Earlier this year, The Jungle Book was remade with most of the songs removed. Now it looks like it’s been remade again with all the songs removed and also the fun, excitement and charm. This is a ropey and dull rehashing of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s creation, with Alexander Skarsgård giving us his rock-hard abs and an equally immobile performance in the lead role.
Things get off to an admittedly interesting start as Belgian troops move through the Congo, their colonial possession, in the late 19th century, with Christoph Waltz’s creepy functionary Léon Rom at their head (a version of the historical figure who was supposedly the model for Conrad’s Mr Kurtz). But then we are back in Eng-er-land, where super-handsome Lord Greystoke (Skarsgård), otherwise known as Tarzan, is prevailed upon by the PM to go on a diplomatic mission to his old stomping and swinging ground, with comely wife, Jane (Margot Robbie), and roguish US adventurer George Washington Williams (Samuel L Jackson), who is to become his best pal.
There is much well-meaning emphasis on the existence of slavery in the Congo, which may or may not make up for the implied equivalence between the animals and human indigenous tribes, with both of which Tarzan has such natural rapport, enlightened patrician that he is. There are plenty of flashbacks that show Tarzan’s former existence as a younger man in the jungle: sleek, semi-clothed, fully shaven. It looks like a two-hour Neutrogena commercial.
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