*NEW* THE LEGEND OF TARZAN REVIEW *NEW*

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The king of the duds?

The cast did their best BUT it just wasn’t enough. A disjointed, drawn out and disappointing reboot of the iconic vine swinging jungle man.

Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard – True Blood), having acclimated to life in London, is called back to his former home in the jungle to investigate the activities at a mining encampment.

Once I got over the absence of a Phil Collins soundtrack, I was ready to embrace the start of the summer blockbuster season. On paper, this should have ticked all the boxes. BUT somehow it just didn’t quite deliver for me.

The opening was intriguing enough as Christoph Waltz’s shady Leon Rom (Spectre) struck up a deal with Djimon Hounsou’s (Gladiator) demonic Chief Mbonga. Simple. Access to the diamond mines in exchange for Tarzan’s capture.

However, the pace soon put me into a mini-coma as “civilised” Tarzan skulked around the incredibly drab (and appropriately titled) Greystoke Manor. It was a good 45 minutes before anything got going.

I could respect the writers for trying to shake up the legend BUT they skimmed through the origin stuff far too quickly and replaced it with a dull and predictable story line that was taken far too seriously.

The origin flashbacks were the most interesting bits. I was happy to watch the same old story of Tarzan raised in captivity and fighting with the alpha males.

The lovely Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street) was wasted in her role. She had good chemistry with Skarsgard BUT was confined to playing a damsel in distress. I was thankful that the flashbacks skimmed through their nauseating romance. It was only a few scenes and that was enough.

Waltz played the same stocky and slimy villain to laughable results. I couldn’t take him seriously. He may have had some moves with those rosary beads BUT Rom felt like a complete parody of Waltz’s former roles.

Skarsgard certainly looked the part and put my body to shame with his physique. BUT his broody demeanour and wooden delivery didn’t do Tarzan justice. He got better as the film progressed and won me over by the end BUT it was too little, too late.

Thank God for Samuel L Jackson (The Hateful Eight). A much needed comic relief to the piece. Considering the huge budget, I was disappointed by the shoddy CGI on offer. In one scene, the detail on the apes was uncanny. They looked as realistic as the ones in the latest Planet of the Apes.

BUT then the next sequence, we have Tarzan swinging from one badly CGI’d vine to another. Yikes. It spoiled the whole thing. I knew it was going to be a little ridiculous BUT the stampede finale was horrendous and far too cartoony.

Bearing in mind that Jumanji is over 20 years old (I know, right?!), I’m still impressed with the effects. BUT this latest endeavour actually had me wanting for the old school make up and props from the dated Christopher Lambert adaptation.

The last 30 minutes delivered a lot more of what I had expected from the get go! All the sombre serious drama thrown out for a funny, riveting (if disjointed) mad dash finale.

The fight sequences were actually well choreographed when Tarzan was allowed to show off his super strength. Because (of course) being raised by apes, you develop an incredible bone structure that allows you to dispose of numerous soldiers with one punch. BUT entertaining none the less.

It was all too disjointed for my liking. Robbie and Skarsgard weren’t really in it as much as you’d think. Especially Miss Robbie. She was either tied up (Steady now) or constantly recaptured.

Apart from Jackson, the rest of the supporting characters were either weak or unmemorable. For all of Chief Mbonga’s (Hounsou) promise, his reason for Tarzan’s capture was so predictable and dealt with far too quickly.

Disappointed, to say the least. We didn’t even get to see Skarsgard deliver the infamous jungle call. Just a couple of bellows off screen.

A meandering pace, shoddy CGI and weak characters ruined what could have been a fun B movie flick.

2.5/5

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THE GIVER REVIEW

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Hollywood gives us another post-apocalyptic teen franchise to sink our teeth into but does it make you want to?

In a seemingly perfect community, without war, pain, suffering, differences or choice, a young boy is chosen to learn from an elderly man about the true pain and pleasure of the “real” world.

Jonas: “If I’m the receiver of memories. What does that make you?”

The Giver: “I guess I’m the giver”

Childish laughter aside (I can’t believe they actually put that in there), we are handed another sci-fi teen flick with a protagonist who battles against conformity disguised as peace by a conniving dictatorship.

