The Legend of Tarzan

The Legend of Tarzan nearly functions as a sequel of sorts, picking up where most other Tarzan movies leave off. It’s 1890 and the man formerly known as Tarzan, John Clayton III the Earl of Greystoke, and his beautiful wife Jane are happily married and living as aristocrats in England.

This particular Tarzan story is set against the historical and political backdrop of the European colonization of the African territories in the late 1880s. The continent of Africa is up for grabs, and the race to plunder its precious resources and reap the benefits of the booming slave trade has shifted into high gear. King Leopold II of Belgium is pressing his ravenous interests into the African Congo but is encountering powerful resistance from the indigenous population. tribal chief with a vendetta against Tarzan for the death of his only son strikes a deal with the Belgians: Deliver Tarzan, and be granted full access to the Congo. And so Tarzan must return to his native homeland to free hordes of natives from brutal slavery and rescue his beloved Jane from a ruthless and ambitious capitalist.

For all its efforts to achieve period and cultural authenticity, the point is ultimately rendered moot because of the film’s total dependency on fabricated imagery. CGI effects are to be expected, and the controlled environment of a London studio has its benefits, but the fact that not one frame of this film is shot on location in Africa severely undercuts its believability. And with all this rampant digital manipulation, the 4K Ultra HD picture further polarizes the issue to perpetuate a thoroughly uninvolving movie. Computer-generated jungle animals and green-screen backgrounds are accentuated to a higher degree, and even though it continually distracts from the story, the textures and details are consistently crisp and vivid in spite of a predominant sepia tone.

The sound defers to a raucously engaging Dolby Atmos mix on both the 4K and standard Blu-ray versions. There is marvelous directionality from the surround speakers and a truly enveloping background ambience that features rampaging gorillas, attacking hippos, stampeding wildebeests, and a pulse-pounding score to back it all up. If you like sound you can feel, The Legend of Tarzan does not disappoint.

Extras are on the standard HD Blu-ray copy and consist solely of a string of production featurettes and a PSA on the continuing problem of ivory poachers in Africa. Digital Copy included.

Studio: Warner Bros., 2016
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio Format: Dolby Atmos
Length: 109 mins.
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: David Yates
Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson