Sections of this film are so imaginative, and so lovely, that they deserve our open-heartedness, not our scorn.
So what are we supposed to do with Tarzan, now that we know better? It would be easier, maybe, to retire him forever than to try to replace his loincloth of casual unselfconsciousness with a specially designed supergarment of awareness and sophisticated thinking.
But it’s impossible for art to move things forward if we simply think of the past as a place where everyone got everything wrong. With The Legend of Tarzan, Yates—who directed four of the Harry Potter movies, infusing all of them with the proper velvety, moody magic—gives us the best possible Tarzan for our time, one who seems to know intuitively what a complicated minefield he’s stepping onto. That doesn’t diminish the pleasures of the movie—it simply makes us feel better about savoring them. And sections ofThe Legend of Tarzan are so imaginative, and so lovely, that they deserve our open-heartedness, not our scorn.