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The Legend of Tarzan: Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

The Legend of Tarzan (2016) movie poster The Legend of Tarzan

Theatrical Release: July 1, 2016 / Running Time: 110 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: David Yates / Writers: Craig Brewer, Adam Cozad (story & screenplay); Edgar Rice Burroughs (the "Tarzan" stories)

Cast: Alexander Skarsgård (John Clayton/Tarzan/Lord Greystoke), Samuel L. Jackson (George Washington Williams), Margot Robbie (Jane Clayton), Djimon Hounsou (Chief Mbonga), Jim Broadbent (Prime Minister), Christoph Waltz (Leon Rom), Ben Chaplin (Captain Moulle), Simon Russell Beale (Mr. Frum), Yule Masiteng (Muviro), Sidney Ralitsoele (Wasimbu)

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When you think of Tarzan, you think of a man in a loincloth living with apes out in the wilds of Africa. That serves as the backstory, not the main narrative of The Legend of Tarzan, a new big-budget, live-action tentpole from Harry Potter director David Yates.

Onscreen text establishes the Congo Basin as being purchased in the late 19th century by Belgium's King Leo, who then runs up debt and needs to mine the land for its famous Opar diamonds.

The King's army goes invading the Congo, taking out a number of spear-throwing natives, but eventually being outnumbered and massacred. The one survivor is Captain Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz, adding another to his rogues gallery), who makes a deal with the savage tribe's Chief Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou, sporting a white goatee): diamonds in exchange for Tarzan.

Back in Victorian London, the domesticated and aristocratic Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) now goes by the names John Clayton III and Lord Greystoke. He is unmoved by a board room invitation from the King to return to the Congo as an emissary. On the street, straight-talking Civil War veteran George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson) -- an historical figure not found in Edgar Rice Burroughs' stories -- persuades Tarzan to reconsider. Tarzan's American wife Jane (Margot Robbie) also gets him to reconsider his decision not to let her accompany him on this trip.

Thus, Tarzan, Jane, and Williams make the journey to a land where the animals know and respect Tarzan as one of them. Unfortunately, the excursion is an elaborate trap set by Rom to make good on his promise to fulfill the vengeance Chief Mbonga seeks. Flashbacks give us some of Tarzan's past with the apes, as well as his introduction to Jane, though "Me Tarzan, you Jane" is saved for a passing joke from Williams.

In "The Legend of Tarzan", Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) returns to Africa with a wise-cracking American Civil War veteran (Samuel L. Jackson) by his side.

Legend of Tarzan is a nice-looking production full of striking vistas and sweeping camerawork. The visuals are in 3D, the CGI is plentiful, and the costumes and production design are every bit as unnoticeably suitable as you want and expect them to be. Where the movie disappoints is story. It serves up lots of it and it never resonates, leaving a void that nothing else is able to fill.

The cast is generally good. Indie-seasoned Skarsgård (evidently best known for "True Blood") is not an obvious choice for the title role, but he gives it class and understatement while also meeting the physical needs. Jackson provides some much-needed comic relief, including the funniest and least expected line that the film appreciates enough to keep calling back to. Waltz can do this type of villainy in his sleep, but if not challenged or engaged, he at least is awake as a man who always carries a rosary in his hand and repeatedly uses it as a deadly weapon. Robbie tries to give her character weight, but the part is more a married damsel in need of rescue than a heroine.

Yates, who came to Potter with hardly a theatrical credit to his name and wound up directing the final four movies, is at ease helming a big budget, effects-heavy movie. He has yet to establish a distinctive style, preferring to allow the material and not some bold vision to be the attraction. The result is something technically polished and immersive, without ever elevating to art or even first-rate popcorn entertainment.

Christoph Waltz adds to his rogues gallery by playing the rosary-swinging villain Leon Rom.

Expensive new takes on familiar stories have practically become a staple of Hollywood over the last few years, with Disney having success at making CG-heavy live-action retellings of their beloved animated classics like Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and The Jungle Book.
As evidenced by this summer's severely underperforming The Huntsman: Winter's War and Alice Through the Looking Glass, not every effort is guaranteed a big audience. With a production budget of $180 million, Legend of Tarzan could seemingly have gone either way, fading fast among the season's heavy multiplex competition or getting appreciated to a tiny extent of how the more family-friendly The Jungle Book recently was. Like every studio that isn't Disney this year, Warner Bros. Pictures could use a hit and some validation for the tentpole-driven model that most of the studios are embracing.

Tarzan was neither a clear hit nor an indefensible flop. Its $127 million domestic gross was beneath hopes and expectations, no doubt. But its foreign haul of $229.5 M somewhat made up for it. And in a summer where seemingly surefire commercial successes, like X-Men: Apocalypse and Independence Day: Resurgence stumbled, Tarzan seemed lucky to end up between them in the tier of secondary blockbusters.

