LowComDom Performances Presents
Film Review - Tarzan
In the past few years I've really beaten up Disney for their overly politically correct cartoons. I've pounded on them for complete re-writes of classic stories just so there would be a happy ending. And I've not been happy with their techniques of blending hand-drawn animation with computer-generated animation. You're not going to read any of that in this review of Tarzan.
What is so striking in this film is the leap forward in animation. Not only is the movement more dynamic than any other cartoon you've ever seen, but the blending of hand-drawn and computer animation is almost seamless. Tarzan flies through the jungle via hanging vines, with the swiftness of an eagle and the control of a hummingbird. In fact, in one scene as Tarzan is flying through the trees removing Western clothing to come to the rescue, you are reminded of Clark Kent transforming into Superman. The animation is consistent all the way from beginning to end.
As for story, well this isn't Edgar Rice Burrough's novel. It has been chopped and adapted. Tarzan never travels to England to assume his title as Lord Greystoke. It has been widely published that Disney removed the native Africans from the story to avoid the racism of the book. For this movie, which is widely marketed to children, perhaps this was the best solution. For an adult audience, one might leave the racist pieces in to not condone the view of Africans, but to point out the racism of the time the book was written. That's a difficult message to give a six-year-old. And changing the role of the native Africans would have only played into the PC hand I dislike so much.
This story is about how Tarzan is orphaned and taken in by gorillas. He grows up thinking he's an runt gorilla. Only later does he find out he's human. This creates great moments of confusion for Tarzan. Who is he really? Should he go to England? The point is forced when British game trappers attempt to capture his gorilla family. The alpha male is killed, and now Tarzan must protect his family.
What I really love is how they got the gorillas right in this film. The gorillas speak, but we find out they are speaking gorilla. English is provided only for the audience's benefit. So when Jane comes along, she cannot speak gorilla. In fact, any time Jane is in the scene, the gorilla language is not translated for us. This works like a charm. Tarzan had to learn English to speak to Jane, and if Jane wants to speak to the gorillas, she's just going to have to learn their language. Perhaps this is crediting gorillas with too much intelligence, but it really works.
Phil Collins' music is OK. It doesn't make the movie, but it does fit and is largely unnoticeable, much the way the soundtrack to Star Wars is unnoticeable. But you would think something was missing if it were gone.
Tarzan is worth your time and money. You don't need a six-year-old to go see it. We adults enjoyed it just fine without children.