REVIEW: TARZAN 3D / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: REINHARD KLOOSS / SCREENPLAY: REINHARD KLOOSS, YONNI BRENNER, JESSICA POSTIGO / STARRING: KELLAN LUTZ, SPENCER LOCKE, JAIME RAY NEWMAN, ROBERT CAPRON, JOE CAPPELLETTI / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Edgar Rice Burroughs’ 1914 novel Tarzan of the Apes has left an everlasting legacy. Be it the pages of books, the airwaves of radio or (most notably) film, Tarzan (now quite sprightly for 100 years of age) has swung on many vines in his time. There have been over 60 films chronicling his adventures in the equatorial African jungle, from the early Elmer Lincoln silent films, to the Johnny Weissmuller movie series to Disney’s popular 1999 animated film Tarzan (which this new film will most likely be compared to). Sadly, this new motion-captured animated outing is one adaptation that mystifies more than it entertains.
When our loincloth-clad hero says, “Let's start at the beginning”, he isn’t kidding. Say what you will but we’d wager nobody expected a Tarzan film to open with a meteor in space and a dinosaur-populated earth. It is from this early point that you realise you are in for a very different adaptation; sadly it is not a very good one. Although we still get the “me Tarzan, you Jane” bit, this strange, German-made, 3D version of the epic adventure owes more to Avatar than it does Burroughs and not in a good way. The film sees wild man Tarzan (Lutz) meet Jane (Locke) and the two must fend off the mercenary forces of greedy Greystoke industries CEO William Clayton (Cappelletti) in a story revolving around an unobtanium-like unlimited energy source.
Tarzan 3D is an odd attempt at modernising this classic story and while there are a few sterling battles, this is mostly a rather misguided affair. The animation occasionally hits the right visual notes (the jungle and creatures are appealingly vibrant) but the motion-capture is more Mars Needs Moms than Secret of the Unicorn. The characters' faces rarely betray much feeling and when they do, they're scarily rodent-like (young Tarzan especially). Burroughs once wrote, “smiles are the foundation of beauty”; here it seems that Tarzan and many other characters often have the emotional range of a potato, smiles or not. Tarzan 3D should be a thrill but the 3D is badly rendered and gives no real sense of depth and the actual animation itself is hugely flawed, much like the noble but utterly pointless attempts to update this story.
Tarzan and Jane’s chemistry is not as beautiful as it has been before and by going in with Disney’s fondly remembered version fresh in memory, you really are in for disappointment. The environmental message and jungle-swinging action may entertain some kids and at just over 90 minutes, Klooss’ film does not stay long enough to bore viewers completely rigid, but that's not enough to compete in today's competitive market. Tarzan 3D is a film that feels like an early experiment with some of its advanced computer technology and not like a 2014 animated picture. He bad Tarzan, it shame.
Expected Rating: 6 out of 10