Blu-ray Review: Tarzan (2013, Dir, Reinhard Klooss)

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The best version I ever saw of Tarzan in any kind of celluloid form was Greystoke: The Legend Of Tarzan, Lord Of The Apes (1984), so far I have not seen a better movie about Edgar Rice Burroughs’ character. The only animated movie I’m aware of tackled this character was Disney’s Tarzan (1999). Now we come to this “animated” version of Tarzan, a CGI motion capture flick, that’s PG, has no talking animals or characters breaking into song and is decidedly more adult, at least when it comes to life and death matters. But that doesn’t make it a good Tarzan movie in my book. It was interesting enough to keep me captivated till the end, but I can’t see myself wanting to watch it more times than I have to.

For a movie that takes place mostly in a jungle I was momentarily caught off guard by the opening where the film starts out in space as this Armageddon-sized meteor is careening towards earth. As it gets closer, enters the earth’s atmosphere and crashes I can only assume this was the infamous meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs.

That’s real nice and all but what does have to do with Tarzan?

We cut to modern times and the Greystoke family, of Greystoke Energies, who are in the jungle searching for this meteor so they can harvest it for its untapped energy sources. It’s rumored to be guarded over by this band of monkeys. The family finds it, but chipping a piece of it off seems to ignite its ire; the nearby volcano grows active, they all try to escape but the copter they’re in crashes, killing all but John jr (aka Tarzan).

As this is happening a separate story unfolds of this family of gorillas, the female of which loses her infant in an accident. She finds John jr, and decides to raise him as her own. The movie follows Tarzan days and weeks and months after the accident, then into being a teenager, then finally into being adult (voiced by Kellan Lutz).

During that time the daughter of one of the men who was helping the Greystoke family, Jane Porter (voiced by Jesse Stone) arrives in the jungle after a transponder from the downed helicopter is accidentally activated. The oily corporate CEO who now runs Greystoke Energies, who wants this meteor at any cost, joins her.

The meteor angle gave me a very H.P. Lovecraft vibe for at one point after Jane and Tarzan flee from being shot at they stumble into a part of the jungle Tarzan has never gone before and all the flora and fauna are mutated. An effect of the meteor it seems.

I could have done without the constant narration. It’s pretty heavy in the first 20 minutes, but goes away as Tarzan gets older. This narration felt exactly like the Blade Runner (1982) theatrical version, where the movie plays infinitely better without it. They should have done away with it here, as well, let the scenes play out and let the audience watch and discern what’s happening for themselves.

I didn’t have a problem with any of the motion capture CGI. It all looked fine to me. The movie’s villains unfortunately turn stereotypical once the corporation gets directly involved for the CEO pulls the military in and at one point it looked like Avatar as we see helicopters infiltrating the jungle’s air space and the men setting up bases on the massive meteor.

Tarzan gets the animals to fight them and we have a happy ending as he and Jane remain together to help defend the jungle. A mediocre effort in story telling, though I can’t wholeheartedly recommend the movie for repeated viewings, but as a one-shot curiosity watch, I can.

On August 5th Lionsgate released the film on separate DVD and Blu-ray/DVD combo editions. At one point this movie was up for pre-order at Amazon, now its gone and the only place I could find it was on Wal-Mart’s site as a Wal-Mart Exclusive, and that was for the combo only.

Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 2.40:1 high definition—5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio—English and Spanish subtitles.

Extra features included on both the DVD and the blu-ray is as follows:

  • The Making Of Tarzan (11:01): covers the motion capture, the CGI animation, the story, gorilla choreography and the plot using interviews with Peter Elliot, director Reinhard Klooss, and stars Kellan Lutz and Spencer Locke.
  • Becoming Gorillas (7:19): this is the gorilla choreography excerpt taken from the Making Of
  • Behind The Scenes With Kellan Lutz And Spencer Locke (8:00): And this is the portion of the Making Of where Lutz and Locke talk about their characters, etc, separated into it’s own featurette.

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