Friday, December 18, 2015

Is This the Tarzan Flick That Finally Gets It All Right?


Doug: The first trailer for The Legend of Tarzan (due in summer, 2016) hit the interwebs late last week. What sayest thou? Visually -- yes. Story? I'm not sure we see enough to tell, but I am guardedly optimistic. One of these days someone is going to actually read Edgar Rice Burroughs's pulp fiction about the Jungle Lord and commit those stories to film. Those stories... not an adaptation. C'mon, man... I will say, though, that Burroughs must not have known that an "ape" is not an animal in and of itself. If you check the cast at the link that follows, you will see notable names of Tarzan's apes -- but it looks from the still below that they are all Bolgani. From IMDB, here is a quite basic plot synopsis:
Tarzan, having acclimated to life in London, is called back to his former home in the jungle to investigate the activities at a mining encampment.



20 comments:

Edo Bosnar said...

Looks interesting, but I'm not as excited as I would have been at about age 12/13, when I was a big fan of Tarzan (although I'm glad you brought up the whole "ape" thing; even as a kid - since I was also sort of a biology/zoology geek back then - I was puzzled by that aspect of the book: if they weren't gorillas or chimps, what the heck were they?!). I wonder as well how the movie will deal with the racism that was both implicit and often explicit in the original books.
I have to say, though, any excitement I would have for something like this is muted by the fact that the movie based on Burroughs' other popular franchise (which I liked better), John Carter, flopped. I *loved* that movie and still can't understand why there's so much apparent hate for it...

Doug said...

I've not seen John Carter, Edo. I am about 3/4 of the way through "A Princess of Mars" on a very intermittent reading schedule. It has not bowled me over, as I may have said before. I was happy to have visual references for some of the characters, however. That made it easier to wrap my mind around the story. So thanks in that regard to Joe Jusko, Gil Kane, and others.

Not sure I'm digging Samuel L. in this Tarzan flick. We shall see.

Doug

Edo Bosnar said...

Funny, Doug, the appearance of Jackson (and Christoph Waltz) in that trailer is something I considered a positive...
As for the Burroughs' Martian tales - yes, I liked them better than the Tarzan books, but after about the age of 13 I never went back and re-read any of them. (Honestly, Burroughs was not that great of a writer and I became disenchanted with his writing when I got about two-thirds of the way through the Tarzan books and realized I'd read the same story over about 7 or 8 times.) However, I just liked the setting of Barsoom which, despite its sort of SF veneer, is purely a fantasy world, and the stories are classical swashbuckling adventures - and the movie from a few years back just took that concept and ran with it. It stayed pretty true to the original story, didn't make any real effort to explain why Mars would have a breathable, oxygen-rich atmosphere or a surface temperature warm enough for people to run around wearing virtually no clothing, and told an extremely fun action/adventure tale in the process. I really recommend it, and I'd even go so far as to say that you'll probably like it more than the book.

Doug said...

Yeah, Edo, our younger son asked me if I still had all of the Tarzan novels -- said he might want to read a couple over the holidays. For the life of me I cannot find the first two. I had loaned them to our older son years ago and now no one knows where they are. Of the entire run of Ballantine paperbacks I have around 2/3. So I guess I'll either encourage him to read "Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar" and "Jungle Tales of Tarzan", or I may point him toward Joe Kubert's wonderful adaptation in the DC series. I also have the Russ Manning adaptation.

Hmmm... sounds like a side-by-side comparison could be in the works, doesn't it?

Doug

Edo Bosnar said...

Man, don't you just hate it when you loan books to someone and then he says he 'lost' them or something? ;)
On the Tarzan books, I'd say the first six are really the only ones you really need to read - venturing farther than that is only for the diehard Burroughs aficionados (and yes, I loved those Ballantine editions with the Neal Adams covers). In fact, your suggestion of "Jungle Tales" is quite good, as it can be easily read and enjoyed without reading any of the others, or read as a sort of prequel.
As for the comics - and I've said it before - for me the Marvel series is the gold standard, with wonderful art by John and then Sal Buscema.

Doug said...

I would love to see those Marvel books again, as I've not laid eyes on them since publication. Boggles the mind with all of the older Tarzan material from DC and Gold Key that's found its way back into print that some sort of profit-sharing deal has not been reached with Marvel. Dark Horse was able to pull it off with all of Marvel's Conan material. So if we re-ran Karen's old post on "What's Missing?" from our tpb libraries, the Marvel Tarzan material might top a few of our lists!

Doug

Edo Bosnar said...

Yeah, you know I would love to see Marvel's Tarzan get collected, and I'm also surprised it hasn't been done yet. One thing about this upcoming movie that gives me hope is that maybe it will all get collected (perhaps by none other than Marvel?) into a nice omnibus, the same way Marvel released its Warlord of Mars omnibus prior to the John Carter film.

(And man, this thread has really become a two-way conversation, hasn't it?)

Doug said...

We should just be emailing each other rather than wasting everyone else's time!

Agreed on the omnibus treatment -- I'd be interested.

Doug

Doug said...

Edo --

I just tweeted at Marvel Entertainment to see if there are any plans to get their material back in print. I'll let you know if they respond.

Doug

Anonymous said...

