Tarzan (2013) – Review

Directed by Reinhard Klooss
Written by Reinhard Klooss, Jessica Postino
Starring Kellan Lutz, Spencer Locke, Trevor St John

Tarzan and Jane Porter face a mercenary army dispatched by the evil CEO of Greystoke Energies, a man who took over the company from Tarzan’s parents, after they died in a plane crash.

It is indeed a rare occasion for me to get to sit down with my children to watch something that could possibly serve as entertainment for all of us. Most of Disney’s work falls into this category, and their version of Tarzan in particular is a great example of this and we can be often heard quoting lines from that particular animated classic. So it was without too much trepidation that we gathered together on a Sunday afternoon in May to see what Reinhard Klooss would make of the famous story. This man brought us Animals United, after all.
If you’re failing to see the irony here, then let me spell it out for you. Animals United wasn’t at the top of the list when my family was handing out plaudits for creativity. In fact, it was nigh on impossible to get my kids to sit through it from beginning to end. Surely Tarzan, a story they are intimately and fondly familiar with, was beyond any damage that could be done to it. It would endure. Wouldn’t it?
Well, the first child lasted twenty minutes before becoming fidgity and disinterested, the second a full five minutes later. Before half an hour had elapsed, our numbers had halved from four to two. My eldest and I were unbowed, however, stubbornly refusing to give this the wide berth that it probably deserved.
Without doubt, children are the best critics. They do not have the capacity to understand the feelings of an unseen director, they simply want to be entertained. They watch movies with abandon and vote with their feet if they don’t like what they see. They may not have the ability to accurately expound us with their reasons for their disinterest, but they don’t need to. If they don’t care for something, and they are not made to carry on doing it, they will just stop. Bless the little cherubs. If only we could all be so unilateral.
And as if we needed another lesson that there is more to a movie than just pretty pictures, then here you go. Klooss’ Tarzan looks breathtakingly stunning. It’s Avatar, in fact. Well, almost. The stories are very similar, which is unusual given your (my) preconceptions about what I was going to see. I imagined the now traditional tale of a young boy that gets lost in the jungle, is raised by gorillas and then bumps into a bit of a hottie in the form of Jane and they inexplicably fall in love.Well, yes and no.
It seems that as the 2D Disneyfication shifts to a hyperreal 3D adventure, the ability to suspend our disbelief wanes somewhat. Rather than glorying in the lovely story, I was left in no uncertain terms, rather huffingly it should be said, that ‘this would never happen’ and that Tarzan would probably have either raped, killed or eaten (perhaps all of them) poor Jane the minute he laid eyes on her. It may simply have been because of the discernible quantum leap in the visuals that made me feel this way or it could have just been the wretched script that annoyed me so much that you just hoped something foul would happen, for no other reason than to satiate the need for retribution of having wasted a sunday afternoon watching this instead of spending it doing something more palatable, like mowing the lawn or visiting the in-laws, for example.

Suffice to say, Tarzan does look incredible. The attention to detail will put you in mind of the aformentioned Avatar, as will the all too familiar storyline with its ecological overtones and going above and beyond for the love of a good woman. The script is laughably amateurish at times, however, and will make any self-respecting screenwriter wince on several occasions. The voice acting is on par and cannot be held responsible for a leaping and jumping stab at editing that will cause any viewer actually paying attention to raise an eyebrow or two.

Ultimately, only fifty percent of the people that started watching this screening ended up still present by the end, which should tell its own story with regard to the quality of the project. Lovely to look at, but aside form this, Taran does not have a lot going for it.

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