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The Legend of Tarzan
The Legend of Tarzan
Director: David Yates
Writer(s): Screenplay:
Adam Cozad
Craig Brewer
Release Date: July 1, 2016
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The Legend of Tarzan is a action adventure film.

Plot[]

As a result of the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885, the Congo Basin is claimed by King Leopold II of the Belgians, who leads the Congo Free State in personal union with the Kingdom of Belgium. The country is on the verge of bankruptcy because Leopold has borrowed huge sums of money to finance the construction of railways and other infrastructure projects. He sends his envoy Léon Rom to secure the fabled diamonds of Opar. Rom's expedition is ambushed and massacred: He is the sole survivor. The tribal leader, Chief Mbonga, offers Rom diamonds in exchange for an old enemy, Tarzan.

The man once called "Tarzan", John Clayton III, has left Africa behind and settled down on his British ancestral estate with his American wife, Jane Porter. Jane grew up in Africa, among the people who became Tarzan’s first human friends. He is a peer of the realm, the fifth Earl of Greystoke, and is therefore addressed as Lord Greystoke. In addition to the status, rights and privileges that go with the title, he has inherited great wealth. In the eight years since his return from Africa, the story of his life as Tarzan has been published and is now legendary among the Victorian public, but John wants to leave that past behind. Through the British Prime Minister, Leopold II of Belgium invites Lord Greystoke to visit Boma and report on the development of the Congo Free State and the success of anti-slavery measures. The prime minister points out that this is an opportunity for Britain to get a foot in the Congo because King Leopold is defaulting on his loans and the Congo was the personal property of King Leopold. Greystoke refuses. An American envoy, George Washington Williams, who is tired of wasting time, bluntly lays out the publicity advantages to Leopold and the potentially great financial advantages to the United Kingdom. Greystoke refuses once again.

Outside 10 Downing Street, Williams stops Greystoke and secretly reveals his suspicions that Leopold is enslaving the Congolese population to recoup his debts and “keep the Congo working.” Williams persuades Greystoke to go to the Congo in order to prove his suspicions and tell the world the truth.

Flashbacks, sometimes very brief, are scattered throughout the film. They show pieces of John’s past and glimpses of his memories, beginning at this point with the death of his mother; his father's death at the hands of great apes called the Mangani, his adoption by Kala; his bond with his ape foster brother Akut; and the lifelong enmity of Kerchak, the jealous leader of the Mangani.

Jane is thrilled to go home to Africa and see the beloved friends with whom she grew up. Greystoke says that she should not come. He thinks the trip would be too dangerous: Jane recently had a miscarriage and he remembers the harshness of the jungle. Jane reminds him that she grew up in Africa as well, and misses her home and friends there. John relents, and allows Jane to accompany him after she promises to stay with the tribe while John and Williams check.

John, Jane, and Williams take the trip to the Congo. There, the trio circumvent the diplomatic envoy and official entry points and travel without bearers to the village of their youth, where they are met with a great celebration. In a story illustrated by a flashback, Jane explains to Williams that her husband was once considered an evil spirit by the African tribes. Jane was an object of curiosity to the young Tarzan, and Tarzan first revealed himself to her during a childhood game of hide and seek. Later, he saved her life by covering her body with his own and taking the crushing blows when Kerchak attacked her. The locals carried his broken body back to the Porter’s lodge and Jane nursed him back to health.

Frustrated by John's deviation from the travel plan, Rom and his mercenaries raid the sleeping village after the celebration. They kill the tribe's chief, capture John and Jane, and kidnap many villagers for use as slaves. John is rescued by Williams, but Rom's crew takes the remaining captives, including Jane, on board their steamship on the nearby river. Rom intends to use Jane as bait to lure John, and is surprised and admiring of Jane's vibrant tenacity and ferociousness. Rom also reveals that John's state invitation from King Leopold was arranged by Rom, and Rom intends to deliver Tarzan to Chief Mbonga.

