Seriously again? Hollywood you already destroyed Japan classic story of “47 Ronin”, made Frankenstein’s monster into a one dimensional action hero, and you made Greek mythology lame with “The Legend of Hercules”. Stop destroying classic stories Hollywood, wait what? Oh, my mistake I’ve become so accustomed to Hollywood destroying classic work of literature as of lately it became second nature to accuse them. No this time the blame goes to German studios Ambient Entertainment and Constantin Film Production (also responsible for the butchering of 2011’s “The Three Musketeers”). This film fails fundamentally capture anything that made such stories survive decades past their publication.
Tarzan is a mixture of bad original ideas and a third act that was so lazy decided to rip off Avatar (2009). So here’s the setup; opening narration says “The amazing story I’m about to tell you took place in the deepest and darkest place of Africa” while following an asteroid that sometimes glows red in space. Yup, if the filmmakers couldn’t bother using Google or whatever search engine Germany uses to look up where Africa is located then lose all hope of it being geographically accurate. Continuing, we follow the asteroid through the solar system until crashing on Earth obliterating the Dinosaurs. Now this opening is very goofy in its own right as it is, but when it applying context it open plot holes. A consistent problem with the story is it instinct to zip past everything and anything that would otherwise develop the thin plot and thinner characters. Tarzan as a protagonist is not engaging because the most important traits of him in this story are never given a second thought. We never see Tarzan adapt to jungle rather it times skip where he’s older, but in a nonspecific age range where he could still be considered young. His backstory is not even worth bringing up. You know, only his parents in a Helicopter crash that exploded and kid Tarzan got out without a single scratch. Not only that, but the female Gorilla that found him loss her husband (who I would have named Mighty Joe Young) by the hands of murderous Gorilla Ishmael and her newborn baby on the same day stumbles upon a sleeping Tarzan. You assume a normal human being would be sad about losing loving parents, but apparently being raised by Gorilla makes him forget about it. Until the writers realize the title character has been a piece a paper the whole time and shove some force characterization down our throats with a side blandness.
Issue number two is not only how the studios behind this clearly never read a novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, but is too heavy handed on the environmental message. Unlike Tarzan character whose the definition of a tree huger, William Clayton (our villain) immediately upon seeing him has villain written all over his design. His smiles has a clear double meaning, he’s the president of a company who wants to make more money even though they are rich, and can get forget since he’s from modern era travels to the jungle draining it sources with military force. Wait a minute….that’s from Avatar (2009) without anything positive to be discovered. I kid you not when I made the connection of where it stole from I literally did a facepalm because Burrough wrote over twenty books on Tarzan and other authors are still continuing his story to this very day. So out of all the potential books, radio programs, stage plays, and television series the film writers could have taken plot points from they chose Avatar (2009) which is in no conceivable way is works with the character of Tarzan. While on this topic how come William Clayton just doesn’t find another alternative to produce energy. From what the film gives us the meteorite can produce life and produce large amount energy and you know what else can do just that? The sun. It’s so blatantly obvious that William Clayton is in a position to invest in that technology and for that matter he’s given never a reason to be sold as a villain. He’s the president of a company even though he’s not the heir so why….oh yeah save the planet message by claiming all rich and successful people hate nature.
Okay so I didn’t criticize as so much listed things that irritated me, but there is not a single thing that is done right in the story. The romance between Tarzan and Jane is half baked. They spent years apart from their first meeting yet still fall in love with each other in a single day. Also, Jane father never ages despite both Tarzan and Jane clearly showing some signs of aging while Jane’s father remains the same. There is also a scene where Tarzan fights against mutated plant life has contributes nothing to the narrative other than being a pointless set piece. On that matter Tarzan isn’t shown conquering wildlife. Most of the time he needs a knife to get by in the wilderness whenever he’s facing a animal. While yes it is bit a realistic it contradicted when Tarzan can literally run from hot humid jungle to a snowed volcanic mountain without breaking a sweat. Finally the big dramatic moments are heartless. Events that are meant to make it audience feel something come out bitterly cruel against the writers. It’s says something when the death of no characters hold any weight unless the writer intentionally wanted to use every cheap writing trick.
Once the movie ended the cast name finally appeared and….no. It can’t be…not him again….KELLAN LUTZ! Why must you set out to and try your hardest (or laziest when it comes acting) to destroy iconic characters. Who’s next on your hit list to destroy; is it Vash the Stampede, Spike Spiegel, Moby-Dick (yes the whale), Don Diego de la Vega, and don’t you dare think about Yorick Brown. Just like Kellan Lutz did for Hercules in “The Legend of Hercules” his interpretation of Tarzan is unredeeming in all area. It doesn’t help when he did the motion capture himself for Tarzan. Originally I was giving him a free pass since movement is mostly up to the animators, but seeing how mechanical his character move I can’t. His movement is restraint to the point that seeing him run is an achievement. The way Tarzan move is delayed even when he swinging there’s no sense of weight to how he move. Every movement is stiffed and basic. His acting on the other hand while limited is emotionless. Lutz has the easy task of not saying sentences that required him to say more than four words and his line delivery as you might guessed is lifeless.
The camera spends a lot of time in the luscious jungles heavy on foliage is the film only good aspect. What Reinhard Kloss failed to achieve is immersing the audience with the beauty of nature. With a soundtrack that won’t shut up we’re never given a moment to just take the jungle all in. Never seeing it in the way Tarzan sees it rather we see it as a bland environment for a heavy handed the forest message. Also he doesn’t pay attention much to the human characters with their faces looking odd with wrong facial placements. Can’t forget the editing. Sometime a scene can end to early. For example, when Tarzan and Jane share a seemingly intimate moment at night in the jungle learning about one another it cuts abruptly to the next scene in the middle of a conversation. It’s an recurring problem especially when regarding the livelihood of the film’s villain when it just fades into another scene during what appears to be the villain vague death from a Helicopter crash. Other voice actors are terrible, though that would go to the script and given none of the actors had to do motion capture to the extent of Kellan Lutz won’t applied to them.
Tarzan is yet another example of a failure to adapt any semblance of the source material and even more so capturing it the true heart of the source material. Most fundamentally being in this film (and countless of others) is Tarzan is a lot more intellectual in the novel than compared to the films. Instead of using Tarzan isolation from humanity and a unwillingness to speak to build a character becomes it biggest handicap never getting the audience to feel any emotions. It’s a product created by stolen ideas from better filmmakers who made with effort and a false concept on the true essence of the character. It’s another classic ruined by filmmakers that look at the exterior instead of truly understanding why characters like these and many others survive as long they do.