Tarzan (2014)

Tarzan (2014)

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"Jane, meet my mother."
“Jane, meet my mother.”

Twitter Plot Summary: The Tarzan story gets a science fiction twist as he fights to protect his jungle and a powerful meteorite.

Five Point Summary:

1. Tarzan’s loincloth always remains in a discrete position. Always.
2. The fur on those monkeys looks very nice.
3. Rain also looks very nice. The humans, not so much.
4. Soldiers hired by evil conglomerates can often be defeated by 3 juvenile gorillas and have terrible security measures.
5. Big meteorites are able to hide in the jungle.

Whoever thought turning Tarzan into a science fiction infused story needs their head examined. In 2014’s Tarzan, we’re one small step away from the King of the Jungle jumping into a spaceship and exploring the galaxy. Thankfully it never comes to that, but it really is so close to doing so that you expect aliens to step in at any moment and demand their hunk of space rock back. Other than the standard “Me Tarzan, you Jane” story that we all know, this interpretation adds a giant meteorite that holds enough power to fuel society for decades, and the evil machinations of Greystoke Industries which are under the control of the slightly sinister guy who is now running the place after the death/loss of the much more pleasant Greystoke family during a jungle expedition. It is here that young “JJ”, as Tarzan was once known, finds himself in the hands of a desolate female gorilla, and the rest is history. Told in montage form, of course.

The list of problems is multitude. Other than the fact it’s all a bit too science fiction for a Tarzan tale, the voice acting lacks oomph and is mostly uninspired. Other than Kellan Lutz, who is best known for his work in the Twilight franchise, the remainder of the cast are mostly lesser known actors, which in a way is nice because that way you don’t spend half the film trying to guess who the voice actor is. On the other hand, it comes back to that point about being uninspired, so a game of “spot the celebrity” would have likely helped matters.

Something doesn't look right about this picture...
Something doesn’t look right about this picture…

It’s also a tad too dark for younger audiences, the recurring theme of death and violence keeps rearing its ugly head, in particular amongst the gorilla community storyline. Most of the narrative threads are tied up by the finale, but it feels a bit rushed when the big resolution takes place. There’s also very little definition to anybody other than Tarzan and Jane’s characters, but then that is to be half expected.

The animation at least looks superb, with the jungle and the animals living there well modelled against their real world counterparts. On a slightly more concerning note is the uncanny valley effect that the humans have on the audience. The human characters look almost – but not quite – real, to the point where it can be difficult to take them seriously. If they had been animated in a slightly more cartoonish style then there would be less of an issue.

It’s all a bit too much like Avatar to stand on its own merits, and narratively it’s so inconsistent that it often feels like half the story was cut out and the joins not pasted over. It comes to something when you feel that the best villain is the evil silverback gorilla, but at least he had a bit of chutzpah when compared to the humans. Maybe he should become the new head of Greystoke Industries? Now there’s a fun idea for a sequel…

Score: 2/5

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  1. […] This is a shame because the animation is superb, a mixture of traditional 2D and the newer 3D animation style that would soon come to dominate the animated industry. The character designs are good, however despite being set in the 19th century Tarzan, thanks to his funky hair style, has the air of having recently completed a stint as a member of a boy band. Mention must also be made of Tarzan’s method of traversing down trees, which owes more than its fair share of debt to Tony Hawks’ skateboarding antics than the old way of just swinging through the forest on conveniently placed vines. It both modernises the character yet keeps him well within the Victorian era in which he exists – a tricky balancing act to say the least. Tarzan feels like Disney getting stuck in a rut, barely refining their formula and not providing as engaging a tale as it perhaps ought to have been. However you look at it, it’s still better than the dead eyed stare of the 2014 animated Tarzan film. […]

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