The Culture Movies

In 'The Legend of Tarzan,' Alexander Skarsgård looks at home in the jungle

'Tarzan' stars Alexander Skarsgård as the title character and Margot Robbie as his wife, Jane. Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz co-star.

'The Legend of Tarzan' stars Alexander Skarsgård (l.) and Samuel L. Jackson (r.).
Jonathan Olley/Warner Bros. Entertainment/AP
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( PG-13 )
  • Peter Rainer
    Film critic

“The Legend of Tarzan,” directed by David Yates, who is fresh from the “Harry Potter” franchise, doesn’t go in for a lot of “Me Tarzan, you Jane” stuff. No, this is a socially conscious Tarzan movie.

Alexander Skarsgård plays Tarzan – or to be more exact, John Clayton III, fifth Earl of Greystoke and a member of the House of Lords. He is sent as an emissary by Belgium’s King Leopold, the Voldemort of this piece, to the Congo, supposedly to oversee the king’s many charitable works. In actuality, Tarzan is set up to be captured in a scheme that will reap Belgium a fortune in diamonds.

Greystoke/Tarzan reluctantly takes his wife, Jane (Margot Robbie), back to Africa with him. (It's been almost a decade since they both left.) She wants to go; after all, she grew up there, too. Lady-in-peril shenanigans soon ensue, courtesy of the king of Belgium’s envoy Leon, played by Christoph Waltz in that sneer-smirky style he has a patent on.

Skarsgård looks at home in the jungle, communing among the apes, the ostriches, and the crocs; Robbie seems as if she might be more at home on “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” Samuel L. Jackson plays an American soldier-turned-humanitarian who accompanies Tarzan and Jane to the Congo. He seems to be in the film mostly to provide some well-needed comic relief. Grade: C+ (Rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, some sensuality and brief rude dialogue.)

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