The Legend of Tarzan (Blu-ray 3D) (2016)

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Released 19-Oct-2016

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Adventure Featurette-Making Of-Tarzan Reborn (15:10) : 1080p
Featurette-Making Of-Battles and Bare Knuckle Brawls (15:05)
Featurette-Making Of-Tarzan and Jane's Unfailing Love (6:01)
Featurette-Making Of-Creating the Virtual Jungle (15:16)
Featurette-Making Of-Gabon to the Big Screen (2:28)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Stop Ivory (1:30)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2016
Running Time 109:58
RSDL / Flipper No/No
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By David Yates
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Alexander Skarsgard
Margot Robbie
Samuel L. Jackson
Christoph Waltz
Djimon Hounsou
Jim Broadbent
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $39.95 Music Rupert Gregson-Williams


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (448Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish
Danish
Finnish
Greek
Icelandic
Norwegian
Swedish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Title only at 8 mins in.

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    If you measure franchises by the number of entries under a particular banner, then surely the greatest movie franchise of them all is the one featuring The Lord of the Jungle. The first movie Tarzan was Elmo Lincoln in the 1918 silent  Tarzan of the Jungle, long before the term "franchise"  was ever coined. Since then we have had approximately fifty more Tarzan movies, more than double the number of novels penned by Edgar Rice Burroughs, featuring a long line of muscular leading men. Perhaps the most famous of them all was Olympic swimming champion Johnny Weissmuller who took over the role in 1932's Tarzan, the Ape Man. However by the mid 40s Weissmuller was becoming too beefy, and was replaced by a younger, leaner Lex Barker - boy friend and spouse of Lana Turner. Others have followed, both on movie and TV screens, their torsos reflecting the growing obsession with the cult of the body. Now  Roadshow brings us the latest ape man  in the chiselled shape of former vampire Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood), and for the very first time Tarzan is swinging through the trees in 3D.

   The plot, with screenplay from Craig Brewer (Hustle and Flow) and Adam Cozad (Jack Ryan : Shadow Recruit) has elements of various Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan tales, including the flashbacks which establish the origins of Tarzan and his mating with Jane. The "contemporary" flavoured plot of this movie begins with a  lengthy written prologue, a far too frequent and cinematically lazy device - and I include Star Wars in the list of offenders. Considering the effectiveness of Margot Robbie's voice-over narration at the end of the film, how much better it would have been, from the very first seconds, if we had been led into the yarn by the dulcet tones of Miss Robbie. As the film stands, we read that the Belgian King, Leopold II, who was also ruler of the Congo Free State, is in financial straits primarily because of huge expenditure on infrastructure, including railways. To fix his finances,  Leopold sends his envoy Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz)  to Africa in order to secure the fabled diamonds of Opar. With the exception of Rom, the expedition is massacred by a tribe led by Chief Mbonda (Djimon Hounsou) who trades the diamonds for Rom's promise to bring back to the Congo, the killer of the chief's son, Tarzan, who, for eight years, has been living in his ancestral home as John Clayton, Lord Greystoke (Alexander Skarsgard), happily married to his American wife, Jane Porter (Margot Robbie). King Leopold, via the British P.M. (Jim Broadbent), invites Clayton to visit the Congo. After initially declining, Lord Greystoke is persuaded by American envoy George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson) who tells him that he suspects that the Belgians are enslaving the Congolese population.

    As you can see, we have a rather standard Tarzan  plot . Back in the 40s it would have been the nasty Nazis plundering  diamonds and enslaving the natives. Tarzan would intervene and we knew exactly what the remaining screen time would reveal. It's a pity that a more original plot could not have been found for this handsomely mounted production. It is true that the story has been garnished by elements which reflect modern day sensitivities. Racial equality enters Tarzan's world with words of wisdom uttered at appropriate moments by Jackson's character, while the feisty and assertive Jane certainly reflects today's woman. The annihilation of the African wildlife is an admirable issue to take up, but here it merely receives a casual nod. It is a shame that the basic plot was not more imaginative. This is made a deeper regret when so much that we have on the screen is admirable. The dialogue is not stilted and the performances are solid, with Skarsgard a majestically tall figure as he strides, clothed, across the landscape. When he finally bares his torso he is an impressive sight, physically matched by the beautiful Margot Robbie, whose Jane is warm, smart and strong. Even Jackson and Waltz are fine, and they are two actors who frequently fall into very predictable performances. Evidently director David Yates, veteran of four entries in the Harry Potter series, knows how to handle actors.