I've been waiting for a really faithful Tarzan movie my whole life, but I'm not sure this is it. As you said, it looks great and the story will probably compelling enough, but I think they'd be better off sticking to the book as closely as possible; maybe that's not feasible in a movie, since the first part of the book is about Tarzan's parents, his birth and childhood. But the fact that they're making up new characters for the movie doesn't fill me with hope. (At least I'm assuming "Captain Rom" and "George Washington Williams" are new...I don't recognize the names off hand.)

Mike Wilson

Doug said...

That's exactly what I thought, Mike. Why oh why oh why??

Doug

Humanbelly said...

Hey, no--- I honestly enjoy just following a conversation between a couple of folks here, even w/out contributing myself! It's a particularly good way for some of us to get quietly up to speed on topics that we might not be as well-versed in, y'know?

I wonder why I can't get more excited about a Tarzan remake? It just leaves me kinda going "bleah"-- regardless of how strong the production values might be. The dialog in this trailer wasn't inspiring much confidence, I must admit. Very pat. . . very "like every other action/adventure trailer". . . I dunno. How many ways can this story be told? At least it's not a re-boot from the beginning of Tarzan's story yet again-- that's a plus. But-- as a kid I loved the Saturday afternoon showings on TV of Weismuller's romps; the television show in the 60's had surprisingly suspenseful and engaging storylines (and a solid, lean Tarzan); Greystoke, for all its flaws, did have a number of surprisingly compelling moments (and a great, captured bit of improvisation when a pool-ball inadvertently ran up Chris Lambert's pant-leg); and the Disney-fied version was certainly an enjoyable-enough diversion. There've been PLENTY of Tarzans out there to choose from-- and as has been mentioned, the source material itself isn't strong enough to support the same kind of freshness and pop-culture immortality that we get with, say, a Sherlock Holmes.

HB

Graham said...

I like Samuel L. Jackson in some movies, but his tendency to speak in all caps doesn't fit every movie he does. It was a bit jarring in the little bit I saw here.

Looking at this preview, I'm not confident either that it will be that faithful to the ERB books. Maybe it will be closer than previous efforts. I did like Greystoke, though a lot of my friends didn't so much. At least we didn't see Bo Derek traipsing around in this one. :)

By the way, is it me, or do nearly all movie previews now include a slowly building pulsating thunderous orchestral score with the protagonist seemingly hurling himself into the air for a half mile or plunging downward for hundreds of feet (with arms and legs flailing)?

I think I will give this one a shot though. I did enjoy John Carter. I have tried to go back and re-read some of the ERB books in recent years and they're still fun, but I think the span of 30-40 years between reads makes a difference.

I've been a fan of comic book Tarzan since the mid/late 60's....through Gold Key, DC, Marvel, and the other later editions. Though I did enjoy the Manning versions, and the Buscemas', when I close my eyes, my Tarzan is Joe Kubert's.

Anonymous said...

Hmm like Doug I'll say I'm cautiously optimistic about this one. Most of what I know of Tarzan comes from John Buscema's Marvel version. While I'm usually a book person first and a movie person second, Burroughs's novels up to this point have never interested me for some reason. As for Samuel L. Jackson, while I loved his role as Nick Fury, I do have some reservations for him in this movie - like Graham said, his style of acting might not be the best fit here, but we'll see.


- Mike 'Tarzan yell' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Edo Bosnar said...

Interesting to know that I'm not the only one who liked Greystoke. For all of the wrong-headedness of its pretensions to make a "serious film" out of a pulp character like Tarzan, it did have a number of nice moments, as HB said. And I don't think I've ever seen Lambert do a better acting job...

dbutler16 said...

The late 70's-early 80's cartoon is the only one that's "gotten it right" so far.

Joseph Gilbert Thompson said...

we can hope-least it will not have the last hour of Tarzan Greystoke fiasco.John Clayton can adapt to civilization.Hey Hugh Hudson-seems,while adapting the novel,you forgot to actually read and understand what Burroughs was writing. Burroughs was not that great of a writer?Really.Lets see you build an empire on bad writing and see what you can do,fan boy.Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Humanbelly said...

Uhmmmm, TWILIGHT, JGT?

And, in my most coldly detached critical opinion, the last two volumes (at least) of HARRY POTTER?

Or, good lord, THE HARDY BOYS, perhaps?

And Burroughs was certainly a good writer, of course, but that's not the same as being a great writer. . . or even a being a reliably good writer. He could wax MIGHTY dull, and with the Tarzan books that seemed to be the case (for me) the deeper you got into the canon. Nope, I'd stand by that assessment. . . and mind you, it's simply an opinion. No need to be insulting.

HB

Edo Bosnar said...

Actually, HB, looking over the thread, I have to say that since I'm the one who initially noted that "Burroughs was not that great of a writer" (and, like you, I still stand by that assessment), I think I'm the one who aroused initially aroused Mr. Thompson's ire. That despite the fact that I was also quite complimentary about other aspects of Burroughs' oeuvre. However, nice response anyway - couldn't have said it better myself.

The Groovy Agent said...

I love the Tarzan books and have spent quite some time collecting all of the "black cover" editions (the ones with the Adams and Vallejo covers). Yeah, they get repetitive and some aren't very good (okay, some are downright silly), but I still love 'em, I guess because I love the character so much. I'm currently reading the new Tarzan novel by Will Murray. Very good book, if you're a fan. I HOPE they get him right in the movie. Or at least get him wrong in a harmless, fun, charming way (a la Weissmuller). Will keep an open mind...

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