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The Legend of Tarzan is not as bad as one may expect, but it’s also not particularly good either, and that’s were the film suffers most. It’s a well-acted film and a thrilling adventure at times, but ultimately there’s something missing. However, the missing element is oneof  the film’s essential qualities, and that’s making the character of Tarzan interesting.

Tarzan (Alexander Sarsguard) is adjusting to normal life with his wife Jane (Margot Robbie). When the explorer George Williams (Samuel L. Jackson) tells him of a slavery operation taking place within the Congo, Tarzan returns to his home to save it from the ruthless trader Ron (Christoph Waltz).

Despite script issues, the performances are quite good. Sarsguard is compelling enough as Tarzan, Robbie is believable and gives the film much of its heart, Waltx hams it up as the villain, and Jackson gives by far the film’s best performance as an old war veteran turned explorer. The issue though is Tarzan never really grows or evolves as a character, and despite the film’s attempt to brandish its ensemble, it really needs more of its titular character.

The film certainly isn’t unwatchable, with several great action sequences and a surprising amount of racial sensitivity for such a major studio film. However, these elements don’t exactly do much when The Legend of Tarzan needs more Tarzan. It’s an admirable attempt, but for all its schlocky joys, it’s an empty film. Grade: C+

For more of my thoughts on The Legend of Tarzan, check out my appearance on “After Credits”:

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