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Best Tease Yet of the Legend of Tarzan Story Setup

Legend of Tarzan (Movie), Tarzan and Hollywood

We all know that Legend of Tarzan begins with Tarzan living as a British Lord, then he goes to Africa and adventures ensue.   Kevin Polowy, writing in Yahoo Movies, has laid it out very nicely based on what he learned at the Cinemacon presentation.  Drawing on Skarsgard’s quotes, here’s how he puts it:

“It’s not the Tarzan that you expect,” Alexander Skarsgård said last week at CinemaCon in Las Vegas about the hero he plays in the upcoming adventure reboot, The Legend of Tarzan. While most Hollywood remakes focus on origin stories, this movie goes in the other direction.

Directed by four-time Harry Potter helmer David Yates, The Legend of Tarzan opens a decade after its hero has left the African jungles, where he was raised by great apes since he was an infant. He’s now a fully-clothed, tea-sipping British aristocrat named John Clayton (no relation to the ESPN analyst). There are no fish-out-of-water antics here: Clayton is fully acclimated to sophisticated society and happily married to Jane (Suicide Squad’s Margot Robbie). “I thought that was really smart when I first read the script,” Skarsgård said.

Of course, no one wants to see Merchant Ivory’s Tarzan. “He plays the part of a Victorian lord really well,” Skarsgård said. “But he’s also not happy. And Jane can tell that he’s not happy. She’s not happy, either. They spent most of her childhood in Africa — that’s where they met.”

Enter Samuel L. Jackson’s George Washington Williams, who lures Clayton/Tarzan back to his homeland with news about the cruelty of the evil Captain Rom (Christoph Waltz), who’s based on the real-life Congo conqueror King Leopold II. “People are going to learn something about King Leopold, and the Holocaust that was happening in the world, and how many animals he killed in his quest for diamonds, ivory, and rubber,” said Jackson (who, incidentally, revealed that he did drop a few f-bombs during filming, but doesn’t know if any will make the PG-13 release’s final cut.)

Williams persuades a reluctant Clayton to return home. “He’s afraid, primarily of himself and what he’s capable of as Tarzan,” Skarsgård said. “And slowly the layers come off, physically and literally, and he reverts back to a more animalistic state.”

I have to say, I love the fact that everyone thinks it’s so unique that Tarzan can speak, dress, and act like a civilized person, and is living in London at the start of the story — since ERB started the second, third, and fourth Tarzan books with Tarzan living as a civilized man in London and Paris.

Still, I love it, and clearly WB is getting some traction on the whole idea of a “new take on Tarzan.”


  • Lol I hope those F-bombs made the cut. I think you can get in at least two or three into a PG-13 rating? I’m not sure.

      • The MPAA description did say “rude language.” I thought at first it meant the N-word which I believe one test screening viewer said was used in the film at least once, but perhaps includes this too.

  • Swearing! Sex! This is going to leave those who still think this is a Disney film very very confused. 🙂

    i09 has a 35 Movies To Watch for This Summer list up, and LOT is on it. That annoying ‘did anyone ask for this’ gets brought up, though it’s an otherwise positive blurb:

    The Legend of Tarzan (July 1)

    There are few bigger question-marks this summer than The Legend of Tarzan. It picks up after the Tarzan legend we all know, to tell the story of what happens when a more civilized Tarzan has to rediscover his animal side to save both his love and the jungle. The trailers make everything look really big and fun, director David Yates (Harry Potter) inspires hope, and the cast (Alexander Skarsgard, Samuel L. Jackson, Margot Robbie, Christoph Waltz) is amazing. But still, is this something audiences want?

    • You know, I just watched the new Independence Day: Resurgence trailer and it looks dull. I mean, from a direction/cinematography point of view it looks dull, but also from a plot standpoint… it’s the same old destruction of cities and whatnot. There’s nothing particularly interesting about it. Listening to that Q&A, the first thing Yates said about why he chose to do this film was that all the scripts he was being sent were the same old shit, the same destruction of cities and they were all just the same “color,” whereas this Tarzan script was completely new and fresh. And you can tell – the premise is new, it’s interesting, it’s nothing you’ve seen before in a Tarzan movie. It’s also completely different looking than any other blockbuster film coming out. Most of the movies like ID:R or Suicide Squad etc. just look exactly the same with the same drab, dark, Snyder-ish color palette (compare that to all the beautiful landscape shots and other shots of the forest bathed in sunlight etc. from LOT). Captain America of course looks just like every other Marvel movie – they’ve managed to retain the same blandness across all of their superhero films somehow. You’d *think* journalists/critics who always talk about how there are too many superhero movies coming out nowadays and not many original movies etc., you’d *think* they’d want to promote/hype/build up a movie of this sort, yet all I’m seeing is people constantly being skeptical about it, dismissive of it, or “cautiously optimistic” about it, while at the same time going ape shit over the same kinds of movies they despair over all the time. I just don’t get it.

