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Review of Legend of Tarzan by Martin Smiddy

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

Martin Smiddy is a longtime UK based Edgar Rice Burroughs fan. 

I’ve spent almost a week reading other fans opinions of and about Legend of Tarzan. As the general concencus is very positive I was in fear of expecting too much, but I need not have worried as the film even exceeded my expectations! I loved much about the film and even disagreed with many of the gripes some of the other fans had.

From the start I thought Alexander Skarsgard as Lord Greystoke/Tarzan had a commanding presence due to his height. He looked powerful, even in his society clothing.

Returning to Africa resulted in him being clothed for over an hour into the film, but I had no problem with that. Similarly, I had no dispute with the cut-off trousers instead of the traditional loin-cloth as under the circumstances of his return they seemed most apropriate. I was the first to be very critical of AS’s selection for the role but I was wrong, he was a great choice and did a great job.

I loved the “ghost in the trees” image and the movement around the jungle though. i would have liked to have seen more brachiating, arm over arm through the trees as well,as the vine swinging.

I loved that Tarzan carried Samuel L Jackson so easily on his back. I loved that it was explained that he was raised by mangani and not gorillas and I liked the explanation of the difference between the two.

Christopher Waltz was a great villain and Djimon Honsou was epic as M’bonga. One fan griped about Tarzan having his butt kicked too easily and too often. I wholeheartedly disagree with that as I was looking out for it, it appeared to be a total exaggeration! Waltz as Rom has a devilish garrotte that he he very quick and able to use. (It reminded me of the snare that Scott was trapped with in Greatest Adventure by Anthony Quayle…….yet Tarzan was able to burst out of strangle hold and better Rom quite swiftly. M’bonga was a strong opponent but Tarzan bettered him too, no complaint.
Tarzan did get a beating from his ape-brother Akut, but he HAD to take that to be re-accepted back into the tribe. The alternative would have been to kill Akut but he was needed later in the film. Tarzan wasn’t beaten by Akut, he accepted the beating! I wasn’t really bothered by Tarzan’s hair not being black even though it wouldn’t have taken much to do that!

Which brings me to the CGI animals: the apes……. I could believe their every move and mannerism and behaviour, absolutely brilliant! The lions were a nice touch that he had known since cubs and the forest elephants were superb….a far cry from the false ears on the Weissmuller elephants!! The stampede of wildebeest was fantastic, how the hell do they do that stuff?

I loved the nod to “Greystoke” where Lambert as Tarzan could mimic animals and birds, as that talent ultimately brought down Rom in Legend of Tarzan.

Margot Robbie was a truly modern woman who every feminist must have been delighted to see fighting her own corner.

Racism, I was worried about that but CLEARLY Tarzan comes over as anything but a racist fighting the causes and freeing those captured for slavery.

So, I was thrilled with the film; it was pure Burroughs in my opinion and the 3D version was exceptional in that there was no sensationalism for 3Ds sake! I’m going to see the 2D version tomorrow with an elderly neighbour who has been an ERB fan for longer than I have!
One gripe…..why in one of the flashbacks was the accursed “shipwreck” mentioned again?
Yes, I couldn’t shut up on the way home, Kate was laughing at me, but I loved it!


  • Excellent review! I concur about Alexander Skarsgard. He reminds me of Ron Ely with a dose of Christopher Lambert. Margot Robbie absolutely embodies Jane Porter. Both have terrific chemistry.

    Regarding this Tarzan’s fighting abilities, the brawl with the platoon of mercenadries on board the rail was the best close-quarter punch-up since the famous elevator scene in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

  • The only animal that felt odd to me was the leopard in the flashbacks. But perhaps it was intentional, to go with the surreal look of those flashbacks. That was a nice directing choice.

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