The Legend of Tarzan
#1
I don't think I've ever watched a Tarzan movie, and I have not read the original stories yet, but I saw the movie last week. I thought it was very well done. One of the nicest things about it is that it avoids being an "origin story" movie, and gives us the character background info that we need in flashbacks.

I think the cast is wonderful, it's not a group that I would have thought to pair up, but they work remarkably well together. It's performing solidly, but it was also an expensive movie at $180 million. I'd really like to see more, it was a nice change of pace from the other action adventure movies of late. From comments I've seen elsewhere, it sounds like people who have read the books find it's pretty faithful to the character, I saw one comment that it was the most faithful of any screen Tarzan to date.

Anyone here see it?
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#2
loved it. Best Tarzan portrayal in many years. First read Tarzan in 1962 and have seen several TV and movie adaptations. but none as good as this one. Casting was excellent, Cinematography was beautiful, Well plotted and well paced. I too like the brief flashbacks that kept the backstory to a minimum. As an interesting bit of trivia, Samuel L Jackson said in an interview that his character was based upon an actual historical person. Later Kind Folks --Paul
Frontiers of any type, physical or mental are but a challenge to our breed. Nothing can stop th questing of man, not even man. If we will it, not only the wonders of space, but the very stars are ours
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#3
Boomstick Wrote:I don't think I've ever watched a Tarzan movie, and I have not read the original stories yet, but I saw the movie last week. I thought it was very well done. One of the nicest things about it is that it avoids being an "origin story" movie, and gives us the character background info that we need in flashbacks.

From what I've read/seen, it's very faithful to the spirit of the earlier books in the series, where Lord Greystoke is completely civilized, and mainly is involved with imperialistic Europeans trying to plunder
Africa for personal gain, before the later books devolved into the "lost civilization of the week." :laugh: This time it's Crusaders... this time it's Romans... this time it's miniature warriors... this time it's cavemen....
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#4
Paul Goode Wrote:loved it. Best Tarzan portrayal in many years. First read Tarzan in 1962 and have seen several TV and movie adaptations. but none as good as this one. Casting was excellent, Cinematography was beautiful, Well plotted and well paced. I too like the brief flashbacks that kept the backstory to a minimum. As an interesting bit of trivia, Samuel L Jackson said in an interview that his character was based upon an actual historical person. Later Kind Folks --Paul
Happy to hear you liked it, too. I'll probably try to catch it again this week, as I'll be speaking with some people who were involved with the production next week at Comic Con.

August, you mentioned the novels. How far do the "good" ones go? The first three or four in the series?

Any of the previous screen efforts worth a look? I don't think I could sit through any where Tarzan was barely literate. Why did the portrayal of the character trend that way?
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#5
I think the illiterate ape man thing derived from most movies incorporating the origin story. And then it was an easy way to cover the fact that Olympic
swimming champ Johnny Weissmuller spoke with a heavy German accent.

The main problem was that virtually all of the movies were B-movies, so honestly none are very good from a cinematic sense. The mid-80's Greystoke directed
by the Chariots of Fire director is a decent movie, although again it's mainly origin, with Christoper Lambert's accent and lack of acting ability covered by the
backstory with the apes, plus his abs. :poke: I think the Casper van Dien version from the 90's had him speaking normally, as do the films from the late 50's and early 60's, including
Tarzan's Greatest Adventure, which has the young Sean Connery in a supporting role. As a little boy I loved Tarzan Goes to India and Tarzan's Three Challenges (where he goes to
Thailand) but I suspect they wouldn't hold up well except in a B-movie sense now.

There's a decent summary of the original books here, and the first four are the realistic ones. With the 5th, evil Europeans jeopardize the lost City of Opar,
ruled by hot priestesses and their Neanderthal-like male subjects. Huh :laugh: But I LOVE that novel, and the next 5 or 6 "lost city" novels, including Tarzan at the Earth's Core,
where he crosses over into the author's inner world Pellucidar series.
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#6
august Wrote:I think the illiterate ape man thing derived from most movies incorporating the origin story. And then it was an easy way to cover the fact that Olympic
swimming champ Johnny Weissmuller spoke with a heavy German accent.

