Monday, July 4, 2016

Me Tarzan! You Watch!

I went to see Tarzan today (July 4) and was pleased with the movie.  To make a long story short, originality and good acting overcome some flaws in the plot and directing.  
     First of all, I was thrilled that this movie, directed by David Yates, contains mimimal flashbacks to the 1000-times-retold story of young Lord Greystoke's adoption by wild killer apes.   Previous movies felt obliged to waste at least half the movie retelling this wretched story.  But no, we catch up with Lord Greystoke, a bit bored with his life as an English Noble.  Time to revisit Africa and determine whether some white guys are up to no good there, as they usually are.

    There were some terrible flaws in the movie, however. Perhaps the most serious is that the movie drags to a climax rather than races to it.   The bad guy simply has no Plan B, C or D, so that when Tarzan succeeds in partially disrupting him, there is nothing to do but plod forward.

           Tarzan is exciting and has a different feel than past movies about the King of the Apes.  

     Tarzan is relatively weak in this movie.  Consider the following:
     1.  He can keep barely ahead of a 50 year old guy (played by 67 year old Samuel L. Jackson no less) when traversing the jungle at maximum speed.  He never gets more than a few minutes ahead.
     2.  He can can talk to animals and get them to do him small favors, but he apparently can not ride an elephant.  Dude!  Learn to ride!
    3.  He can barely punch out a 50 year old bad guy, but tends to lose when fighting a gorilla or a more youthful Englishman. 

    Other gripes I have include the following:

     a.  The Congo instead of being a million square miles as it is in real life, appears to be about the size of Cleveland, so that Tarzan can walk from one end to the other in a few days. 
    b.  Jane is spunkier and prettier than, say, any version of Lois Lane we have ever seen, but at the end of the day she just gets in trouble too much and is rather helpless.  That needs to be fixed. 
     c.  The movie flips back and forth between the present and various flashbacks.  It's sometimes hard to figure out where we are.

     I did like the idea that when Tarzan gets very very mad, he and his animal friends can really mess people up.  In previous Tarzan movies, Tarzan is kind of like a head of a biker gang with a few apelike followers.  This Tarzan is ultimately able to get a lot of animals to work together, which is kind of a cool idea.   Bad guys should have to work things out with an entire jungle that is mad at them, like 100,000 or so animals.  There are plenty of white guys doing bad things in Africa.  Let's throw a few more to the beasts next time, shall we?   
    I am sure there will be a sequel, and in the meantime I would like both Tarzan and Jane to do push-ups and the like so they can be more effective in action scenes.  They should also study herbology in order to be able to recover from wounds and the like.  Jane needs to get a job, perhaps become a doctor, rather than continuing as a professional damsel in distress.

     And what about elephants?  They are the equivalent of tanks in the jungle.  Let's use elephants a whole lot more next movie.  

     The bad guy needs to have a better plan than to set up a confrontation and stall till the end of the movie.  No, he should score some points and do many things to annoy Tarzan, not just one or two.  

     James Bond and Goldfinger pioneered the idea that British bad guys like to engage their captives in witty conversation, trusting them to not try to escape (what a shock that Bond tricks him).  But that only worked for Bond and Goldfinger.  Let's get rid of that campy idea altogether, shall we?  Pip, pip! 
    I will be rooting for the animals, just like Jurassic Park, where the people deserve to be eaten.  This movie showed how Tarzan can lead the animals, next time perhaps he will actually do a better job of it.  In the meantime, this movies is fun, interesting and has great scenes from the Congo, so it is worth watching.    

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