    Physically the film looks very impressive. Shot in the UK, with six weeks of location backgrounds filmed in Africa without actors, there are beautiful African vistas  and very impressive soundstage reconstructions. I admit to being a fan of 3D and the added dimension here certainly increased my enjoyment of the film, and not only in the big action sequences. The earlier  interior dialogue scenes soon made it evident that director Yates, and his cinematographer Henry Braham (Flyboys) know how to use the added depth, with  a  real sense of immediacy given to these dialogue scenes. The Legend of Tarzan was not actually filmed in 3D, instead the third "D" being added in post production. This technique has become so expert that I usually find it difficult to distinguish between "real" and "fake" 3D. In some scenes I did get the cardboard cutout sensation with figures against landscape, and I suspect that this came from the melding of location backgrounds with studio actors in the foreground. 3D gimmick shots are happily kept to a minimum, which made the "coming at you" explosions late in the film much more effective. My only complaint technically would be that some of the CGI effects are not up to the highest standard - the wildebeest stampede at the end of the film comes immediately to mind. Also, some of  Tarzan's stunts really just look like total animation, with  Skarsgard performing absolutely impossible feats swinging on vines. CGI enhanced stunts are effective if we are conned into believing, even for a moment, that, what we are watching is real, even though it may be amazing beyond belief.

    This latest Tarzan was  a box-office success, and I believe that a sequel is in the offing. Here's hoping that the makers manage to find a better screenplay for any second outing. This initial offering is a welcome piece of escapist fluff, for the most part beautifully mounted and well performed by an impressive Tarzan, an appealing and intelligent Jane, a good black sidekick for the white ape man, and an impressive villain. Long live Tarzan of the Jungle - but next time give him a better plot!

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Roadshow's local 3D release comes to us in a Zone B two disc set. The 3D conversion is on the first disc, with nothing additional. The second disc contains the 2D version as well as the half dozen extra featurettes. Both presentations are at the ratio of 2.40:1. Also included is access to the Digital Untraviolet download of the film.
    The 3D conversion is very impressive, with beautiful, clear, sharp images with no hint of ghosting. Despite a small loss in brilliance due to the 3D glasses, colours are rich, with varying palettes depending upon the individual sequence. Flasbacks are more subdued and muted, but still sharp and detailed. Shadow detail is excellent as are skin tones, with beautiful pore revealing closeups - particularly those of Margot Robbie. The widescreen image is often incredibly beautiful, with framing that utilises the extremities of the image, whether in the depths of the jungle or a London parlour.
    The 2D presentation was sampled and was also dazzling, with just a slight increase in brilliance over the 3D disc.
    As I am a fan of 3D I would choose the 3D version of this film. Though not native 3D, the conversion provides an often astonishngly  beautiful image.
   
    The English for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired subtitles were sampled and were excellent, presented in white and centred at the foot of the image.

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Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are four audio tracks : The slick indicates the presence of Dolby Atmos English, which my Oppo player and Onkyo amp convert to Dolby True HD 7.1 encoded at 48K, as well as English Descriptive, Italian and Spanish all Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 48K.
    The English Descriptive track is provided by an English accented female - which is appropriate considering the prominence of the Jane character in the narrative.
    The 7.1 English track is outstanding. The early dialogue scenes are extremely detailed, with brilliantly clear dialogue and subtle interior effects in the ambient surrounds. The high quality of the dialogue continues through the entire film.
    Once the film gets into active gear the surrounds really come to life, with barely a let up. Your speakers will be inhabited by all the animals of the jungle, as well as the roar of waterfalls and rivers, and vines swishing through the jungle. There is even a paddlewheel steamer and a train!  Oomph is regularly provided by the low-level track, from animal roars through to the quite spectacular explosions near the end of the film. This is an exciting and invigorating aural experience - deep and rich, beautifully complementing the 3D image.
    A final comment about the music. The composer is Rupert Gregson-Williams (Hotel Rwanda) and his symphonic score  blends traditional orchestral arrangements with African flavoured rhythms and sounds. It all sounds magnificent pumped through a decent sound system - rich and full and with a deep, thudding bass.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The extras, apart from the menu offerings, are  comprised of six considerably better than average "making of" offerings which are well worth seeing.

