Now I'm a Tarzan Superfan so some of the problems I had with this film may not bother you at all, so with this review I will try and remain as objective as possible, but I will focus on many of the departures from the source material, so consider yourself forewarned.
The movie opens with the villainous Léon Rom (Christoph Waltz) leading a group of mercenaries to the mysterious city of Opar. Turns out that Belgium’s King Leopold II has been taking control of the African Congo and is attempting to exploit its rich resources. Unfortunately he’s kind of run low on funds for his operating costs so King Leopold has sent Rom to acquire the diamonds that Opar is rumored to possess. As premises go that’s a pretty good one for a Tarzan movie, because of course Tarzan is going to hear about this, and when he discovers that Leopold has been enslaving most of the locals to get what he needs you can guarantee that there will be some jungle asswhooping in the future.
"But no asswhooping until I've had my tea."We do eventually get some of that asswhooping but it takes a really long time for that to happen. David Yates kind of falls into the same trap that director Hugh Hudson had with Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, and that is taking what is basically a pulp adventure story and then removing the high adventure and replacing it with talky-drama. When the Lost City of Opar was mentioned I became excited, but when all we got to see of it was a CGI rock quarry that made the Doctor Who locations look impressive I began to worry. In the books Opar was a lost outpost of Atlantis, ruled by a gorgeous high priestess and populated by half-man/half ape warriors and priests, but in this movie it’s just a tribe of local natives that look like extras from the Bo Derek Tarzan of the Apes movie.Why name drop a key lost city from the books and then not bother to actually go there? Even the shitty Casper Van Dien Tarzan and the Lost City had the decency to at least give us a crappy CGI temple to visit.
Anyway, on with the plot. Seems that Chief Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou) really wants Tarzan dead and so he offers to give Rom the diamonds he needs if he can deliver the Ape Man to him, who is currently living the high life in London with Jane. Rom comes up with the clever ruse of asking the British government to send Lord Greystoke aka Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) on a goodwill tour of the Congo, and this leads to my next and biggest caveat; in this movie Tarzan is reluctant to return to Africa. Since when is Tarzan not a fan of Africa? We actually get dialog between Jane (Margot Robbie), who is all for returning to the place she considers home, that suggests that Tarzan doesn’t want to return to Africa because of the bad blood between him and Chief Mbonga.