      • I think it’s the whole ” avoidance of commitment” thing going on today regarding anything different. It’s one thing to call for something different in general and another to openly espouse a particular and very specific thing that is different. LOL is that very specific thing and they are afraid that if the public ends up not embracing it,they will look ” different” themselves and get rejected too. So ,they go with the flow while yammering for a change,which also seems to be a ” thing” of today and not just with critics. With Holkywood planning to revive Indiana Jones and Blade Runner,the old fashioned action adventure romance seems to be on its way back with Tarzan at the leading edge. You would think one of them would notice that trend and at least point it out instead of scratching their heads and acting all befuddled about its acceptance by audiences satiated by the crash bang blow it all up films and the high gloss plastic look of the comic book heroes. But no. No risk takers out there. Not this early ,at least. Maybe one of them will get bold as more promo shows up and speak up about how refreshing it’s differences are and the rest like good little popcorn kernels will start to pop one by one until the whole kettle starts poping. I certainly hope so.

      • I think those are good observations. There are lots of things that differentiate it from the usual fare, and that could be a good thing….or not. In this case, the way in which it is different is very inviting — the lushness of the jungle, and the sense of a really inviting world. I was struck by how many shots in the first trailer give us a sense of scale and scope — the big wide aerial to open, the aerial of the treehouse, the various other clifftop shots and shots with horizons in them . . . There is an epic feel and grandness to all that that is pretty inviting . . . and then you have the lushness of the jungle when you get into it, and the mysteriousness of it. It definitely has a unique visual flavor that differentiates it from all the others that you mention.

      • I love the first ID, it’s a good cheeseball, stupid movie.
        But the two trailers I’ve seen of IDR look just stupid, despite reading several times this week how great this new trailer was.
        From a FX standpoint, if all you want are destroyed cities, then it’s fine. But we get that quite often now. And the dialogue, other than ‘they do like to go after the monuments’, was not good.
        The script didn’t impress Susan Sarandon:
        Oh, actually I did just turn down a big, big Part 2 of something. When I read the script, I couldn’t understand what was going on. I just couldn’t understand it. Seriously. A lot of the people from the original one were not going to be doing it, and I read it and I just thought, “No. I can’t. I just can’t.”
        Was it “Independence Day”?
        Sarandon, nodding vigorously: How did you know?
        Just put some pieces together. A lot of people not returning? Yep.
        Sarandon: But seriously, I read that and I did not have the faintest idea. They said, “Wait till you see how your character dies.” And I read that part and thought, “It’s not so great, actually. It’s not so interesting.”
        Byrne: That’s their selling point? “Look at this great death scene!”
        Sarandon: Killed by a monster in two seconds? I was like, “Really? That’s not that great.”
        I do think it’ll do great box office its first weekend. If it turns out to be a decent movie, it will eat into LOT’s box office.
        LOT isn’t like the other movies out there this summer, it’s more of a ‘movie movie’ as the Variety buzzmeter from CinemaCon said. I’ve always gotten more of a Raiders of the Lost Ark vibe from what they’ve trying to go with, and I think if it’s done well movie goers will respond to that. It’s a fun movie, with a darker subtext, that’s not comic book, or blowing stuff up, or a reboot. Yes, there have been dozens of Tarzan movies, but this isn’t a remake/sequel. If WB understands how to market that they might just have sleeper hit on their hands.

        • Yeah, I watched it. The first trailer was a complete waste. The second one offers a lot of spectacle but …. what’s the pitch . . . . . it feels like the same thing all over again. The one moment in the trailer when my interest was piqued was when they talked about having developed new technologies in the aftermath of the first one — I can’t even explain why that intrigued me, but it’s a testament to how badly the rest of it didn’t intrigue me–that I would remember something as minor as that. Just not much to grab onto in the trailer.

          But still . . . . . . I worry.

        • I used to watch the first Independence Day a lot on TV when I was a kid, but I watched it again as an adult a few years ago, and though I kinda sorta enjoyed the mindless spectacle, I found the film to be painfully average. But the big appeal was actually Will Smith and then later the Will Smith/Jeff Goldblum team up. Now, Jeff Goldblum is great and all, but he’s not a box office draw, and with the lack of Will Smith, I don’t see this movie doing that well at the box office. Oh sure, it’ll likely have a big opening weekend, but I think it’ll be frontloaded and experience big drops the second weekend onwards.

          • It had fun one liners, Smith and Goldblum, and stuff got blown up. But stuff gets blown up all the time now, and when was the last time Emmerich made a decent movie? And Liam Hemsworth has nowhere near the screen presence that Smith does.
            And as for director Emmerich, he’s really not that good, I think ID and The Patriot were outliers for him in terms of quality.
            There seems to be more enthusiasm for it now then in December when the first trailer came out. But to me it looks like like any other CGI disaster movie, with possibly even worse dialogue. So it’ll be interesting to see what the reviews and word of mouth are. Nostalgia for the first movie only takes you so far.