I looked it up, he did a TON of Tarzan movies. I'm guessing those wouldn't interest me as much, but I'd like to check out some of the later stuff. There are several cheap collections of the early novels available as well. Not to mention a gaggle of digital options, since the books are public domain.
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#7
august Wrote:I think the illiterate ape man thing derived from most movies incorporating the origin story. And then it was an easy way to cover the fact that Olympic
swimming champ Johnny Weissmuller spoke with a heavy German accent.

[snip]

There's a decent summary of the original books here, and the first four are the realistic ones. With the 5th, evil Europeans jeopardize the lost City of Opar,
ruled by hot priestesses and their Neanderthal-like male subjects. Huh :laugh: But I LOVE that novel, and the next 5 or 6 "lost city" novels, including Tarzan at the Earth's Core,
where he crosses over into the author's inner world Pellucidar series.

It's been a _long_ time since I read Tarzan, but I vaguely recall that he wasn't illiterate because he learned to read on his own from his father's journals. I don't think he could speak English, though, which would fit in with Weissmuller not speaking either.

And I loved the Opar book, as well, except that I was always skeptical of a gene pool decaying to produce brutish ape-like men and hot-bodied goddess-like women. But what the heck, it was a fun read.
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#8
Boomstick Wrote:I looked it up, he did a TON of Tarzan movies. I'm guessing those wouldn't interest me as much, but I'd like to check out some of
the later stuff.

Oh yeah yeah yeah - Weissmuller was the main Tarzan on screen - it was a franchise, so it was like the Bond movies, with the same guy doing it for years. He was the Michael Phelps of his era,
a major Olympic swimming champ. When he got too old and heavy to convincingly play Tarzan, they created another b-movie series for him, "Jungle Jim," where he played a
middle-aged adventurer/safari dude, based on a comic strip. Interestingly, another Olympic champion athlete or the era, Buster Crabbe, also played Tarzan in a serial, before moving on to
Flash Gordon and other roles.

The later films are still B-movies, but at least they're in color, and many filmed on location. In one of those later two, I remember they do the deal where the hero is tied between two elephants going in oppostie directions, and he has to figure out how not
to be pulled apart.

Quote: There are several cheap collections of the early novels available as well.
Not to mention a gaggle of digital options, since the books are public domain.


The books, on the other hand, are excellent in my opinion, if you like pulp novels. Burroughs I have always felt was a vastly under-rated stylist.

rkomar Wrote:It's been a _long_ time since I read Tarzan, but I vaguely recall that he wasn't illiterate because he learned to read on his own from his father's journals. I don't think he could speak English, though, which would fit in with Weissmuller not speaking either.

Yeah, the deal was that he figured out how to read English, but I think the first language he spoke was French, because the wounded French (Belgian?) officer that he rescues teaches him
to speak it. That's reflected in the film Greystoke, and the officer is played by future Bilbo actor Ian Holm. I forget if that guy taught him English too, or what, but
by the end of the first book, he's a completely civilized British gentleman, speaking English without an accent.

Quote:And I loved the Opar book, as well, except that I was always skeptical of a gene pool decaying to produce brutish ape-like men and
hot-bodied goddess-like women. But what the heck, it was a fun read.

Go to any trailer park here in South Carolina and you'll see the same phenomenon. :laugh: :bounce: :crazy:
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#9
august Wrote:Go to any trailer park here in South Carolina and you'll see the same phenomenon. :laugh: :bounce: :crazy:

LOL! Well, it's certainly true about the stereotypes. Okay, maybe ERB wasn't so far out there after all. :lol:
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#10
august Wrote:The books, on the other hand, are excellent in my opinion, if you like pulp novels. Burroughs I have always felt was a vastly under-rated stylist.
I picked up a cheap volume of the first three novels at Barnes & Noble for $8, so I'm off and running with the literary Tarzan.
august Wrote:Go to any trailer park here in South Carolina and you'll see the same phenomenon. :laugh: :bounce: :crazy:
Yes! :laugh: Had a good laugh after reading that--one of those cases of "it's funny 'cause it's true!"

