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The Legend of Tarzan

also known as “A Lenda de Tarzan,” “La leyenda de Tarzán,” “Legenda o Tarzanu,” See more »
MPA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPA) for sequences of action and violence, some sensuality and brief rude dialogue.

Reviewed by: Rev. Bryan Griem

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Action Adventure Fantasy Drama 3D IMAX Adaptation
1 hr. 49 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
July 1, 2016 (wide—3,450+ theaters)
DVD: October 11, 2016
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures
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Featuring Alexander Skarsgård … Tarzan
Margot Robbie … Jane Porter
Samuel L. JacksonGeorge Washington Williams
Ella Purnell … Young Jane Body Double
Christoph WaltzCaptain Rom
Djimon Hounsou … Chief Mbonga
Jim Broadbent
Casper Crump … Captain Kerchover
See all »
Director David Yates—“Hary Potter…” franchise
Producer Dark Horse Entertainment
Jerry Weintraub Productions
See all »
Distributor Warner Bros. Pictures

I sort of hoped the famous Johnny Weissmuller “Tarzan Yell” would be heard in this movie, but that was a thing of long ago, and this isn’t his movie, yet the makers still put in a similar, albeit more rugged version. I wasn’t really disappointed.

This rendition of Tarzan provides much of the classic story’s background in very quick fashion, about how baby Tarzan came to be the white ape and then returned to civilization. Of course now, everyone wants Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) to go back into the wild for a new adventure; some with very altruistic concerns, like those of George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson’s character) and some with greed-filled and wicked reasons, like those of murderous Captain Rom (Christoph Waltz). Tarzan obviously goes back, and with him goes his lovely and also jungle-tough wife, Jane (played by Margot Robbie).

As we should expect, the bad guys get very bad, and like any superhero, Tarzan saves the world from them, or at least, the Congo. As an audience member, I left feeling pretty good about things, when all was said and done. By the way, there is no post-credits scene at the end, so you don’t have to sit there wondering and wasting time, just leave and go refill your $8 tub of popcorn on your way out. I heard someone remark that this movie was like Terminator set in the jungle, but it is not like that. It is more like a mash-up of “Jurassic Park,” “Avatar,” and “Spider-Man.” If you see this film, all three of those movies will immediately come to mind, as certain scenes look almost exactly the same. And while I noticed this, it seemed to fit just fine; it was simply a reuse of apropos story features, even if the laws of physics get trampled pretty well. Gorillas are probably ten to twenty times stronger than human beings, yet Tarzan is punching it out with them, and he’s also swinging on vines that just go on forever without end.

The construct of Tarzan and Jane is reminiscent of the pre-fall Adam and Eve, where man and woman are perfectly paired, and both live with animals in perfect harmony. This story obviously takes place long after the fall of our first parents, and so the harmony seen between man and beast is brutally won or lost, as is that of man and fellow man. At least Tarzan and Jane are not presented as dysfunctional. That’s kind of nice, although some may find their momentary affections inappropriate for viewing. Suffice to say, it is little more than brief, passionate kissing, and a few seconds of growing desire before what we perceive is the aftermath of lovemaking. This is supposed to be a married couple, and there did not appear to me to be anything especially inappropriate or scintillating, so nobody’s sex radar should be disturbed much here.

While the movie is a Victorian period piece, the characters are rather modern, as is some of the content. Jane is not a helpless woman needing a Tarzan to save her, except that she is his wife, and he does. Tarzan is not an average guy, or a somewhat portly Weissmuller, he’s a very cut gym-rat with abs, and the natives are also pumping iron backstage, no doubt. I might add that Christoph Waltz is typecast as the cruel nerd with power that we’ve seen in his other roles (think “Inglorious Basterds”). Speaking of that other movie he was in, the objectionable word in the title finds its way into “The Legend of Tarzan,” and a couple of other words that do double duty as both appropriate and inappropriate terminology—depending on the circumstance—are also heard. On top of that, “God” is exclaimed (plus OMG and “Christ Almighty,” “damn” (2) as an expletive, “hell” (2), and the word used for excrement that people blurt when in a bad situation. If you blink you’ll miss them. The modern F-bomb is not used (thankfully), but just about all of what could be perceived as remotely profane gets uttered by Samuel L. Jackson (big surprise!).