  • There’s some goober on IMDB who is quite sure that this Fandago survey (which I’m presuming is self-selected) means that LOT is going to flop.

    Fandango has just released the results of their annual “Most Anticipated Summer Films” poll. There aren’t a ton of surprises, but I thought I’d dig into the results to see what clues or wisdom it offers.

    That reaffirms my belief that ID4 2 is going to be a monster when it drops on June 24th. Having seen Fox’s CinemaCon “sizzle reel” a few days ago, I can vouch that the next Independence Day: Resurgence trailer, which I assume will play either with Civil War or with X-Men: Apocalypse, is a doozy. It’s a marked improvement on the first, admittedly low-key teaser trailer and it looks amazing on a big screen.

    As for Suicide Squad, it opens on August 6th, so I wouldn’t worry too much about that one once the rest of the field clears out. Like any number of late August blockbusters in years past, Suicide Squad will benefit if the June/July offerings underwhelm. So you can be sure that Warner is hoping that The Conjuring 2, Central Intelligence, and Legend of Tarzan are all lousy underperformers! No, wait… that’s not right! But you get the idea. If it’s good, it will be fine.

    Among the titles that didn’t make the top five are The Legend of Tarzan (Warner), Warcraft (Universal), and Star Trek Beyond (Paramount). The latter still has a big trailer debut coming on May 20th, and I imagine it will help convert those put off by the “How dare you sell this to general audiences?” teaser from last December.

  • Yeah,I read said goobers comments. Seems like his rationale goes like this. What?.Not in the top 5? = automatic flop. Besides the fact that it’s too early to survey the whole summer lineup with any accuracy since some movies have yet to hit hard and heavy with their full promo and others are well into it, there is the validity of such surveys that are based on a limited number of potential viewers.

    • The critical thinking skills of said goober are lacking. These surveys can be a guide, but if you look back at only Fandago’s surveys over the years there’s always some movie that flopped that people wanted to see, and of course movies that didn’t make the cut that did fine. Not unlike critics most anticipated lists.
      According to EW, the survey for this year’s most anticipated had 1000 Fandango users surveyed. So not exactly representative of all movie goers, though it seems to be presumed that way. And one of the 10 most anticipated for this year was Zoolander 2.

  • > It had fun one liners, Smith and Goldblum, and stuff got blown up. But stuff gets blown up all the time now, and when was the last time Emmerich made a decent movie? And Liam Hemsworth has nowhere near the screen presence that Smith does.

    Exactly. Emmerich’s last movie was “Stonewall” which was almost universally panned.

    > And as for director Emmerich, he’s really not that good, I think ID and The Patriot were outliers for him in terms of quality.

    Yeah, he’s not a very talented director at all. The Patriot was OK, I thought, but nothing particularly good or memorable. Heck, Mel Gibson himself could have directed it far better.

    > There seems to be more enthusiasm for it now then in December when the first trailer came out. But to me it looks like like any other CGI disaster movie, with possibly even worse dialogue. So it’ll be interesting to see what the reviews and word of mouth are. Nostalgia for the first movie only takes you so far.

    Well, critically it’ll be a bust. The first movie got a mixed reception and I think this will get a worse one.

  • I think it works if you use regular markup. I’m going to try one now. You just write the word blockquote and at the beginning you put < and at the end you put />

    I had this story from one who had no business to tell it to me, or to any other. I may credit the seductive influence of an old vintage upon the narrator for the beginning of it, and my own skeptical incredulity during the days that followed for the balance of the strange tale.

    When my convivial host discovered that he had told me so much, and that I was prone to doubtfulness, his foolish pride assumed the task the old vintage had commenced, and so he unearthed written evidence in the form of musty manuscript, and dry official records of the British Colonial Office to support many of the salient features of his remarkable narrative.

    • Ah, right, I know about blockquote, I thought of using it, but then I saw this WordPress markdown page and it said to simply use > but I guess it depends on if you have that feature enabled or not.

      Anyway, thanks.

  • I’m putting this here, since I’m not sure where else to put it, but it relates to marketing LOT and making sure audiences understand that this isn’t a live action remake of the animated Tarzan or an immediate sequel to Jungle Book, in other words this isn’t a Disney movie. Because apparently everything is Disney now:

    “In regards to the social conversation, RelishMix notices something quite striking that might curtailing business and that is some may think Huntsman is a live action version of Frozen: “Related to plot, it is challenging to describe how much of the (social) conversation is related to arguments over whether or not this film is a Snow White prequel, or somehow related to Disney’s Frozen. Some comments, enough to be noteworthy, literally ask if this is a live action version of the 2013 Disney animated mega-hit, Frozen.”

    Of course, LOT is its own universe, and apparently doesn’t cobble together from recently similarly themed movies (and is also hopefully a much better movie than Huntsman), but there do seem to be marketing pitfalls here that hopefully WB will avoid.

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