Tarzan Elephants

Grandson of Edgar Rice Burroughs: “At Last We Have a Winner”; Other ERB Fans Also Smiling

ERBDOM, Legend of Tarzan (Movie), Legend of Tarzan Reviews

On Tuesday night in Burbank,  what could be the toughest audience of all — friends, family, and lifelong fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs including John Burroughs, the grandson of ERB — emerged from a special screening at Warner Brothers Studios and lavished heartfelt praise on the movie they had just seen.

For context, you have to imagine — these are long-suffering folks who, while they have embraced some of what Hollywood has offered in its previous fifty plus attempts (Tarzan and His Mate, the second Weissmuller film, gets some love) — they have generally suffered through a recurring experience ranging from mild to acute disappointment whenever they trek to a studio for their special screening of the next Burroughs movie just before it’s release.

So what was the reaction this time?

As the credits ended and the lights went up, John Burroughs stood up and was heard to say:  “Thank God, we finally have a winner.”  Then he slipped out a side door and spent ten minutes walking alone on the darkened studio lot.  When he returned to the lobby, I had a chance to talk to him.  He was elated — and visibly moved as he talked about the movie.  “I’m speechless.. . . Finally there is one that my grandfather would have appreciated.  It’s beautiful, everything about it is beautiful. I’m so grateful.”

With the help of Cathy Wilbanks of ERB Inc, I got a picture with John. His smile says more than any words can possibly say and it was very special for me to be standing in the glow of what he was clearly feeling.

John Burroughs and Michael Sellers

More Reactions

In the scramble in the lobby, parking lot, and back at the hotel, I managed to grab reactions from as many as I could.  It seems that John Burroughs was not alone in approving of what David Yates has done with the prized creation of Edgar Rice Burroughs. (I think that in addition to what they said in the lobby, I will also add what people are saying about the movie on their facebook pages….)

“The best Tarzan movie of them all, and I’ve seen every single one of them.” James G. “Huck” Huckenpohler.

“Absolutely fantastic. . . . This magnanimous, awe-inspiring, action-packed, passionate film took me on a roller coaster of emotions. Happiness that we finally got the Tarzan movie we’ve always waited for. Sadness when the credits rolled and we had to leave our hero and heroine again. Retribution when our hero does… What he does. Overwhelming passion for the relationships in the film, both woman and beast alike. This is 99% the perfect Tarzan film, and the color of his hair really isn’t that big a deal, is it?”
Leia Powell

“I’ve seen it three times — it gets better and better. I love it.”
Cathy Wilbanks

“It’s better than any of the other Tarzan movies, but I don’t have a high opinion of many of them, so that’s not saying too much, but it’s a pretty darn good movie.
Bob Zeuschner

Without doubt, the greatest TARZAN film ever made! See it twice! See it thrice! An amazingly exciting and emotional adventure!
Martin Powell

(I did find one, but only one, naysayer — so here he is, God Bless ya, Tim……)

I had the same problem as Greystoke. Liked the first half, not the second.
Tim Clark

I saw “The Legend of Tarzan” at a special Warner Bros. screening last night with some 200 other diehard fans. It is joyous. . . Since childhood, this is the Tarzan I’ve wanted to see on screen, faithful in spirit to the Burroughs novels. The jungle is raw. The dangers are “real.” The villains are badder than bad. The historical period may not fully satisfy the Tarzan chronologists, but it’s close enough and serves the exciting story it wants to tell. The gorillas are gorillas-plus (mangani). We even get a glimpse of the gates of Opar. . . . But most important, the portrayals of Tarzan and Jane are spot-on. You believe this couple from start to finish. (And yes, the loincloth DOES make an appearance. Be patient, my friends.) . . . Is the movie perfect? Probably not, but it comes so damn close that I don’t care. . . . See the movie now, in a theater, rather than wait. It needs to prove itself in the marketplace NOW so the studio will make more of them.

Wally Conger

I loved it. I liked that there were lots of special effects, but that they did not overdo the violence. They packed so much into it, I will need to see it again and again and will enjoy it every time. Rush to your theater!

