Review: The Legend of Tarzan

CVzfZmYUkAAk3Vm The last time the general public cared about Tarzan to any significant degree was back in 1999 when Disney released their version of the tale of a boy raised by apes. I still like that movie. it's fun and funny and has entertaining music and really great animation. So honestly it was a typical Disney animated film which you should go check out if you haven't already in the past. If you have then go watch it again. Refresh your memory and cherish those images and songs so that you can use them to blot out this film that should not have been made this century.

Summer came early this year. The huge blockbusters are hitting in the spring now. Currently we are in the exact middle of summer yet the films we are seeing feel like the dregs at the end of the season. Those films that the studio spent far too much money on yet turned out rather pathetic so they schedule it away from any competition. You might watch this movie and wonder why it was ever given the greenlit considering no one really gives a damn about the subject matter. I don't wonder. This, my friends, is what happens when the old white guys that own the movie studios push forward something they find interesting. Because they are old. Very very old.

This film opened with a ton of exposition told to you via text across the screen. If you're not Star Wars you have no business doing this. Write a better script where the exposition is told naturally. Also make the exposition at least interesting as we are given a history lesson on the Congo and the Belgian's claim to it and blah blah blah. This movie starts boring and pretty much stays there so bare with me as I try to stay awake through this review. Anyway, the year is 1890 and we're in the Congo.

After the lengthy exposition we see Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz) wondering through the Congo with a band of soldiers. I don't want to give away what happens but just know he's there seeking diamonds. He makes a deal with a local tribe and in particular Chief Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou) to get a bunch of dianmonds in exchange for Tarzan. It's at this point we are brought to London where an American convoy lead by George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson) and some British folk are trying to convince John Clayton (Alexander Skarsgård) to return to the Congo for some fancy press nonsense. Honestly it didn't make a great deal of sense. The important information here is that John is Tarzan, this is about ten years after he left the jungle and is civilized to the point of pointing out his pinky when he sips his tea and Sam Jackson wants to get him into the Congo so he can break up a slave trade put together by the Belgian King and run by Leon Rom.

From here on out nothing is ever actually interesting. First we think we've skipped the origin story that everyone knows but nope. We get it all in flashbacks. Bit by bit throughout the film wherever it's related to the plot. There is nothing new here at all. Well except that he's naked instead of wearing a loincloth since he has no idea of clothing. This dude is built. Lots of shirtless time on camera and that might be the only selling point for those that don't know how to search Tumblr for porn. For the rest of us we get uninspired acting from everyone, a bit of Margot Robbie playing Jane as a woman that doesn't need a hero yet gets one anyway, awkward CGI animals all over the place including a really fake looking butterfly and a hell of a lot of black folk given jobs as the Congolese people.

I really can't express how boring this movie was. I kept checking my watch. I kept wondering how many plots we were going to sit through. I was curious as to where this was all going... then it became really obvious. The rich white man is there to stop the entire continent of Africa from being enslaved. Yup, we have ourselves a Great White Savior movie and it's really damn gross. In fact I have no idea why the Congolese couldn't save themselves as the warriors of the tribe friendly with Tarzan could do everything he could do. They were running and swinging and jumping and keeping up with him with ease. Why did they need this guy to show up and save them all? Because some old dude behind a desk wanted it to happen because that's the kind of story he grew up with.

This movie is easily forgettable. It's dull and uninteresting and it rehashes a story no one was really interested in revisiting. I would tell people to just leave it on in the background when it shows up on Netflix but I can't even do that. This great white savior crap needs to end, it's 2016. We should be better than this. Hell, there's a civil war era movie coming out featuring Matthew McConaughey called Free State of Jones that almost had my interest except the trailer seems to be the White Savior nonsense again. No thanks. I don't need movies featuring white men saving other minorities over and over. The Legend of Tarzan started out meh then turned into hot garbage. Someone spent a lot of money on this movie and it's a damn shame it wasn't put to better use.

[easyreview title= "Review of The Legend of Tarzan" cat1title="Rob's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="1.5" overall= false]

Review: Focus

focus-600x321 The heist film genre is one that isn’t easy to pull off these days. The Oceans' movies worked well to piggyback off the style of the original Rat Pack; good looking people wearing great clothes and looking cool. However, what George Clooney and Brad Pitt re-established in 2001, directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa aimed to bring back one more time. With a light touch, serious levels of intensity, and great twists and turns Focus accomplishes just that and perhaps a little more.

Focus tells the story of career con-man, Nicky Spurgeon (Will Smith), and resident newcomer to the criminal world, Jess Barrett (Margot Robbie). The two meet early on during a “job” and gain a level of mutual respect. Soon afterwards they part ways as Nicky goes off to do his annual job during the Superbowl. Unsurprisingly, Nicky and Jess reconnect and he adds her to his crew of associates. All the while, Nicky is falling head over heels for Jess, and the feelings appear to be mutual. Their love story adds an extra element to their dynamic that is pulled off quite well.

There are series of events that show off the skills of the two, and the cast of associates they work alongside. Farhad (Adrian Martinez) and Horst (Brennan Brown) are long time partners of Nicky’s and they work excellently as a source of levity. Speaking of levity, the comedic timing of all the actors is pretty spot on here. The movie shifts seamlessly from intensity to laugh out loud moments more than the trailers would suggest. Will Smith really hasn’t been this well received in a comedic capacity since the first Bad Boys film.

So like all heist films there is always the big job that has to be done to push our heroes to their limits, Focus is no exception. Nicky agrees to work a con for man named Garriga (Rodrigo Santoro). Garriga wants Nicky to sell a fake device to his competitors so that he can continue to have an advantage over them. The plan has some twists and turns, especially when Nicky discovers that Jess is currently with Garriga. Playing up the notion of choosing the con or the woman is a pretty standard trope, but Focus is able to put an interesting spin on it to keep our interest.

In conclusion, Focus is just plain fun and should definitely not be passed up. Will Smith makes a triumphant return after this last science fiction father/son flop. Smith is as cool as ever and reminds you of why he is considered one of the few big movie stars left. Margot Robbie is a surprisingly goofy, vulnerable, and balanced partner to Will Smith’s Nicky Spurgeon. The chemistry between the two is fantastic, they play back and forth with an ease that drives the film into a new space. Along with a great supporting cast, Focus might just be one of the sleeper hits of the year.

[easyreview title= "Review of Focus" cat1title="Jay's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="4.0" overall= false]