Writer: Casey ChongWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
“Tarzan (1999)” & "Avatar"
Not counting the recent two direct-to-video animated features (2002's "Tarzan & Jane" and 2005's "Tarzan II"), the last time we got to watch a Tarzan movie aimed for cinema release was Disney's popular animated feature, "Tarzan" way back in 1999. Now more than a decade later, Edgar Rice Burroughs' beloved creation has found its way ushering into a new era of CGI and motion-capture animation in a German-backed production simply titled as "Tarzan".
The story opens sometimes in the 1980s when an expedition, led by CEO of Greystoke Energies, John Greystoke (voiced by Mark Deklin), discovers a meteor crash site deep in the jungle. However, things go awry when he, his wife Alice (Jaime Ray Newman) and 4-year-old son JJ (Craig Garner) end up in a helicopter crash. Both John and Alice dies, but JJ survives. The young boy is later discovered by a female ape named Kala and she raises him like her own child. Now growing up as a teenager (Anton Zetterholm), he lives happily with fellow apes. But then one day, he meets a young Jane Porter, who visits the jungle along with her explorer father (Les Bubb), and immediately falls for her. Years later, the now grown-up Jane (Spencer Locke) returns to the jungle as an ecologist in an effort to save the environment. She meets the young boy again, now a grown-up adult whom calls himself Tarzan (Kellan Lutz). However, the new CEO of Greystoke Energies, William Clayton (Trevor St. John), who accompanies Jane into the jungle, has a devious plan in his mind - locate and obtain the missing meteorite at all cost since it has an invaluable quality capable to harness an unlimited source of energy.
As a CGI version of "Tarzan", kudos must goes to writer-director Reinhard Klooss for making this "Tarzan" a visually appealing motion picture. With the help of cinematographer Markus Eckert, the CG background of the tropical flora and fauna within the lush jungle is simply eye-catching to look at, while the motion-capture characters' animation is simply believable (particularly the fluidity of Tarzan's ape-like movements when he hops, jumps, runs and swings around the jungle).
However, Reinhard Klooss' screenplay is terribly cliched - and simplistic. Although he does make an effort of updating "Tarzan" with sci-fi undertones (as in the meteorite element), the overall story feels like a rip-off from "Avatar". Even most of the familiar elements that we come to know from a Tarzan story (e.g. Tarzan growing up in the jungle, Tarzan meets Jane, and so on), are told in the utmost formulaic way possible.
Meanwhile, the voice cast is a mixed bag, and none of them are particularly a standout. Most of the characters here are strictly one-dimensional, especially Kellan Lutz's stiff voice as the titular Tarzan. Of all the voice cast here, Spencer Locke's sassy performance as the adult Jane is at least worth praising for.
Despite all the flaws, "Tarzan" remains fairly enjoyable as a decent family entertainment this coming school holiday.Cinema Online, 19 March 2014