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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Ape-Man's Redux

The Legend of Tarzan (2016) on IMDb

Plot Overview

The Berlin Conference of 1884 divvied up foreign lands among European nations, Belgium acquiring the “Congo Free State” with its mineral-rich Congo River Basin. His Serene King Leopold of Belgium has over­extended him­self building a rail­road to exploit the country, so he dispatches Captain Léon Rom (Christoph Waltz) to search for the fabled diamonds of Opar to pay off his debts. Rom “found it”, but they're guarded by a native tribe whose Chief Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou) demands, “Bring ‘him’ to me, and you shall have your diamonds.

King Leopold asks the British Prime Minister (Jim Broadbent) to send John Clayton III, Fifth Earl of Greystoke (Alexander Skarsgård) as an envoy to the Congo to promote trade, but John doesn't want to return to “that wretched place.” American Dr. George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson), still smarting from the Civil War, mistrusts the King's good intentions and persuades Lord Greystoke to go and take him with him to investigate. John wants to leave his wife Jane (Margot Robbie) home where she belongs, but he ends up persuaded to bring her along, too.

When the trip goes south, as we knew it would, the Englishman reverts to his jungle identity of Tarzan in order to rescue Jane and help Dr. Williams expose the greedy capitalistic king and his minions.


Jane touts Tarzan's “power over the animals of the jungle, because … he under­stood them and learned to be as one with them.” He explains cross-species communication to Dr. Williams in a jungle fight scene telling him not to shoot no matter what happens or the gorilla troop would tear him apart. Instead, Williams is to bow to the ape leader Akut (Matt Cross) in an act of contrition, exposing his most vulnerable parts, thus accepting their permission to cross their territory.

This is not something Hollywood made up but can be observed in animal behavior in the wild and for animal-human communication mentioned in the ancillary scriptural book, (Jasher 6:4) “And Noah went and seated himself by the door of the ark, and of all flesh that crouched before him, he brought into the ark, and all that stood before him he left upon earth.”

This kind of communication helps us understand part of the story of Noah. After the Flood there was an incident, Gen. 9:20-22, where Noah got drunk on wine and was exposed in all his glory to his son Ham who brazenly viewed him so and bragged to his brothers. Noah's other two sons, Shem and Japheth, covered him up, Gen. 9:23. Ham had violated the domestic order by viewing his father in his vulner­ability, Gen. 9:24. Noah's curse puts Ham's youngest son Canaan in a position of servitude, Gen. 9:25. Noah's other two sons Shem, Gen. 9:26, and Japheth, Gen. 9:27, were blessed by Noah. Canaan in Ham's line was probably singled out for mention because of the Canaanites' later dealings with the Semitic Israelites. More germane to modern times is perhaps Ham's lineage through Cush. Cush was also a son of Ham (Gen. 10:6), settling in Africa. Cush in Hebrew means black. Researcher Bodie Hodge confirms that “As a general trend, Ham is the father of many peoples in Africa” (122). Dr. Ide adds, “Ham sired four sons: Cush (translates as ‘black’) … and Canaan the youngest” (62).

Historian Kenneth M. Stampp remarks that “Apologists for slavery traced the history of servitude back to the dawn of civilization and showed that it had always existed in some form until their own day” (14). The enslavement of Ham's descen­dants from Africa by the descen­dants of Japheth and Shem in the U.S. was a bone of contention of the recently concluded Civil War. Negro Dr. Williams didn't want Congo's kaffirs to suffer the same fate. The irony in this movie is that Williams was the subordinate side­kick of White Lord Grey­stoke, who as a child was raised by a troop of apes. Native tribes including Mbonga's tribe “would hunt his troop as a rite of passage.” That created some bad blood between him and Tarzan.

It was circular. In this movie all these parties converge for one major confrontation, and then the penny drops. Their main enemy is not each other but Rom and his minions like some­thing out of a Peter Temple novel: “so-called mercenaries, the live-action fringe of the gun-crazies. Almost every bar they infest has some thick­neck who can tell you stories about high old times killing black people in Angola (with the odd rape thrown in)” (197). The moral of this tale is that our real enemy is greed. If we were to harbor resentments against any­one we'd ever been subor­dinate to, then we'd all be at each other's throats.

Production Values

This Tarzan flick, “” was directed by David Yates. It follows the previous major Tarzan film, “Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan” (1984). It was written by Adam Cozad and Craig Brewer, based on the ‘Tarzan’ stories created by Edgar Rice Burroughs in his classic novel, Tarzan of the Apes. The plot conforms to its source material holding with the basic out­line of Burroughs's novel. The film stars Alexander Skarsgård in the title role, and costars Samuel L. Jackson, Margot Robbie, Christoph Waltz and Djimon Hounsou. Alexander Skarsgård and Margot Robbie are well-cast in their respective roles as a dignified Tarzan and a feisty Jane. Skarsgård looks the buff part of the brawny, slightly beastly misfit, in speech and mannerisms. He's not been etiolated by London life.

MPAA rated this Tarzan PG–13 for sequences of action and violence, some sensuality and brief rude dialogue. The movie is replete with beautiful visuals and sports some pretty decent action scenes. The supple camera-work of Henry Braham carries an acrobatic energy, especially as Tarzan swings from vine to vine. The movie suffered a tad from some jarring editing, though. Special effects were adequate for an expected show­case jungle setting.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This “Legend of Tarzan” is a passable but unmemorable viewing experience. It even had the signature Tarzan yell in the distance, but not one to rattle the speakers.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Better than watching Tarzan on TV. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall product rating: three stars out of three.

Works Cited

Hodge, Bodie. Tower of Babel: The Cultural History of Our Ancestors. Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Pub., 2013. Print.

Ide, Arthur Frederick. Noah & the Ark: The Influence of Sex, Homo­phobia and Hetero­sexism in the Flood Story and its Writing. Las Colinas: Monument Press, 1992. Print.

The Book of Jasher. Trans­lated from the Hebrew into English (1840). Photo litho­graphic reprint of exact edition published by J.H. Parry & Co., Salt Lake City: 1887. Muskogee, OK: Artisan Pub., 1988. Print, WEB.

Stampp, Kenneth M., Professor of American History at the University of California (Berkeley).
   The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South. Vintage Books, 1955. Print.

Temple, Peter. In the Evil Day. London: Quercus, 2006. Print.