the character Tarzan-ing through the jungle which was definitely fun, but the way the animals looked was at times kind of rough. The gorillas should have looked the most realistic of all the animals, but at times just looked like dark, furry body builders with stumpy legs. Then at the end of the movie it all devolves into chaos and nothing looks real at all. I’ve seen better effects on Game of Thrones than the end of this movie.
Overall Score: 6.0/10
It’s a bad movie everyone. I don’t like saying that, but it’s just not good. This movie really should be the death of “dark and gritty” meets children’s stories. Well actually Batman v Superman should have been that, but this hopefully will be one of the last examples. Not every story needs to be grounded in reality and this movie really struggles to be grounded and yet fun. It tries to be realistic with a deep, raw story but then ends with a final act that is just one of the silliest things I’ve seen all year. I won’t spoil it, but it’s just shockingly and completely accidentally hilarious. Save your cash everyone! This movie would best be served on a long flight or on the television while you’re sorting laundry.