The film is set in the late 19th century, when King Leopold of Belgium had control of the Congo and extracted its ivory, rubber, and valuable minerals to be sold across the world. This ‘Congo Free State’ is described as one of the greatest international scandals from that time as King Leopold became infamous for his atrocious mistreatment of the indigenous people, which included punishment by death if rubber collection quotas were not met.
The main story of the film involves John Clayton, or Tarzan as he is better known, and his wife Jane returning to the Congo ten years after Tarzan left for England. However, Jane finds herself held captive by one of King Leopold’s captains Léon Rom as he lures Tarzan to tribal leader Mbonga who wants revenge on Tarzan for killing his son. As always money is a driving force in this villains plans, as Mbonga will give Rom a tonne of diamonds in return so that King Leopold can fund his army.
Skarsgård is ripped. Like make-me-feel-bad-for-eating-a-piece-of-cake ripped.
Set after Tarzan has returned to civilisation, this film sort of operates as a sequel to the Disney Tarzan story we all love, despite having no ties to the Disney franchise. The flashbacks of Tarzan’s parents in the jungle and meeting Jane for the first time were a neat addition; allowing the film to work on a two-in-one concept; before and after Tarzan left the jungle.
Swedish actor Alexander Skarsgård and makes a spectacular Tarzan, but perhaps only physically. I mean, this man is ripped- like make-me-feel-bad-for-eating-a-piece-of-cake ripped. Raised by apes until adulthood, you don’t expect him to say much and he doesn’t. This lack of speech means that Skarsgård has to do a lot of acting with his body, and that he does; all 6 feet and 3 inches of himself, adding to Tarzan’s imposing and threatening appearance when it comes to protecting his wife.
Samuel L. Jackson also stars as George Washington Williams, a soldier who fought in the American Civil War wanting to find expose King Leopold’s treatment of the Congolese people. Fun fact: George W.W. was a real man who instigated the first public outcry against King Leopold’s regime in the Congo. Jackson features as Tarzan’s sidekick of sorts and a figure of comic relief.
Fun Fact #2: the film’s big bad, Léon Rom, who is played by brilliant actor Christoph Waltz, was also a real person. He was a Belgian soldier involved in the administration and management of the Congo Free State. As always, Waltz is phenomenal in his portrayal of this character albeit being quite similar to his other characters, such as Blofeld from Spectre. Waltz always plays his characters with such depth and emotion that I was disappointed to see him perish at the end of the film. Despite him being a baddie.
An exciting yet simple film with an equally simple plot.
In a nutshell, his film is about a man going beyond the impossible to save the woman he loves including fighting giant apes and running across half a country. Talk about relationship goals. I also appreciate that it features a sub-story of King Leopold’s treatment of the Congolese people and the history of the Congo because I had no idea that had even happened. But that might have just been me being ignorant.
The Legend of Tarzan is an exciting yet simple film with an equally simple plot. It doesn’t feature massive plot twists or huge character developments. It is simply an action adventure film which makes for an easy watch while you consume your bodyweight in popcorn.