John and Williams, with the aid of the tribe's remaining warriors, travel through the jungle, hoping to use the new Belgian railway to intercept the steamship and rescue their loved ones. After a daring race to overtake and board a Belgian military train, the group finds the train is carrying captured slaves. An engineer who builds bridges on the railways shows them a map with the details of Rom's plan—sanctioned by King Leopold—to take over the Congo using slave labor, newly built and fully equipped forts, a railway network to tie them together—and a 20,000 strong mercenary army which has not yet appeared. The only thing needed are the Opar diamonds. Leopold has nearly bankrupted himself paying for the initial stages of the plan, and requires the diamonds to pay for the army of mercenaries needed to complete his takeover and see a return on his investment. With the map, a copy of a proclamation making it against the law to pay natives for work and a ledger documenting all the slaves taken so far, Williams now has the proof he needs to expose King Leopold.

John and Williams task the warriors with returning the released slaves to their homes and then delivering the proof to the port city of Boma via the railway, while John and Williams continue on through the jungle to catch the steamship where Jane and the others are held.

They have no choice but to go through Mangani territory. As John and Williams continue, John encounters the adult Akut (Matt Cross) who was raised as his ape brother and now is leader of the apes. Aware that Akut considers him a deserter, John must fight Akut for permission to travel through their territory. John soon loses, but the pair are permitted to travel on. Williams closes John’s wounds with biting ants and repositions his dislocated shoulder. Williams recalls his work as an Indian fighter and the massacres of Native Americans during the American Indian Wars, comparing them to the abuses of Rom and Leopold and blaming himself. Elephants, one an old friend, come to John and Williams in the forest, and their presence eases their pain.

Jane escapes Rom's clutches on the steamship, warning a prisoner in a cage who is dropped into the river and then jumping from the boat and swimming to the shore past angry hippos. She sends him to get help. Her flight through the jungle is halted when she stumbles into a group of mangani apes, and must make a show of deference to avoid them attacking. Rom approaches the apes, making the gesture of deference as Jane promises to return with Rom in exchange for the apes being unharmed, but Rom's nervous men shoot, leading to slaughter. John saves the remaining apes, reconciling with Akut, before pursuing Rom, who is now fleeing in the direction of Mbonga's tribe with Jane in tow in the hopes of delivering Tarzan to them and receiving his payment of diamonds.

Seizing a fallen blade, John runs to rescue Jane. He is surrounded by Mbonga’s tribe. It is revealed that, years before, John killed Mbonga's only son because he had just killed Kala, John’s adoptive ape mother, during his rite of passage. John tries to warn Mbonga that Rom will betray him and return with his army to take all the diamonds and enslave the people of Opar. With John’s knife at his throat, a defeated Mbonga accuses John of lacking honor, as his son was just a young boy when John killed him. John agrees that he had no honor then and spares Mbonga, just as Akut and the Manganis arrive to subdue the tribe. Williams adds his voice to John’s warning of extinction—he has seen it happen.

Rom takes Jane and the diamonds to Boma, where he plans to take control of the mercenary army waiting offshore. John and Williams, with the help of Akut and John's lion friends, send a massive stampede of wildebeest through Boma, destroying the town, the soldiers and their munitions. John rescues Jane. As Rom attempts to escape with the diamonds by boat, Williams fills it full of holes with a machine gun as John swims aboard. Rom incapacitates John by strangling him with his spider-silk rosary and then tying him by the neck to the ship's railing, before trying to escape again. As part of a running joke about John knowing all the mating calls, he summons crocodiles, who rush to the sinking boat. The spider silk breaks, John overpowers Rom and leaves him to be devoured by crocodiles and escapes the vessel before its boiler explodes. The ships carrying the mercenaries weigh anchor and leave.

Williams returns to Britain and presents the Prime Minister with an open letter addressed to King Leopold II telling him of the proof exposing the slave trade and abuses of the Congolese in the lands held by him. One year after, the vast Greystoke estate in England is empty. John and Jane have settled in Africa, in the old house of Jane's father. John returns to his place among the great apes as Tarzan and he and Jane celebrate the birth of their newborn child.

Cast[]

  • Alexander Skarsgård as Tarzan
  • Margot Robbie as Jane Porter
  • Samuel L. Jackson as George Washington Williams
  • Christoph Waltz as Captain Léon Rom
  • Djimon Hounsou as Chief Mbonga
  • John Hurt as Prof. Archimedes Q. Porter
  • Casper Crump as Captain Kerchover


Production[]

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