The movie is about the life of Tarzan. Tarzan was a small orphan who was raised by an ape named Kala since he was a child. He believed that this was his family, but on an expedition Jane Porter is rescued by Tarzan. He then finds out that he's human. Now Tarzan must make the decision as to which family he should belong to... Written by
Animated Disney films always seem to be the same in hindsight. It's only when the directors get the inclination to try something bigger that the films achieve a legendary status. It's been ten years since this new Disney renaissance began with "The Little Mermaid", the new "Tarzan" represents exactly what is wrong and what is so very right with the Mouse House's approach to the animated features.
During these last ten years, the studio has learned what's worked, and what doesn't. Disney always plays it safe. The "Tarzan" opening is very similar to the mega-successful "The Lion King". They compress the entire backstory into a 10 minute opening, and it works like a charm. We all have to admit that Phil Collins hasn't done anything substantial in the last ten years as well, yet his songs for this new film are spot on. They narrate the film and guide the audience perfectly through this loose adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel. Having been weaned on poor character songs throughout the years, it's deliciously blasphemous to not have to sit through 5 or 6 god awful musical numbers that even the composers don't seem to like. It brings an unexpected freshness to this well-known material. With "Tarzan", Disney is taking on a character and story that has gone through countless adaptations. This animated approach seems to fit just right. By not having to rely on a physically impressive (but poorly expressive) actor, the animators have created the most believable Tarzan yet. He glides through the jungle with ease, dragging behind his the well worn knuckles of an ape-man. It's probably one of Disney's most impressive creations, even though it is one so renowned. Tony Goldwyn brings the voice of Tarzan to life with unexpected sweetness. While used sparingly, Goldwyn manages to capture the character with ease. I also enjoyed Minnie Driver's spunky voice for Jane, making her the most palatable animated heroine since Lady. Rosie O'Donnell is about as grating as you might suspect and Glenn Close is perfect as Tarzan's ape mother. It's the villain that Disney needs to work on. While watching "Tarzan" you can easily feel that the addition of the bad guy is superfluous. He's just there because the filmmakers think we can't go without it. They're dead wrong. The flick is filled with lush visuals (courtesy of the more prominent GCI work), grand music, and a strong story. We don't need forced conflict. The conflict within is what "Tarzan" is all about. The rogue brings the film down more than it should. Coming out of "Tarzan" I had feelings I haven't felt from a Disney production in some time. I was moved by the material, shockingly filled with emotion. I came out of the theater humming the music, not an easy thing in the years of "Mulan" and "Hunchback". I also came out impressed that Disney might be making baby steps to a new and brighter future of animated films. I look forward to it. ------------ 7
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