Diane Miller

There were at least a half dozen others that I talked to, all glowingly favorable, but I wasn’t taking notes and so if you read this and were there — leave a comment below so I can incorporate it into the “archival version” for posterity!  Meanwhile I will gather some more comments from here on the interwebs.

7 comments

  • First, Legend of Tarzan is a very good movie. It’s beautifully shot. The pacing and emotional impact is well done. I think the critics and public will embrace this version of Tarzan and if it does well at the box office, I believe it is positioned very well for sequels. (As I write this the Tomatoe Meter is 24%, so I’m in shock the critics didn’t embrace this amazing effort) With that being said, I just wanted to give a heads up to all the ERB Tarzan fans looking forward to seeing a Tarzan Lord of the Jungle movie. **Spoilers ahead** With all the talk of Tarzan embracing his savage/animalistic side, alas this is not that movie. This is Tarzan the Eco-Warrior, a friend and protector of all animals of the jungle. I believe I know why the writers went in this direction. They want Tarzan to be an eco-warrior who doesn’t dominate but works with nature. Even though Jane mentions that Tarzan has an animal sprit and conquered them, he never actually conquers any animal in the film. He gets the animals to work with him because they either remember him (lions), he gains their trust or calls them to his vicinity with mating calls. Tarzan still does amazing and heroic moments in the movie but at times it seemed as if they (the writers) are holding him back. I hope the public embraces this Tarzan because he really is the closest Tarzan we’ve ever had, and my complaints can all be addressed in a sequel or two, so go out and support this film.

  • “The Legend of Tarzan” is joyous.

    Since childhood, this is the Tarzan I’ve wanted to see on screen, faithful in spirit to the Burroughs novels. The jungle is raw. The dangers are “real.” The villains are badder than bad. The historical period may not fully satisfy the Tarzan chronologists, but it’s close enough and serves the exciting story it wants to tell. The gorillas are gorillas-plus (mangani). We even get a glimpse of the gates of Opar.

    But most important, the portrayals of Tarzan and Jane are spot-on. You believe this couple from start to finish.

    Is the movie perfect? Probably not, but it comes so damn close that I don’t care.

  • First, thank you, Will and Wally, for sharing your positive opinions on the film with us here! Makes me super excited to see the movie (which I’ll hopefully be seeing sometime this weekend). And so good to read all the other positive reviews, esp from ERB family members and longtime ERB/Tarzan fans. Here’s hoping LOT has a successful run in the theaters! 🙂

  • Tarzan and Jane have all the steely determination ERB wrote into his heroes, and Tarzan’s feral ferocity seems always to threaten just below the surface. If graphic brutality is not fully presented on the screen, blame the filmmakers’ desire to keep a PG-13 rating. Skarsgard leaves no doubt that he’s capable of whatever is necessary.

    And if they are not graphic, Tarzan’s and Jane’s mutual love and passion are electric. There’s no doubt in my mind that romantic intensity was an underappreciated foundation of ERB’s success. It gave meaning to the adventures.

    I really like Wally’s two-sentence summation. The overall sense of elation after the screening defied language.

  • Was privileged to be part of the group that viewed the movie on Tuesday evening, at the Warner Bros. studio lot. The anticipation before the screening was electric. And this carried on to the reactions expressed by all at the conclusion. The final credits were greeted with a thunderous applause by all viewers. As we exited the theatre, acclaim and admiration could be heard coming from all directions. The Legend of Tarzan was an overwhelming hit with all attendees.

    Outside of the theatre after the screening, was also privileged to have a few words with John Burroughs, ERB’s grandson. He was absolutely glowing with post movie euphoria. His statements of the movie producers getting it right, and the story line being family approved were very heartfelt. His enthusiasm was contagious. Highly enjoyed the few moments of conversation with him.

    The movie presents a Tarzan for our times. While taking place back during the colonial days of the Belgium Congo, we are presented with characters that are acceptable to our modern values. And at the same time following in the vein of the original story teller, Edgar Rice Burroughs. Very enjoyable and entertaining!

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