Reviewed by: David Peterson
Starring: Jane March, Casper Van Dien, Steven Waddington / Director: Carl Schenkel / Released by: Warner Bros.
It may be more than you needed (or wanted!) to know, but when I was a kid, I used to run around in my back yard wearing nothing but a loin cloth and carrying my trusty plastic knife! Indeed, I was a die-hard Tarzan fan. The Ape-Man himself would have been proud.
Though my fanaticism has calmed considerably (my wife is thankful), I still can’t resist seeing any attempt at bringing my boyhood hero to the big screen. The most recent incarnation being “Tarzan and the Lost City”, starring Casper Van Dien (“Starship Troopers”) as the bronzed jungle giant.
The film begins with John Clayton (Tarzan) at a party in his honor. We are told that he is to be married to Jane Porter (Jane March) in one week. But while gazing at the fire place, Tarzan has a vision of his African tribal friends in serious trouble. Not willing to leave his friends in need, he tells Jane that the wedding must wait while he returns to Africa.
Tarzan leaves immediately for Africa to track down the reality behind his vision. Upon arriving, he finds out about a greedy and brutal mercenary, Nigel Ravens (Steve Waddington) who is mounting an expedition to find the famed lost city of Opar. Tarzan vows to do everything possible to stop him.
A few weeks into the adventure, Jane shows up in Africa looking for her groom to be. She inadvertently meets Ravens who develops a less than honorable fondness for her. After finding out that she is betrothed to his hated enemy, Ravens seeks to capture her and kill the Ape-man.
Eventually the expedition reaches the gate to the lost city. As they prepare to blast their way through, the natives attack and suffer unfortunate defeat. As they push on toward the city, Tarzan decides to follow them—he must rescue Jane and prevent the pillaging of Opar.
The caves and caverns leading to the city are full of traps and hazards. Once through the treacherous passageways, the expedition is confronted by a mysterious tribal wizard who has prepared numerous terrors and illusions to stop them. Tarzan, the rescued Jane, and one of his friends also make it through the caves only to find themselves substantially outnumbered and outgunned. The wizard appears and tells them that help has arrived. He then proceeds to cast a handful of bones onto the ground which transform into full-fledged warriors!
Of course there is a final reckoning for Ravens, with the temple of the mystical city lending its own power to help finish him off.
Tarzan and the Lost City is an entertaining film if you enjoy this genre of heroic adventures. It contains some well done special effects and some beautiful scenery of African landscapes and animals. I found Casper Van Dien to be more believable than Christopher Lambert (“Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan Lord of the Apes”) in terms of physical prowess and appearance, but unfortunately the plot doesn’t allow for much character depth or development.
The film contains no nudity whatsoever (but does have one brief scene with Jane dressed in her undergarments) and no profanity that I could recall. The bulk of the action scenes are remarkably mild with no gushing blood nor grimacing death sequences. The death of Ravens is the one exception. Though not excessively graphic, it is a pretty intense scene none the less, especially for children.
Tarzan fans who wish Hollywood would do justice to Edgar Rice Burroughs' classic character probably won’t be satisfied, but if you want a little adventure with a decent hero from days gone by, go see “Tarzan and the Lost City”.