The film isn't good enough to wish success upon, nor is it bad enough to hope it fails. It is, like many a middling modern summer movie, two hours of sensory engagement that isn't designed to catch people's attentions for more than a couple of weeks. On Tuesday, it looks to expand its audience as it comes to home video in Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D combo packs as well as a 2-disc DVD and 4K Ultra HD editions. Reviewed here is the Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD set.

The Legend of Tarzan: Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Descriptive Video Service, French, Spanish, Portuguese)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish; BD-only: Portuguese
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: October 11, 2016
Suggested Retail Price: $44.95
Three single-sided discs (2 BD-50s & 1 DVD-9)
Blue Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as Blu-ray Combo ($35.99 SRP), 2-Disc DVD ($28.98 SRP), 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD and on Amazon Instant Video


When a movie's budget reaches nine figures, you expect it to wow you on a technical level at the very least. I guess The Legend of Tarzan does that, spending heavily on visual effects befitting this tale. The Blu-ray's 2.40:1 presentation is everything you expect from 1080p: sharp (except in the scene when Tarzan and Jane are digitally scrubbed to look younger), vivid, and free of imperfections. Better yet is the 7.1 Dolby Atmos soundtrack, which envelops you with jungle sounds and Rupert Gregson-Williams score.

Director David Yates discusses liking Tarzan since childhood but being reluctant to make this film in "Tarzan Reborn." A man in a padded gray suit playing an ape gets a costume adjustment in the "Tarzan vs. Akut" behind-the-scenes short.


The Blu-ray's bonus features begin with "Tarzan Reborn" (15:10), a featurette putting this production into context as far as the hero's film history goes and also acknowledging what makes this incarnation different.
Chief among its interests are Skarsgård's physical transformation, which went so far to include a mobile gym enabling him to pump some iron before takes.

Next up comes "Battles and Bare-Knuckle Brawls", three scene deconstructions that examine the layers of visual effects, stunts, and fight choreography needed on three action sequences: "Tarzan vs. Akut" (5:15), "Boma Stampede" (4:53), and "Train Ambush" (4:57).

"Tarzan and Jane's Unfailing Love" (6:01) explores the film's central romantic relationship and the character dynamics that make it up.

"Creating the Virtual Jungle" (15:16) goes into detail regarding the use of green screen, CGI animals, and other visual effects needed to transform England into the wilds of Africa.

David Yates directs Samuel L. Jackson and Alexander Skarsgård on a green screen set. Alexander Skarsgård and Margot Robbie stand up for the endangered African elephant in "Stop the Ivory."

"Gabon to the Big Screen" (2:28) briefly covers the little bit the film actually shot in the real jungle of Africa.

Finally, "Stop the Ivory" (1:30) sees Alexander Skarsgård and Margot Robbie advocating for the endangered African elephant.

Because its DVD is a two-disc edition, of which only the first platter makes it here, none of the extras are found on DVD here.

The Blu-ray opens with a trailer for Kong: Skull Island and a promo for 4K Ultra HD. To them, the DVD adds trailers for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Central Intelligence, War Dogs, and Suicide Squad.

The main menu simply attaches score to a poster-adapted design.

No lenticular face distinguishes the plain slipcover, which differs from the design of the DVD edition but matches the others and the art of the standard keepcase below. Joining the three plain black discs inside is the insert supplying your Digital HD with UltraViolet code, whose back takes a chance to advertise Warner's 4K releases.

Though surrounded by spears, Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) puts Chief Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou) in a compromising position.


A new Tarzan movie is not the worst idea for a big budget summer tentpole, but The Legend of Tarzan proves to be mediocre and forgettable most of the time. Removed from the big screen and high-tech theater speakers, the movie seems especially flimsy, a sensory diversion that doesn't have strong enough characters and story to engage you as it should, even on a finely-tuned home theater.

Warner's Blu-ray 3D combo pack delights on a technical level and the extras are okay, but that's not enough when better-made blockbusters are so easy to find.

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Related Reviews:
New to Disc: The Jungle Book (2016) • Captain America: Civil WarSwiss Army ManInto the ForestCell
Directed by David Yates: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
From Edgar Rice Burroughs: John CarterTarzan (1999) | Written by Adam Cozad: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Alexander Skarsgard: The GiverWhat Maisie KnewBattleshipThe Diary of a Teenage Girl | Margot Robbie: The Wolf of Wall StreetFocus
Samuel L. Jackson: The Hateful EightJurassic ParkJumperThe SpiritThe Incredibles
Christoph Waltz: Django UnchainedBig EyesSpectreThe Green Hornet

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Reviewed October 10, 2016.

Text copyright 2016 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2016 Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures, Ratpac-Dune Entertainment and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
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