Menu

    The menu screen features the still of  "Tarzan" and  "Jane" featured on the slick, but cropped to include more of the surrounding image. Options are :

        * Play
        * Scene Selection : Selecting brings up an overlay of thumbnailed chapters, two sets each of five scenes.
        * Audio : English Dolby True HD 7.1 encoded at 48K
                       English Descriptive Audio : Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 48K
                       Italian : Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 48 K
                       Spanish : Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 48K

       * Subtitles : English for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired
                          Italian for the Hard of Hearing
                          Spanish
                          Danish
                          Finnish
                          Greek
                          Icelandic
                          Norwegian
                          Swedish

    On 2D Blu-ray disc only :
         * Special Features : See below for details of the six making-of featurettes.

Feaurettes :
Included only on the 2D Blu-ray disc are half a dozen making-of featurettes, adding up to 55:30 of bonus material.
All are presented in brilliant 1080p high definition with interview footage at the ratio of 1.78:1 and excerpts from the film itself at the original theatrical ratio.
In effect it really is a one hour making of featurette which is divided up into particular sections. There are talking head contributions from the stars, the director, the producer, the writers, the action choreographer and others involved in the artistic design and  the creation of special effects. All in all an attractive and entertaining bunch of making-of featurettes with a considerably better than is usual look into the special effects, primarily CGI, created for the film.

Tarzan Reborn : (15.10)
There is a nice look at posters and stills from old Tarzan movies, leading into on set interview contributions from just about everyone involved, either in front of or behind the camera. We even get to see and hear from Alexander Skarsgard's trainer and choreographer. There is a lot of talk about the deeper and more meaningful qualities of the plot, qualities  that are too easy to miss when you watch the film.

Battles and Bareknuckle Brawls : ( 15:05)
Three fascinating glimpses into the creation of particular scenes involving special effects. The narration and the visuals do give more insight than is usually the case, but that only left me wanting even more. Very enjoyable and interesting. The three sequences are ::
                Tarzan vs. Akut               (05:15)
                Boma Stampede              (04:53)
                Train Ambush                  (04:57)

Tarzan and Jane's Unfailing Love : (06:01)
This one naturally has more emphasis on the two leads and the element of romance in the film. Of course we hear about the great chemistry between the two, and the importance of making Miss Robbie's character a "modern day Jane".

Creating the Virtual Jungle : (15:16)
Mind boggling! This one will make you want to go back and watch the film again. So much imagination, craft and artistry were involved in creating this film. This longer featurette gives a rare and illuminating glimpse into the  creation of special effects.

Gabon to the Big Screen : (02:28)
This extremely short offering emphasises the role of Africa in the film - sorry, but I missed that - and the theme of animal preservation, also given no more than glancing attention in the screenplay.

Stop Ivory : (01:30)
This is a very brief, but earnest plea from the two stars  for us to join the push against the ivory trade and to save the elephant from extinction.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The local Zone B release appears to be identical to the US release.

 

Summary

    The new live action Tarzan is  a feast for the eye and ear. In converted 3D it is a dazzling, often beautiful coffee table book of a film. The special effects are a wonder, and performances solid. Tarzan is blonde and handsome with muscles to spare, and Jane is a strong, buxom blonde beauty. Technically and in front of the camera it is terrific. What a shame that there wasn't better writing at its core. The one hour of extras will give you added appreciation of the film.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Tuesday, November 01, 2016
Review Equipment
DVDOPPO BDP-103AU, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 60UF850T 4K. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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