Tag: the legend of tarzan
The latest adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ colonialist story proves it cannot be given a modern overhaul, writes critic Sam Adams.
The Legend of Tarzan, the latest big-screen version of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ vine-swinging he-man, is a sincere and well-intentioned attempt to wrestle with the legacy of European colonialism in Africa. It is also a movie in which a man punches a gorilla. You could say it’s at war with itself, but it’s a war involving soldiers who are never quite sure who they’re fighting, and who are as likely to slip in the mud and break their own necks as they are to get off a clean shot.
Directed by David Yates and written by Adam Cozad and Craig Brewer, Legend would more accurately, if less economically, be called The Legend of the Legend of Tarzan. When we pick up the story in the late 19th Century, John Clayton (Alexander Skarsgård) is already an international folk hero, an English nobleman raised by apes and returned to his native land. As George Williams (Samuel L Jackson), an American soldier of fortune who’s come to persuade John to return to the Belgian Congo, puts it, he is “Africa’s favorite son”.
The irony of that epithet being bestowed by a black Civil War veteran is not lost on The Legend of Tarzan. And indeed, for a time, it seems as if Yates and company have a handle on how to reshape Edgar Rice Burroughs imperialist fantasy for the modern age. The opening sequence, in which a fastidious Belgian commander leads his soldiers through the jungle mists, is full of redolent images: the bodies of dead troops hung on makeshift crosses, their own rifles used as crossbars; an African tribesman starring indomitably into the lens, a colonist’s white linen hat perched incongruously atop his head.
King of nothing
Unfortunately, the imperative to produce a viable box-office entertainment trumps The Legend of Tarzan’s noble intentions at every turn. We’re cued to hiss at Rom (Christoph Waltz), the Belgian commander, whose first onscreen act is to rip an African flower from its stem, and who, in an especially rococo touch, uses a spider-silk rosary as an offensive weapon. But when tribal soldiers spring from the water beneath his feet, in the variable-speed slow motion that Yates abuses throughout, the effect makes them seem both more and less than human.
We meet kinder Africans later, the cheerful villagers who take John in after his battered body is discovered in the jungle. But it’s Jane (Margot Robbie), the white daughter of an American missionary, who nurses him back to health, and who later becomes his wife. It’s a story inextricably entwined with Europe’s relationship to ‘the dark continent’, and yet actual Africans keep getting pushed to the side.
The Legend of Tarzan has other problems, like its inability to decide whether it wants John Clayton to be James Bond or Aquaman – although it’s best when he’s Michael Douglas in Romancing the Stone. This Tarzan doesn’t just speak to the animals: he commands them – the word “conquer” is used without apparent irony – eventually mustering an army of incompatible species to fend off an influx of Rom’s troops that would effectively make the entirety of the Belgian Congo a slave state.
One waits in vain for the revelation that Rom’s real surname is Blofeld. The movie’s initial feints at gritty relevance seem disingenuous, if not downright foolish, once John starts swinging from vines and conversing with crocodiles. At one point, the camera lingers on a boxcar full of elephant tusks, and later, we see another train carrying African men in chains. But then it’s on to another perfunctory chase scene, or a confrontation between Waltz’ moustachioed villain and Robbie’s defiant hostage. (Of course he takes her hostage: for all its contemporary touches, Legend’s plot could have been lifted from a silent melodrama.) These images of unfathomable atrocity are newspaper stuffed in the movie’s cracks, fresh filigree on a dull and worn garment.
At times, Yates seems desperate to jazz up the action, shooting one conversation between John and George in a series of whirlpooling shots that add nothing to the scene but a mild feeling of motion sickness. Perhaps it’s a way of compensating in advance for the movie’s action scenes, a lackluster jumble of weightless CGI and chiseled abs. (Yes, Skarskård’s sculpted torso is impressive, but it’s an unlikely physique for a man in the 1890s.) Major studio movies increasingly feel like acts of brand maintenance first and stories second, and Legend is the latest link in that worn-out chain. It’s a Tarzan movie because there have always been Tarzan movies, not because there was any compelling reason to add one more to the list.
At its core it’s the story of a white European who asserts his dominion, however benevolently, over wild African creatures: like Kipling’s The Jungle Book, it can be tinkered with, but its heart doesn’t change. Humans need stories, but the stories we need change, and sometimes old ones die out because the needs they addressed or the ideas they encompassed no longer apply. It might be time to let Tarzan vanish back into the jungle.
It has been years since the man once known as Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) left the jungles of Africa behind for a gentrified life in London as John Clayton III, Lord Greystoke, with his beloved wife, Jane Porter (Margot Robbie) at his side. Now, he has been invited back to the Congo to serve as a trade emissary of Parliament, unaware that he is a pawn in a deadly convergence of greed and revenge, masterminded by the corrupt Belgian Captain Léon Rom (Christoph Waltz).
The Legend of Tarzan is an upcoming American action adventure film drawn upon the fictional character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, scheduled for release in 2016. Directed by David Yates and written by Adam Cozad and Craig Brewer, its cast comprises Alexander Skarsgård in the title role, and Samuel L. Jackson, Margot Robbie, Djimon Hounsou and Christoph Waltz.
