The film does a nice job of peppering the Tarzan origin throughout the film, establishing the literal Legend of Tarzan. We get the stories before we get the man, as the Jungle Lord. It never strays too far from believable emotion and character, yet never loses sight of being a pulp adventure. The reviews I read seem to have more political agendas in mind than actually watching an adventure film. Burroughs, like most adventure writers of his era (and most writers, in general) has problems when viewed through the lens of history. His stories were racist at times, elitist at times; yet, he could write a darn good adventure yarn. That's what this film is; a darn good, old fashioned adventure yarn, featuring one of the greatest adventure heroes, ever.
The film isn't pure Burroughs; but, it gets the breakneck style of plotting down, as the story speeds along, from one set piece to another. These things were written for magazines and the idea was to keep the reader turning the page. The film captures that and keeps you anticipating what comes next. It withholds things enough to have you anticipating and cheering when they come. John Clayton enters Africa in European clothes, and soon encounters old friends. As he spends more time in Africa, he strips away more and more of the European accouterments. He withholds the famous Tarzan yell until late in the film, keeping you waiting for that moment. When we here it, we look at the villain and say, "Now you're really in for it!"
The film isn't perfect; Jane is still in need of rescue, though she puts up a decent fight. She's established as someone who is on par with Tarzan, who also loves Africa and can hold her own. Even Tarzan gets taken down pretty easily, early on. That happened in the books, too. He would get loose, though and woe betide the person who was at the receiving end of his wrath. The climax is a bit much; but, it's pulp and it's Tarzan. Tarzan isn't about subtlety.
Like another Burroughs property, John Carter, I think too many reviews were looking at this as something else, rather than what it was. It's an adventure movie, with a larger than life hero. It isn't history, it isn't a post-modern deconstruction. It's Tarzan!