It certainly zipped along and wasn’t a bad way to kill 90 minutes but as I was watching I found it incredibly tough not to make comparisons to Divergent and Ender’s Game and as it concluded, all I could think was Hollywood better quit while they’re ahead before they kill more franchises.

Director Phillip Noyce has a great cast at his disposal; a mixture of fresh talent with the experienced Oscar veterans . . . and Katie Holmes. It was a surprise to see Holmes. Released from the Cruise cage to do a spot of acting. In all fairness, she doesn’t do a bad job. Let’s be honest, her acting was never brilliant. Meryl Streep does her best to make the role of Chief Elder engaging but the character is so mechanical and one dimensional that not even the Oscar winning starlet can work her magic. A shame as Streep is remarkable. She is able to pull in some emotion with her encounters with the gruffly Giver (Jeff Bridges).

Brenton Thwaites is a likeable lead. He has certainly been making the right impressions. Just not in the right films. Oculus was a dud no matter how hard Thwaites tried. Maleficent was actually not bad but his character was a little hammy. Yes, he was Prince Charming. However, he finally gets given a character he can work with and delivers a memorable performance. One to watch. Once Jeff Bridges gets over sitting looking angry and staring out Thwaites in a chair for 15 minutes, he delivers the goods yet again.

Odeya Rush (The Odd Life of Timothy Green) is also quite likeable and has some good chemistry with Thwaites. It’s a shame that there is always an inevitable romance brewing but if you finally fight conformity and stop taking a pill that suppresses emotion (Yep. I was thinking Equilibrium too), you would suddenly feel attraction, love, etc. Just a little corny for my liking.

Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood) was surprisingly wooden and seemed to be sleep walking the role but for those you have seen the film, I think there may have been a point to that. Speaking of which, I did not expect a cameo from a particular pop star as Rosemary. Let’s just say she made a swift impression.

Ross Emery’s cinematography is to die for. His use of monochrome juxtaposed against the introduction of colour as Jonas (Thwaites) begins to experience feelings and visions was a nice touch. The panning out to view the remaining colonies was a feast for the eyes. The 1984 overtones around the film was one aspect that did keep me intrigued and the idea of censoring people’s memories and using precision of language to specify exactly what they mean is something that feels all too real. And with the way political correctness is going . . . (REDACTED)

What I hate is that they give us little tidbits in the hope that we will be interested in another installment. Wrong. I want the first installment to hit the ground running and get me wanting another. NOT think that was okay. Maybe the next one will be really good. Noyce certainly ticked the boxes on pace. 97 minutes certainly breezes by with enough content to keep you watching. But the content, despite being brilliantly shot, has been done to death and so much better. A mesh of Divergent meets Equilibrium. I mean even the process in which the kids are given positions was just a futuristic sorting hat scenario from Harry Potter.

The film seemed all too nicey nicey. Until . . . a twist. A predictable one in hindsight. But a twist that turned the cheesy overtones to something much darker and it did make for a thrilling finale. However, it all ended too quickly and flatly for my liking. Now, unfortunately I haven’t read the Lois Lowry bestseller but I have it on good authority from fans that the film remains true to the source material. In that case, I will not be rushing to get the book.

At it’s best, it’s well acted, zips along, has moments of clever satire and action. At it’s worst, it’s predictable, a mix of teen and sci-fi flicks with an inevitable foot note that reeks of “THERE WILL BE A SEQUEL”

My main gripe with films like these is that they are just being churned out with no real attempt to be different. Originality is tough these days but I think Hollywood should spend a little more time looking at the source material, making a stronger film instead of relying on the same old guff or ripping off classics in such a lazy way. This is why The Host, Mortal Instruments and Ender’s Game all failed to earn another sequel. All best selling novels with die hard fans in their own rights. It’s always tough to impress fans but you can at least try NOT yammer on with corny dialogue, poor pace or stretching out a story to milk more movies. You need to impress us with the first. IF The Giver earns one, then they better come out guns blazing. A comment I use too often. (Even for Divergent).

3 (just) out of 5