Principal photography began on June 30, 2014, at Warner Bros. Leavesden Studios in the UK, and wrapped four months later on October 3. Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures in Cooperation with Dark Horse Entertainment and Jerry Weintraub Productions are co-producing the film. It is scheduled for release on July 1, 2016 in 2D, 3D, IMAX and IMAX 3D. The film will be dedicated to Weintraub, who died on July 6, 2015.
The legend of Tarzan
Directed by: David Yates
Starring: Margot Robbie, Alexander Skarsgård, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, John Hurt, Ella Purnell, Lasco Atkins
Screenplay by: Adam Cozad, Craig Brewer
Production Design by: Stuart Craig
Cinematography by: Henry Braham
Film Editing by: Mark Day
Costume Design by: Ruth Myers
Set Decoration by: Anna Pinnock
Music by: Mario Grigorov
MPAA Rating: None.
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: July 1, 2016
Related Link: View the Full Production Notes for The Legend of Tarzan
Born: Margot Elise RobbieDate
Date of Birth: July 2, 1990
Birth Place: Dalby, Queensland, Australia
Height: 5′ 6″ (1,68 m)
Margot Robbie (born July 2 1990) is an Australian actress. Robbie started her career by appearing in Australian independent films in the late 2000s. She was later cast in the soap opera Neighbours (2008–2011), which earned her two Logie Award nominations. After moving to the United States, Robbie starred in the short-lived ABC drama series Pan Am (2011–2012).
In 2013, she made her big screen debut in Richard Curtis’s romantic comedy-drama film About Time and co-starred in Martin Scorsese’s biopic The Wolf of Wall Street. In 2015, Robbie co-starred in the romantic comedy-drama film Focus, appeared in the romantic World War II drama film Suite Française and starred in the sci fi film Z for Zachariah. In 2016, she has portrayed Jane Porter in the action-adventure film The Legend of Tarzan and Harley Quinn in the superhero film Suicide Squad.
After arriving in Los Angeles for pilot season, Robbie auditioned for the new series of Charlie’s Angels. However, the producers at Sony Pictures Television preferred her for a role in ABC drama series Pan Am alongside Christina Ricci. Robbie landed the role of Laura Cameron, a newly trained flight attendant. Pan Am was cancelled after one season due to falling ratings, despite receiving positive reviews from critics.
In May 2012, Robbie joined the cast of Richard Curtis’ romantic comedy About Time (2013) alongside Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams and Bill Nighy. About Time was released in the United Kingdom on 4 September 2013 and in the United States on 1 November 2013. The film received positive reviews and grossed $87 million on its $12 million budget.
In June 2012, it was announced that Robbie was in talks to appear in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) with Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill and Matthew McConaughey. Her casting was confirmed in August. The Wolf of Wall Street was released on 25 December 2013 to positive reviews and became a commercial success with a worldwide gross of $392 million[making it Scorsese’s highest grossing film. The film was subsequently nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
For her performance as Jordan Belfort’s second wife Naomi Lapaglia, Robbie was praised by critics for her Brooklyn accent. Critic Sasha Stone wrote “She’s Scorsese’s best blonde bombshell discovery since Cathy Moriarty in Raging Bull. Robbie is funny, hard and kills every scene she’s in”. She received a nomination for the MTV Movie Award for Best Breakthrough Performance and won the Empire Award for Best Newcomer.
In 2015, Robbie starred opposite Will Smith in romantic comedy-drama film Focus. In the film, she plays an inexperienced grifter learning the craft from Smith’s character. The film was released on February 27, 2015 to generally mixed reviews, however Robbie’s performance was praised. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone wrote “Robbie is a wow and then some.
The Aussie actress who made us sit up and take notice as Leonardo DiCaprio’s wife in The Wolf of Wall Street shows a comic flair backed up with beauty and steel. Even when Focus fumbles, Robbie deals a winning hand.” Focus grossed over $150 million worldwide. In 2015, Robbie received a nomination for the BAFTA Rising Star Award.
Also in 2015, Robbie played the leading role of Ann Burden in the film adaptation of Z for Zachariah with Chris Pine and Chiwetel Ejiofor, which was shot in New Zealand. The film premiered on 24 January 2015 at the Sundance Film Festival and had its theatrical release on 28 August 2015. The film received positive reviews. Robbie’s performance was praised by critics. Drew McWeeny of HitFix wrote “Robbie’s work here establishes her as one of the very best actresses in her age range today”.
Robbie appeared in a documentary special celebrating Neighbours’ 30th anniversary titled Neighbours 30th: The Stars Reunite, which aired in Australia and the UK in March 2015. She also appeared in Suite Française (2015) alongside Michelle Williams, Kristin Scott Thomas and Matthias Schoenaerts, an adaptation of Irène Némirovsky’s novel. The film received positive reviews.
Robbie made a cameo appearance in Adam McKay’s comedy-drama The Big Short, released on 11 December 2015. On 22 October 2014, Robbie joined Tina Fey in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (2016), a film adaptation of The Taliban Shuffle. She plays Tanya Vanderpoel, a British TV journalist.] The film also stars Martin Freeman and Alfred Molina and was released on 4 March 2016 by Paramount Pictures.