I saw the movie again this afternoon. My initial impression remains, it's really a very solid movie, as far as I can see. No significant faults are apparent to me. Given that action adventure blockbusters seem to be pushing a 2.5 hour run time more and more lately, I'm impressed that this one keeps it at 2 hours, but doesn't feel rushed or that anything's been cut. If anything, it's amazing how much we see. Especially with the apes. I can think of at least one scene where they could have been cut out, probably saving millions of dollars in the process. I get the sense the really wanted them in there to create the world, which is impressive. I'd imagine someone had to fight for it; I'm looking forward to the commentary tracks when it gets released on disc.

It's thoroughly modern--Jane is no damsel in distress, and the native Africans are portrayed as intelligent people, every bit equals to the main characters.
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#11
One of the big publicity items about the 80's movie was that Rick Baker did ultra-realistic ape make-up for actors, who I think were mimes and dancers who really got into the
whole ape-movement thing.

Another was that Andie McDowall, mainly known then as a super-model, got her first lead acting role... but was unable to lose her Gaffney, SC accent (see hot priestesses of Opar above :laugh: )
and was completely overdubbed in post-production by Glenn Close.

That's another thing I liked about Burroughs, that he had a lot of strong female characters, and even when Jane was to some extent a kidnapped damsel in distress... ok, about a dozen
times :poke: ... she still was very strong, brave, always plotting ways to escape, or mess up her captors' schemes.

And I must say, as a little boy in the segregated south in the 1960's, in my earliest years I met an an extremely limited number of African-Americans, and every one of them was some
type of servant or service industry person. :/ But when I learned how to read and began reading the Gold Key comics adaptations of the Tarzan novels, Tarzan's Waziri buddies were absolutely the
good guys, and that gave me an early exposure to the enlightenment and acceptance that it took the country much longer to approach.

Note: those Gold Key comics were superb, with awesome Russ Manning artwork.

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#12
august Wrote:That's another thing I liked about Burroughs, that he had a lot of strong female characters, and even when Jane was to some extent a kidnapped damsel in distress... ok, about a dozen
times :poke: ... she still was very strong, brave, always plotting ways to escape, or mess up her captors' schemes.

That more or less sums up how she is in the movie. I guess it was an accurate portrayal of the character, then!
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#13
According to Box Office Mojo, with the estimates for this weekend in, the film is currently sitting with $193,650,257 global box office take (the film had an estimated $180 million production budget). They place $103,050,257 (53.2%) of that as domestic, and $90,600,000 (46.8%) as foreign.

The film has yet to open in a few markets. It opens in China a couple days from now, on July 19th. I'd expect the Chinese market will really determine how enthusiastic they are about making another film. It's also been in the top 3 every weekend since release in the US, and had to contend with two animated films that have turned out to be juggernauts. In that regard, it's held its own admirably, and perception of success does seem to be a big factor these days, too.

I'm very interested to see how it does in China. I'm not sure what to expect. Will it have the same sort of appeal that Transformers, Fast & Furious, Marvel movies and Terminator had?
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#14
An update on how the movie's doing: currently it has $311,418,228 worldwide. The numbers from China are currently at $41 million. Certainly helpful, but not the kind of numbers we've seen with action movies with modern settings. At this point the movie may have broken even, or made a little profit, but I'm not sure anyone's going to be in a big rush to make a sequel. If they are, I'd imagine the budget will be heavily cut.
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#15
So I finally saw this movie, and yes - it's very faithful to the spirit of the first 5 or 6 books: - villainous Europeans, Jane in peril and off on her own with Tarzan searching for her but
still managing to hold her own (that's part of the plot of almost every book Burroughs ever wrote - trying to save the female lead, even though she's pretty touch on her own)
groups of "good" and "bad" natives, and a colorful supporting character to play off Tarzan. And yes I agree - the backstory works just fine in brief flashbacks, almost all of
which come from one of the books. And, just like Burroughs - who wasn't a trained writer, but who rather just was inspired by the style of Victorian authors he enjoyed
(Michael will dispute this, but I think Burroughs was just very fortunate to discover that he actually did have innate talent and was then able to develop his own
style) - there are some stretches that kind of drag, but you can't have non-stop gorilla fights for two hours. :laugh: I especially liked the way they didn't try to make
the apes look to intelligent, whereas Burroughs had them with their own language. I also liked how they acknowledged that pound for pound, fist for fist, there's no
way Tarzan could win a fight with a fully-grown gorilla. (Bashing his "brother" with a big stick shows exactly how he was able to thrive, and had it been a real fight
to the death, he'd have just used a knife.) They also implied this was a slightly different, more fierce (and possibly more intelligent) species of gorilla, one that conceivably
could be extinct now.

