The Legend of Tarzan

Director: David Yates (2016) BBFC cert. 12A

There’s no animal magic when the lord of the apes returns in this action adventure.

Now with over fifty movies plus TV series, cartoons and video games to his name, I’m not sure we need another, especially one this inconsistent, unconvincing and dull.

Set in 1886, the imperialist story of an infant English lord raised by gorillas has been refashioned as an anti-colonial and anti-slavery tale. Although the Africans are still forced to say stereotypical things such as ‘As is custom.’

Played by ripped Swede Alexander Skarsgard from TV’s True Blood, Tarzan has the speed of a lion, the agility of an ape, the endurance of an elephant and the charisma of a giraffe.

He can replicate the mating call of every jungle animal, so presumably his teenage years were interesting.

Now living in London as Lord Greystoke, he goes back to the Congo to investigate rumours of slavery by the beastly Belgians. Once there his local friends are captured, their village is burned and his glamorous wife Jane is kidnapped.

Margot Robbie does her best to give Jane some kick ass quality but basically exists to be rescued. Samuel L. Jackson tags along as comic relief and though their banter is woeful, he shares better chemistry and more screen time with Tarzan than Jane does.

Christoph Waltz plays an ambitious army Captain in cahoots with Djimon Hounso’s chief Mbonga. Neither are required to stretch themselves.

With the first ever Tarzan movie released in 1918, the oldest swinger in town is getting a little creaky.

The animated gorillas, alligators and elephants are noticeably below par for an expensive wannabee blockbuster franchise and director David Yates has an uphill struggle with a  lacklustre script.

He’s in charge of the Harry Potter prequel, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them. It’s due in November and you’ll not discover any such creatures here.



The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Director: Marielle Heller (2015)

This sincere and uncompromising drama examines the slow burn of a teenage girl’s sexual awakening – from her point of view.

Set in the 1970’s, it’s a taboo-breaking tale of growth and betrayal, a far cry from the ditzy social escapades of Bridget Jones.

Based on the graphic novel The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures by author and artist Phoebe Gloeckner, it’s described by the makers as sharp, funny, provocative and non-judgemental.

Perhaps not so much the funny, it does have an intelligent script, contemplative pacing, strong performances and, unlike the protagonist, possesses a strong sense of identity.

Fifteen year old Minnie (Brit actress Bel Powley) lives with her sister and single mum Charlotte (Kristen Wiig).

She has began an affair with her mum’s thirty five year old boyfriend, Monroe (Alexander Skarsgard). Minnie’s best friend Kimmie (Madeleine Waters) points out the obvious truth of the situation.

From the beginning Minnie documents her experiences onto cassette tapes via a (knowingly phallic) microphone – with predictable consequences.

Casual hook-ups, lesbianism, threesomes, prostitution, acid trips and coke binges follow.

Minnie is awkward, lonely, bright and talented. Her illustrations burst off the page and move around the frame, illustrating her moods and thoughts.

She writes for career advice to her heroine, the underground cartoonist Aline Kominsky.

Monroe to our eyes is a predatory paedophile, exploiting his relationship with Charlotte for access to Minnie. But importantly it’s not how Minnie sees him.

Equally, Minnie doesn’t see herself as a victim or a survivor of abuse, but as a person seeking independence, her own identity and a place in the world.

We have sympathy for Minnie and her younger sister Gretel (Abby Wait) but most adults are remote, repellent or pathetic.

Your young teenage daughter will probably love this film for it’s honest portrayal. You may be grateful she’s not allowed to watch it.