In this update of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ story, young Tarzan (Kellan Lutz) is orphaned and stranded in the jungle, after his parents are killed in a helicopter crash. Taken in by a mountain ape, Tarzan grows to adulthood with almost no experience of the human world, until the evil CEO of Greystoke Energies – the company that Tarzan’s father owned – comes back to the jungle, looking for the mysterious meteorite that killed the dinosaurs and reshaped life on Earth.
Poor old Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan is the second recent attempt to adapt one of his most famous stories for the big screen – the other being John Carter – and it is the second attempt to fail miserably.
Screenwriters Reinhard Klooss and Jessica Postigo have given the Tarzan story a new and more modern twist by including the meteorite that wiped out the dinosaurs, and this twist almost worked. Sadly, a screenplay that can only be described as embarrassing horrifically betrays the interesting environmental theme brought into the story. The dialogue is filled with unnecessary exposition and clichéd, hokey turns of phrase. Just when you think it can’t get any worse, cringe-worthy voiceover kicks in, further explaining the already over explained plot.
As director, Reinhard Klooss seems to have an eye for action, but any strong directorial choices that he may have made – it’s hard to tell sometimes – are utterly destroyed by the screenplay and layers of exposition. The cast do what they can, but it seems their dialogue was recorded over many different sessions, with the audio awkwardly stitched together. Kellan Lutz as Tarzan comes out the best, but only because he has very little to say.
Tarzan has some of the worst animation ever to ‘grace’ the big screen. The animals, dinosaurs and landscapes look fairly decent, but Tarzan himself is the only human character to be designed with any skill or precision. The rest of the human cast – Jane Porter (Spencer Locke) included – look and move like early animation tests, never fully fitting in with their surroundings, and bearing more than a passing resemblance to the cheap animations used in Asian news segments.
Tarzan has some interesting story ideas that are lost in a film that looks cheaply and shoddily made. Adding 3D does little to disguise the poor animation and dialogue here, leaving Tarzan an embarrassing mess. Not all animation succeeds, but Tarzan is one that has surely failed.