As for violence, it’s there in spades—from armed combat, to point blank murder, to animal aggression, and even some brief butchering. You’ll see blood, beatings, stitches, trampling, and the like. There are also visual mentions of man’s inhumanity to both man and creature that we probably think more about today than they did back in the day. I won’t give it away; you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Religiously speaking, one fellow tells another that “faith is for missionaries!,” not having any himself. That’s an all too common sentiment these days. And the Antagonist wields a Catholic rosary like a weapon. Jane infers from this that he must’ve had an inappropriate relationship with his priest, growing up. That too, would be a more contemporarily perceived observation. But Tarzan, as a persistent, unrelenting and sacrificial savior, could be likened to Christ, if you think about it.

For whatever reservations there may be for the Christian viewer, I must say that the beauty of the scenery is wonderful, the period attire and circumstance is engaging, and the whole connection that Tarzan has with the creatures remind of biblical things, and how one day they will resolve with a new earth and restored humanity, just as God envisioned. As far as a Hollywood production goes, this movie is not terribly objectionable, excepting whatever sensibilities one might have about showing true-to-form violent action. I appreciate that loyalty, good triumphing evil, racial equality, and marital fidelity are all elements of this movie, and that sins like greed, hate, and revenge, are ugly, as they should be. I don’t think the trailers do the movie justice, but it’s a classic story revamped, and perhaps a mere taste is all the makers figured we needed. Aaahhhhhhhaaaaaahhhhhhaaaaaaaaaahhhha! (Tarzan yell…)

Editor’s Trivia: The sound of the famous Tarzan yell is acually a registered trademark and service mark, owned by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. (Registration Numbers 2210506, 3841800 and 4462890).

Violence: Heavy to extreme / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Moderate—passionate married kisses, tribal men in loincloths, classic nude statues, shirtless men, nude Tarzan meets Jane (not graphic), married couple in bed

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Legend of Tarzan, only that it wasn’t going to be like the Disney cartoon I grew up watching… I actually loved the movie and the graphics were pretty good! I also love the storyline (I’ve heard it relates more closely with the book series). If I remember correctly, the language was minimal (I’m just remembering off the top of my head here): two h***, one son of a b***, and the Lord’s name may have been taken in vain once or twice. It wasn’t bad, and most of the time they flew over my head because everything was moving so fast.

As far as sexual content goes, it was more than I expected, but wasn’t drastic; John (Tarzan) obviously has his shirt off for most of the film, but there is a scene where we see him crouch in the shadows as he holds his dying “mother” and is not clothed. The scene overall is dark, and the gorilla covers most of his body, so you mostly see the side of his leg and hip (the scene is fast). In scenes after this, he is covered with a cloth (in his “pre civilized” flash backs, that is). When Tarzan first meets Jane, it’s clear that she notices he’s naked (dduh, right)… as he approaches her, he starts smelling her hair and face “out of curiosity,” but continues on down a little too low for anyone’s taste. Jane yells in protest and that’s that for that scene. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
Stephanie, age 19 (USA)
Positive—We watched this movie with our teenagers and enjoyed it. Good story; Good animation. Generally a pretty clean movie. As the reviewer mentioned, some of the conversation (from SLJ and the character that played Jane) seems a little too current. But, overall, we really enjoyed the movie and would recommend it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
Ross Lenhardt, age 49 (USA)
Positive—This was better then I expected. I am sure it might seem slow for some, because there was talking going on sometimes and him not being in the jungle, might not be something younger kids would enjoy as much because of this. I thought it was a neat contrast, instead of him being in the trees all the time. It was a little odd seeing Tarzan all professional, but it was an interesting twist. We almost didn’t watch it because we didn’t know if he was going to be running around with his shirt off the whole time, but he didn’t really, until the end. I also liked how they had Tarzan and Jane married. There were lots of scenes with action, but the whole movie wasn’t action.

