There’s nothing worth yelling about in ‘The Legend of Tarzan’

It isn’t quite the bungle in the jungle the trailers make it out to be, but “The Legend of Tarzan” still has to be considered a swing and a miss.

There isn’t anything particularly wrong with this latest adventure of the Edgar Rice Burroughs hero who’s been the star of everything from black-and-white film serials to a Disney animated and stage musical to a 2003 WB drama in which Tarzan (“Vikings’ ” Travis Fimmel) helped a detective named Jane (“The Walking Dead’s” Sarah Wayne Callies) solve crimes in Manhattan.

On second thought, there’s some pretty unfortunate Shia LaBeouf-in-“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”-level tree swinging.

But it’s more a case of “The Legend of Tarzan” not doing anything particularly well, either.

Tarzan (“True Blood’s” Alexander Skarsgard) has spent the past decade living the high life in London as John Clayton III, fifth Earl of Greystoke, a member of the House of Lords. He may have been raised by gorillas, but now he holds his pinkies out when drinking from a teacup. He’s also an international celebrity: “Me, Tarzan; you, Jane” has become the stuff of legend.

When Tarzan is invited to return to his native Congo as a trade emissary, he’s cajoled into going by George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson), a diplomatic envoy from the U.S. who accompanies him. He’s also manipulated by his headstrong wife, Jane (Margot Robbie), into bringing her back to the dangerous land where they met.

There’s more to the invitation than any of them realizes, though. Belgium’s cash-strapped King Leopold is colonizing the Congo, and he needs the region’s vast diamond deposits to keep the expedition, and his nation, afloat. Leopold’s envoy, Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz), has made a deal with local Chief Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou): Mbonga will surrender the gemstones in exchange for Tarzan, so he can kill his rival and satisfy an old vendetta.

Screenwriters Adam Cozad (“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit”) and Craig Brewer (“Hustle &Flow”) go all out to modernize the story despite its 1890s setting by turning Jane into a feminist icon. There’s even a Superman punch and a joke about priest sex abuse.

But “The Legend of Tarzan,” directed by David Yates (the last four “Harry Potter” movies), works best as a reminder of a kinder, gentler time with its reliance on trains and paddlewheelers. The costumes and visuals are top-notch. And the villainous Rom is just a man with zero special powers. Sure, he’s trying to enslave or murder an entire indigenous population, but at least Rom isn’t trying to destroy the world.

Skarsgard does an adequate job of following in the bare footsteps of everyone from Johnny Weissmuller and Buster Crabbe to Christopher Lambert and the late Denny Miller, who spent the last 12 years of his life as a Las Vegan. But, like most of the movie, there’s just nothing special about his performance. His 24-pack, though, was a real crowd-pleaser.

The inclusion of Jackson and Waltz makes for a nice “Django Unchained” reunion. It’s always a pleasure seeing a pistol-packin’ Jackson crack wise, and Waltz does plenty of Waltz-y things. But watching them and thinking about their other movies goes to the heart of “The Legend of Tarzan’s” problems. It just feels too familiar.

The CGI gorillas aren’t that different from the ones in the “Planet of the Apes” movies. “The Jungle Book” stole the thunder from its other CGI animals. Chief Mbonga comes across as a primitive version of “Captain America: Civil War’s” Black Panther. And the whole thing is reminiscent of “The Lone Ranger,” which bombed over this same weekend back in 2013. “The Legend of Tarzan” is much better than that disaster, but it’s still hard to figure out who thought moviegoers were clamoring for a new take on either property.

There’s simply nothing here worth yelling about.

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com. On Twitter: @life_onthecouch.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
The Nevada State Museum
The Nevada State Museum of Las Vegas, located at the Springs Preserve, covers all eras of the state, from prehistoric to today.
Throw a better dinner party
Cash appears at Baseball Winter Meetings
Lights FC mascot Cash plays the electronic drums at the EZ Inflatables’ booth on Tuesday at the Baseball Winter Meetings trade show at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
5 albums to soundtrack your holiday gatherings in style
1. Various Artists, “Holidays Rule," with Rufus Wainwright, The Shins, Calexico and more. 2. Various Artists, “We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year," with Lemmy Kilmister, Alice Cooper, Chuck Billy and others. 3. Various Artists, “Christmas on Death Row," featuring Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg to name but a few. 4. Bright Eyes, “A Christmas Album.” 5. Various Artists, "The Motown Christmas Album." (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside the kitchen at Springs Preserve
The staff of Divine Events do party preparation in the kitchen at Divine Cafe at Springs Preserve. With nine parties the following day, this is a particularly busy time for the crew. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
WinterFest
WinterFest in Henderson.
Miss Rodeo America Fashion Show
The 28 women contestants of Miss Rodeo America compete in a fashion show at the Tropicana on Dec. 7, 2018.
Tournament Of Kings Holiday Show
Wizards and warriors are ready for the holidays at Excalibur's Tournament of Kings Holiday Dinner Show.
Take a dive with the Silverton mermaids
A visit to the Silverton Casino Hotel is not complete without taking in the popular, and very unique, mermaid show.
Cowboys and western aficionados can buy virtually anything at Cowboy Christmas
Vegas Golden Knights Christmas Display
In the Las Vegas Valley, the chances of getting a white Christmas are slim. But this year, you can have a “Knight” Christmas. A Henderson resident has a Christmas lights display that is synchronized to the entrance music for the Golden Knights. GG Misa’s Knights light show is played every 30 minutes from 5 to 10 nightly. His light show consists of two songs: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and the entrance music, “Le Castle Vania,” from the movie “John Wick.” The display is located at 730 Bollons Island St. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Reivew-Journal)
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez is Just in Time For Repeal Day And Christmas
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez Is Just In Time For Repeal Day And Christmas. Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal
TV's LGBT superheroes
Green Valley Ranch's Winter's Village
The Mob Museum
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Quick Chat With Criss Angel
James D. Gish and Susan Anton rehearse
Susan Anton will be special guest at James D. Gish’s holiday concerts Dec. 7 at Summerlin Library and Dec. 9 at Clark County Library. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Winter Wonderland
"Majestic Holiday Magic" at the Bellagio Conservatory.
Underwater Santa At The Silverton
Santa takes a dive Sunday, December 2, at the Silverton Casino Hotel. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Cowabunga Bay Christmas Town
Las Vegas Natural History Museum
Las Vegas Natural History Museum, which opened in 1991, has exhibits of mechanical dinosaurs and taxidermied animals, along with live snakes, fish and sharks. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Magical Forest Lights
Cirque Du Soleil Performers Team Up For New Show "Kinekt"
Through dance, acrobatics and aerial arts, “Kinekt” tells a story all too familiar to modern families: how to maintain a human connection in the digital age. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ethel M Holiday Cactus Garden
The Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas
The Pinball Hall of Fame was created by Tim Arnold and opened in 2006. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jump! The Ultimate Dog Show at Springs Preserve in Las Vegas
Trainer Lou “Mack” McCammon guides several rescue dogs through a series of tricks and jumps two shows a day weekends through December at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Buddy V - Sep 21 Confidante
Famous Infinity Mirror Room is open in Las Vegas
Yayoi Kusama's "Aftermath of Obliteration of Infinity" mirror room is open at the Bellagio in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Glittering Lights dazzles Las Vegas
The Glittering Lights holiday display is shining at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Mat Luschek/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like