The story of Tarzan of the Apes written by Edgar Rice Burroughs had been interpreted in many films since the 1930s. We all remember those classic films starring Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan as Tarzan and Jane. In the 1980s, there was an acclaimed film version starring Christopher Lambert and Andie McDowall as the legendary couple. In the 1990s, Disney gave us its own take on the story in its traditional 2D animation with a pop musical score by Phil Collins.
I was very surprised that this year, another version was being announced on ads. I saw the name of Kellan Lutz, and thought this was a live action film, starring this Twilight actor who just recently took on another classic film character Hercules. It turns out this was another animated production, but using motion capture technology.
This incarnation of Tarzan gives the new generation an updated origin story. There is a comet from outer space that unscrupulous power companies are fighting over as an unlimited energy source. Instead of the shipwreck, we have a helicopter crash this time. The young Greystoke here was already a talking toddler rather than a newborn baby.
The whole first hour was rather bland and boring. There was a lot of scenes which were dedicated to the romance between Tarzan and Jane. Only later when the villain character Clayton makes his appearance, it was only then that the action picked up.
But by then, we can see that this version of Tarzan was very much influenced by the film "Avatar" with its environmental message, the layout of an army of technology, down to the rocky peaks in the setting. A hilarious modern day reference was the presence of a worker who was dressed like Bob the Builder.
The quality of animation is not at all bad, to be honest. The story though had already been told so many times, and the modern upgrades were too incredible and too familiarly derivative to accept. This is not essential viewing, only when you have restless kids and nothing else to see at the mall. Only an hour and half long, it will be enough to keep their interest. But afterwards, they will probably still remember the Disney version more.
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