Overall, I enjoyed it. It was cool, too, his relationship with the animals and how they incorporated that, as well. There was a scene where the married couple were intimate, we just fast forward past those. There is definitely violence in this movie, but no more then would be with this type of movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Stephanie, age 42 (USA)
Positive—I thought this movie was okay. It was somewhat different from what I expected. At first, I didn’t really want to go see it in theaters, to be honest. I wouldn’t recommend taking really young ones to it, because they might get scared. Some parts were really intense.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
Lydia, age 25 (USA)
Positive—I just saw this film recently, and, movie wise, it was good, not too bad. I have it on DVD, and I like the whole double lifestyle of John. It has great visuals, and great sound. Sins are condemned, as they should be, in the film, and it is a very positive, very moral film. There are some concerning scenes, but I do recommend it. I like disaster stuff, so I liked the scenes in the end. God Bless, John 3:16, Jesus Saves!! TARZAN YELL!! I need to see some of the other films, especially the original lol!!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
Stephen Jacewicz, age 21 (USA)
Negative—I was so attracted to see this movie after watching the trailer. Having no deep knowledge of movie directors and producers, after watching the movie I realized that both Legends of Tarzan and Harry Potter have come from the same hands!!! And felt sad after hearing the dialogue “there is no evil spirit…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
Mary Juliet, age 36 (United Arab Emirates)
Negative—The movie seemed more focused on the bimbo, terrible actress, than anything about Tarzan. I couldn’t finish watching, it was a real snoozer. Edgar Rice Burroughs is sobbing in heaven.
Gloria Ames, age 63 (USA)
Negative—Lazy script and production. Borrowed themes from “Lord of the Rings” (traveling vistas), “Planet of the Apes” (good apes vs. Bad apes), and “Spider-Man” (Tarzan swinging on vines just as Spider-Man swings on his web ropes down alleys). Nothing spectacular about this predictable script (which I think is quite different from the original Tarzan story). I lowered my original rating from Neutral to Negative due to a totally unnecessary and vulgar dialog, though brief, used ½ way through the movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
Chris, age 56 (USA)
Comments from young people
Negative—Okay… where do I even start with this movie… first off… I love the old Disney cartoon Tarzan movie… I remember especially loving the music. When I heard they were making a live action Tarzan I will admit, I was pretty excited… being able to watch a beloved Disney character come to life on the big screen is definitely a treat! I went and saw it with my best friend, and we both were so excited about it… when the film started, we were both automatically confused… we didn’t know where the writers were going with the story… I hated how they went to his life in London right away and gave us SMALL flashbacks of when he was a child… I HATED THAT!!

If you didn’t see the cartoon when you were a kid… you would be so lost. They didn’t take any time into building his character development. The shots of when he was a kid were small and brief… and I was especially disappointed with how they wrote the scene where Tarzan meets Jane… it was just awful, and that leads me to my next point… See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 1½
Meaghan, age 17 (USA)
Movie Critics
…revisionist, anachronistic, weird and beautiful… Sections of this film are so imaginative, and so lovely, that they deserve our open-heartedness, not our scorn…
Stephanie Zacharek, Time magazine
“The Legend of Tarzan” offers brawn over brains, making for a questionable return to the jungle… the film’s main source of suspense is watching it twist and contort a century-old property into something meaningful. … [2/4]
Jake Coyle, Associated Press
…relatively lifeless incarnation… ponderous attempt to turn Tarzan into a 21st-century superhero… the visual effects are astonishingly subpar…
Peter Debruge, Variety
…withers on the vine… a plodding, incoherent mess starring Skarsgard and his abs, which look more real than any of his CGI jungle companions. … [1/4]
Sara Stewart, New York Post
…a big budget fiasco… “The Legend of Tarzan” doles out big beats of action at regular intervals to keep you awake, like a drunkard clashing trashcan lids in an alley late at night. But your eyelids grow heavy anyway. … [1/4]
Rene Rodriguez, The Miami Herald
…more often fun than not… succeeds where other franchise revivals fail… [3½/5]
Christian Hamaker, Crosswalk
…has some issues, “The Legend of Tarzan” doesn’t have as many as it could’ve had. …may not be a great movie, but it is a serviceable one—one which will likely appeal to those who dig animals and see the charm in a world not so civilized. [3/5]
Paul Asay, Plugged In

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