Movie Date: The Legend Of Tarzan (PG13)
VENUS by JOANNE SOH
This is one beautiful piece of work.
Yates really has a great eye - he gave us excellent cinematography in his Harry Potter films and he has done it again here with the help of cinematographer Henry Braham.
The African jungle is luscious, the animals so photorealistic and he also has two gorgeous leads.
Not only are Skarsgard and Robbie such a good-looking couple, their winning chemistry gives this actioner-cum-romance the added X-factor.
What impresses me is that Yates gives this classic tale a strong heroine, not a damsel in distress.
Jane is Tarzan's equal in almost every way. She puts up a fight when captured and spits in the face of her captor instead of screaming for help.
Skarsgard is relegated to doing all the physical work, while Robbie is given the task of engaging in a war of words with Leon. Both deliver on all fronts.
Yates reportedly chose Skarsgard over Henry "Superman" Cavill to be his hero and I'm glad he did.
Yates' vision of Tarzan is a refined gentleman who has suppressed his animal instincts.
The towering Swedish actor looks more at home running through the forest and swinging from tree to tree than chunky Cavill, with his bodybuilder physique, ever will.
The only downside is Waltz's character who comes across as a one-dimensional, stereotypical villain, a role the Oscar winner has played one too many times.
This isn't a Disney movie.
That is clear from the start as a Belgian expedition gets a brutal welcome to the African jungle. No songs here, I'm afraid, just death.
I like that this isn't a lazy origin story with an hour wasted on exposition.
That said, the movie is uneven: Beautiful cinematography is thrown off by moments of questionable CGI - what on earth are those vines attached to?
Wonderful casting is wasted on a wooden script.
Robbie is no wilting flower and Skarsgard is a genuine reflection of a man fighting to reconcile his inner beast with his outer man.
It's no coincidence that the movie shines when he embraces both beast and man to save his Jane.
Jackson, Hounsou and Waltz are criminally wasted. They each have a scene that shows how good they can be when given room, but are quickly shoved back into their tropes - comic sidekick, mystery baddie and scene-chewing big bad respectively.
I love the interactions between Tarzan and his animal companions. The relationship between his ape mother and brother is particularly touching and forms the emotional base of the movie.
Unfortunately, The Legend Of Tarzan is less than the sum of its parts. Which is a shame, because I can see the love in its making.
P.S. I grinned like an idiot when I first heard Tarzan's iconic yell.
It could have been cheesy. It was perfect.
RATING: 3/5 (+1 if you like chiselled abs.)