By MICHELLE MARCHANTE
“The Legend of Tarzan” swung into theaters just in time for the 4th of July holiday weekend, setting it up to be one of the biggest if not THE biggest blockbuster hit of the summer, but it didn’t quite happen. Like other childhood favorites that have recently returned to the big screen, Tarzan was thrown into a pot of shadows and mixed with the darker side of humanity, a darkness that traditional fans have trouble swallowing but the thing is, this “dark” Tarzan actually works.
Even though it lost opening night to “The Purge,” it went on to reclaim its title over the holiday weekend, bringing in $38.2M, losing only to Disney Pixar’s “Finding Dory” which topped the box-office for the third week in a row with a whopping $42.0M.
Most moviegoers will go into this movie expecting to see either:
A. The ever-favorite Disney animated classic of Tarzan being brought to life
B. A complete remake of one of famous American Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller’s Tarzan movies.
But will find themselves watching a jaded Tarzan with an equally more violent storyline.
Fifteen minutes into the movie, with Alexander Skarsgard playing a Tarzan that has completely separated himself from his wild roots, refusing to be known as anything but his actual birth name, John Clayton III or Lord Greystroke, and acting completely civilized is a big shock to fans of Tarzan’s original forever-wild characterization. Unlike other movie adaptations (including Disney’s animated film) where we find Tarzan struggling to fit into London’s society, we find a Tarzan that has completely embraced it and consistently rejects his wild heritage as if he wishes it never existed.
Tarzan’s almost hatred towards his past is saddening, giving the story a dark gloomy tune, making you want to just get up and leave, that is of course until they finally arrive at the Congo’s. Stepping foot onto the land he used to call home, Tarzan’s outer disposition completely changes and fans are finally introduced to the man Jane fell in love with: one who is completely at home in the wild and is almost like a spirit: fast, strong and able to communicate with the animals.
While the rest of the movie is still a disruptive dark view of the traditional Tarzan, with the capturing of villagers for the main antagonist Leon Rom (Played by Christoph Waltz) slave trade, the seesaw relationship Tarzan shares with the Mangani(a fictional species of apes) that goes from shared alliance to violent attacks, and the overlayering threat of Mbonga (Played by Djimon Hounsou) a chief of another wild tribe that wants Tarzan’s head, it’s filled to the brim with action-packed Tarzanesque scenes.
The film does have one plot hole though, the showdown between Tarzan and Mbonga, that fails to fully grasp the substance of what has been promised throughout the entirety of the film and leaves much to be desired but the rest of the film makes up for it.
Interestingly enough, one of the most enjoyable aspects of the film is the flashbacks of Tarzan’s childhood and how he and Jane met. Even though the film IS entertaining and proves that Tarzan is a tale that can be effectively darkened, it no doubt would have become number 1 in the box office if it had told a darker version of the familiar lovable storyline of how Tarzan and Jane met, rather than a completely new tale with flashbacks.
If The Legend of Tarzan continues to be able to stay in second place at the top box office and fans are able to recognize and accept that this isn’t your everyday average Tarzan but rather a completely different Tarzan, then perhaps we’ll be able to see the story of Tarzan and Jane because let’s face it: that’s the real goldmine here.
MICHELLE MARCHANTE is a guest contributor at The Buzz Insider and the Assistant Opinion Director at FIUSM. She is a writer, reader and filmmaking enthusiast. Currently, she is studying to get her degree in Broadcast Journalism and is also working on her second novel. Connect with her on Twitter @TweetMichelleM
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Image retrieved from Flickr.