I hear that the new Tarzan movie got bad reviews, but I didn’t pay much attention to that. John Carter and the last Conan movie got bad reviews too, and I enjoyed both of them. And in the case of the Conan movie, the things that the reviewers most consistently complained about were the things that I loved because they made it clear that the people who made the movie had actually read a Conan story. At this point I’ve just resigned myself to the fact that movie reviewers don’t quite get the old pulp stories and shouldn’t be trusted to review movies based on them. That means I just have to watch them for myself (which, let’s face it, I’m probably going to do anyway).
If you read DC Comics in the 90s, you’ve probably read something by Chuck Dixon, even if you don’t know his name. I’m pretty sure there were weeks where every non-Vertigo DC book that came out was written by Chuck Dixon. Chuck Dixon was no Frank Miller or Alan Moore or Grant Morrison. He didn’t do anything fancy or groundbreaking. Chuck just wrote comics, and he wrote a lot of them. None of the comics he wrote were great, but they weren’t bad either. They were solid, which in itself is a feat given how prolific Chuck was during the height of his career as a comic book writer.
Why I’m I telling you about Chuck Dixon? Because The Legend of Tarzan is a lot like Chuck Dixon’s work. It’s solid, but in no way remarkable. There are some high points, like some fun action scenes, Jane getting a few action scenes to herself, and Christoph Waltz hamming it up as King Leopold’s evil henchman in the Congo, but there’s nothing about them to make the movie a must-see. There are also low points, like not nearly enough action and animals, too many Snyder-style “splash page” slow motion shots, and Samuel L. Jackson phoning it in, but none of them are enough of a problem to make the movie something you should avoid. It’s an enjoyable, workmanlike Tarzan movie.
If you like Tarzan, you’ll probably enjoy it as long as you keep your expectations in check.
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