Tarzan swings back onto the big screen this weekend, but so far, critics seem to wish the literary icon would have stayed in the jungle.
Of the 20 reviews available on Rotten Tomatoes on Wednesday morning, only 4 were declared “fresh,” while 16 “rotten” reviews ripped the Warner Bros. release. “A big disappointment” and “boring” were two unflattering adjectives used to describe director David Yates‘ new adventure film starring Alexander Skarsgard, Margot Robbie and Christoph Waltz.
“There’s never a moment in this new film that comes off like anyone involved was driven or aching to put a new spin on Tarzan,” TheWrap’s film critic Alonso Duralde wrote in his review. “If marketing-based decisions didn’t sometimes lead to entertaining movies, Hollywood would be a ghost town, but here we have talented people on both sides of the camera still creating a movie that’s painfully rote.”
The film is opening this Friday and is expected to surpass $30 million over the four-day holiday weekend, although its production budget was around $180 million.
Read 7 more of the worst reviews below.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire:
“There’s a whiff of desperation about pulling a literary figure like Tarzan down from the tree line and forcing him to live at our level — it’s why you’ve been laughing at the marketing of this film for months. And now the finished product is finally here, and it earns the worst of your preconceptions, reintroducing Edgar Rice Burroughs’ immortal character as just another overpriced commodity.”
Roger Moore, Movie Nation:
“The result is a ‘Legend’ that feels inoffensively modern, or at least less offensive than it could have been. It’s too violent to be the kids’ movie it wants to be. And it isn’t up to the challenge of giving adult audiences something meatier to chew on, despite the novel Belgian Congo genocide backdrop. You can’t make a bold statement or exciting action picture when every frame is filled with fear — of offending someone, of upsetting animal rights activists, of giving the audience a Tarzan they won’t recognize, of failure.”
Jordan Hoffman, Guardian:
“Tone-deafness aside, the film has plenty of troubles. For starters, it doesn’t look good. Most of the scenes with computer-generated animals (lions, elephants and especially gorillas) are in the rain or dark or some sort of mist. Instead of inspiring awe, it led me to take off my glasses and check they weren’t smudged. I don’t know if the recent Jungle Book‘s computer whizzes had greater processing power, more time to render their shots or simply more dough, but the difference between the two films is extraordinary … The best way to do a Tarzan film in 2016? Find a new story to tell instead.”
Stephen Witty, Newark Star Ledger:
“The script seems to be working hard to keep us interested, but the irony is that all the leaping around only ends up being a bore. You never get a chance to feel a stake in in either narrative, while other touches – a hint of religious mania in the villain – go unexplored. Nor are the lead actors much help. As Tarzan, Alexander Skarsgard has a torso that looks like it was sculpted out of marble; too bad his performance is just as stony, even when embracing Margot Robbie‘s Jane. (This is the kind of movie that manages to get him half-naked, her soaking wet, and still fail to create any erotic tension.)”
Matt Singer, Screen Crush:
“In general though, ‘The Legend of Tarzan’ is too boring to be truly offensive. In spite of some impressive hand and brow acting, Skarsgard’s Tarzan is a frustrating blank and Margot Robbie‘s Jane is a simple damsel in distress (despite her insistence that she doesn’t need rescuing, Tarzan spends the second half of the movie on a quest to rescue her). Some of the panoramic African vistas look lovely on the big screen, but the CGI jungle creatures Tarzan and George encounter look a lot less impressive after this year’s ‘The Jungle Book’ remake, and Waltz’s villain schtick feels as tired as the idea of yet another white dude coming to Africa’s rescue.”
Joanna Langfield, The Movie Minute:
“The most intriguing part of this legend is wondering just who the heck this movie is supposed to appeal to … Director David Yates delivered a perfect mix of mass consumption magic with the Harry Potter films, but he’s all off here. The one time I was actually swept up in this not so legendary Tarzan came near the end, when a stampede kicks off. That, too, doesn’t last very long. But it’s one of the few moments where I wanted more.”
Chris Hewitt, Empire Online:
“Not so much a ripping yarn, more of a dripping yarn, Yates’ reinterpretation of the Lord Of The Jungle is a big disappointment. It may be some time before Tarzan swings again.”