I also thought Samuel L. Jackson's toupee was about the most realistic I've ever seen! And a nice touch to acknowledge that American did the same to the
Indians as the Belgians were trying to do here. Interestingly, this film was set a little earlier than the Burroughs novels - Tarzan was theoretically born in 1889, which is about when this film
takes place.


Boy Alexander Skarsgard has really been hitting the gym to get in shape for this role! He's always been in great shape, but with a much leaner swimmer /runner type of body:


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#16
Johnny was born in what is now a part of Romania. His parents were German. They came to the U.S when he was only seven months old. The family settled in Pennsylvania where Johnny went to school. He didn't have a German accent...maybe Pennsylvanian...
Sitting quietly, doing nothing,
Spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.
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#17
august Wrote:So I finally saw this movie, and yes - it's very faithful to the spirit of the first 5 or 6 books: - villainous Europeans, Jane in peril and off on her own with Tarzan searching for her but
still managing to hold her own (that's part of the plot of almost every book Burroughs ever wrote - trying to save the female lead, even though she's pretty touch on her own)
groups of "good" and "bad" natives, and a colorful supporting character to play off Tarzan. And yes I agree - the backstory works just fine in brief flashbacks, almost all of
which come from one of the books. And, just like Burroughs - who wasn't a trained writer, but who rather just was inspired by the style of Victorian authors he enjoyed
(Michael will dispute this, but I think Burroughs was just very fortunate to discover that he actually did have innate talent and was then able to develop his own
style) - there are some stretches that kind of drag, but you can't have non-stop gorilla fights for two hours. :laugh: I especially liked the way they didn't try to make
the apes look to intelligent, whereas Burroughs had them with their own language. I also liked how they acknowledged that pound for pound, fist for fist, there's no
way Tarzan could win a fight with a fully-grown gorilla. (Bashing his "brother" with a big stick shows exactly how he was able to thrive, and had it been a real fight
to the death, he'd have just used a knife.) They also implied this was a slightly different, more fierce (and possibly more intelligent) species of gorilla, one that conceivably
could be extinct now.

I also thought Samuel L. Jackson's toupee was about the most realistic I've ever seen! And a nice touch to acknowledge that American did the same to the
Indians as the Belgians were trying to do here. Interestingly, this film was set a little earlier than the Burroughs novels - Tarzan was theoretically born in 1889, which is about when this film
takes place.


Boy Alexander Skarsgard has really been hitting the gym to get in shape for this role! He's always been in great shape, but with a much leaner swimmer /runner type of body:
I thought it was really well done. Unfortunately, where big budget movies are concerned, American audiences don't seem to care about anything other than superhero movies and Star Wars lately. Locally, the response to this by cinemas seems to be diversifying their offerings. The downside of this is that there's fewer show times for all the movies, and I end up going even less.
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#18
Yep, like a lot of things it seems to have done fine worldwide, but didn't broke even in the US.

And you're right - if a film doesn't have car crashes or explosions or laser beams, it needs to be animated to do well at the box office.
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#19
Good point, animated movies are the other driving force at the US box office.
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#20
That's the real irony - what you and I might think of as traditional "adventure" films would all probably work just fine in animated form.

The other interesting thing is that a movie can still be non-sci-fi, like, say, the Fast + Furious franchise, as long as it has car crashes and explosions.

A footnote to that: years and years ago I had the great pleasure and honor to meet and work with Delbert Mann, who was a big Hollywood director in the 50's and 60's, and
directed films like That Touch of Mink with Doris Day and Cary Grant, and Marty with Ernest Borgnine, for which he won the Oscar for Best Director. The connection was
that he started his career here in town as director of the local theatre, his first job after grad school, and then went on to NYC and later Hollywood to find fame and fortune.
But starting in the 70's, he began working mainly in TV, and as he was heading into semi-retirement in the late 80's, his friends here in town convinced him to come
back for a couple of weeks to direct a special production for the theatre, as a big fundraiser and PR event. Anyway, I asked him why he started
doing mainly TV movies, and he instantly said that he had "no interest in doing car crash movies." :laugh:
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