Gregory Wakeman at Cinemablend has come out with a lengthy, thorough look at Legend of Tarzan. It’s got a nice video piece — and accompany text. Here’s the video.
So what’s new in this? Not a whole lot for those of us who’ve been following it closely, but getting new information into our skulls is only part of the fun of an article like this. What’s more fun is that this could be construed as the article that gets in the first punch in the runup to the release of the movie. Cinemablend is a one of the more widely viewed “influencer” sites — so what is their pitch?
First of all, keep in mind that at the equivalent time in the John Carter marketing debacle, Cinemablend was saying the trailer seemed to be “all about spectacle” and then there was the name change from John Carter of Mars to John Carter, which they rated “confounding” and “one can hope they come to their senses and change it back.” And these were comments coming from movie writers who were inclined to be friendly toward the film. But when they sense that there s some kind of overriding doltishness being expressed …. they turn on the film and although Cinemablend didn’t completely turn on John Carter, (and there is more than one voice there) . . . . the tone was dubious when they started writing about it.
So what do we have here?
Let’s see what kind of themes are present that we’re likely to see again:
Theme 1: It looked like Doom and Disarray prior to the trailer coming out . . . . .
The Obligatory nod to the Kim Masters Hollywood Reporter “Tarzan is in disarray” article. (Actually Wakeman previously swallowed that one whole, writing “Tarzan is a 180 M Mess“.)Unfortunately, this misstep has emblazoned on the consciousness of everyone who writes about upcoming movies, and is recited as gospel. At the time, it led in the direction of “Legend of Tarzan will be a Pan-sized flop”. So, is that where Wakeman is going by starting out with referencing this? Fortunately not. Here’s how he treats it:
Obviously, the studio has rather high hopes for The Legend Of Tarzan as they’re releasing it in the height of the summer blockbuster season. They’re hedging their bets that it will be able to swing from vine to vine for several weeks and not only amass a healthy box office return, but will also kick start a brand-new franchise that will prove to be very, very lucrative.
All of that was thrown into a bit of chaos just a couple of months ago when rumorsemerged that Warner Bros. wasn’t completely happy with what The Legend Of Tarzan’s production had left them with. This issue wasn’t helped by the revelation that director David Yates had moved onto Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them just after The Legend Of Tarzan’s post-production had begun.
Theme 2: …..but the Trailer is Epic and Has Turned the Buzz Around
This is what all fans of ERB and the film are hoping to hear, and it’s there:
But all of these problems dissipated with the release of the stunning first trailer forThe Legend Of Tarzan, which suggested that the blockbuster will be a moody, thrilling, and action-packed waltz through the jungle and a modern examination of the titular character and his doting wife Jane.
That, in a nutshell, is the guts of it — looked like a flop, trailer turned it around.
The article then goes on to summarize the story, using the standard materials from WB to do so. I tried to see if there is anything new but couldn’t find anything I hadn’t heard before. A theme emerges, though:
Theme 3: This Tarzan isn’t the origins story all over again …. it’s something different.
This is welcome and it’s clear WB is trying to stay on this message with.
Rather than starting at the origins of Tarzan in the jungle and working forward in a linear fashion, writers Adam Cozad & Craig Brewer and director David Yates have decided to begin The Legend Of Tarzan with Alexander Skarsgård’s titular character as John Clayton III, Lord Greystoke. In fact, according to the synopsis for The Legend Of Tarzan, it has been years since Lord Greystoke lived in the jungles of Africa. Instead, he has since become gentrified and he now has a nice, casual life alongside his wife Jane Porter (Margot Robbie) in England.
And then this is upported with the Yates quote we’ll hear again and again: ‘This is about a man who’s holding back and slowly as you peel off layers, he reverts back to a more animalistic state and lets that side of his personality out.”
Theme 4: Watch for Margot Robbie to Merge Old School Hollywood Glamour with New School Toughness in Jane
This is the first time I’ve seen precisely the formulation that Robbie has the old-school Hollywood glamour thing going on (and she surely, surely does) and will merge this with modern toughness. I like that concept, and it’s a theme that I think will play well. Here’s how it’s presented:
In fact, a merging of her old-school glamour and beauty, with a modern toughness and complexity that was previously missing from Jane, is perfectly suited to both the character and The Legend Of Tarzan.
Theme 5: Samuel Jackson isn’t just playing around — he’s playing a historical black character of great weight and significance
Now this one is new and the presenttion of it is pretty thorough. Coming on the heels of #oscarssowhite and knowing that Tarzan is going to draw some fire no matter what for embedded imperialism — this bit is a theme we will hopefully see more and more of because it really helps:
In The Legend Of Tarzan Samuel L. Jackson plays George Washington Williams, the pioneering American Civil War veteran, politician, minister, lawyer and journalist who repeatedly broke ground in African-American history. George Washington Williams visited Congo shortly before his death, where he helped to spur an outcry over the treatment of people in the country. It will be exciting to see what Samuel L. Jackson can do with such an influential figure, especially since this is the first time that George Washington Williams has ever actually appeared on screen.
Theme 5: Leon Rom is the historical figure who gave us Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now’s Kurtz
Rom sounds like a downright despicable individual, as not only has it been speculated that he was the main inspiration for Kurtz in Joseph Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness, which was later turned into Apocalypse Now, but he allegedly used to keep severed heads of Africans in his flower bed, and even murdered individuals for the smallest of offenses. Having portrayed the SS-leader Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds and Blofeld in Spectre, Christoph Waltz is quite adept at portraying wicked individuals. But this might just be his most detestable yet.
Anyway — there’s more, but that’s enough for now.