The Apes of Wrath
Film: The Legend of Tarzan, Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Samuel L Jackson, Margot Robbie, Christoph Waltz, Directed by: David Yates, Duration: 1 hr 48 mins, Rating: * * 1 / 2
Tarzan is one of the older fictional characters who first appeared in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes, more than a century ago. There have been several films over the years depicting the adventures of this popular hero who was born in Africa and raised by apes.
The Legend of Tarzan comes at a time when Hollywood has been using special effects optimally –it was put to excellent use in John Favreau’s The Jungle Book earlier this year. In terms of a broad sketch, both the films have many things in common but the overall impact is vastly different. The Jungle Book hit all the right notes from start to finish while Tarzan is far more inconsistent. Barring an impressive climax, the film never really takes off in a linear fashion. Every time the screenplay gets going, it is riddled with flashbacks that take away all the steam that is generated following which it has to start afresh.
The story does make an attempt to portray the Man vs Nature tale along with the exploitation of natives by corporate and governments. But, in the effort of giving us the background story by rewinding, the screenplay slips and slides. It opens with John Clayton III aka Lord Greystoke aka Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård, son of Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård) now settled in London, who is urged by George Washington Williams (Samuel L Jackson) an American, to visit the Congo at the invitation of the King of Belgium. Jane (Margot Robbie) insists on coming with him to the African country where they had first met.
Meanwhile Captain Rom (Christoph Waltz, who could play this role in his sleep) is on an exterminating spree killing anyone who will stop him from acquiring the minerals in cahoots with a company.
Tarzan, Jane and George embark on their journey, which is punctuated with adventures. Tarzan feels at home with the natives and constant flashbacks tell us about his origins. Jane is kidnapped by the mineral man and our hero then will not stop at anything till he rescues his beloved wife.
While there are some touching moments especially Tarzan’s encounter with the jungle animals the rest of it is like a see-saw. The core of this story has Tarzan in a jungle adventure in the Jason Bourne mould. Needless to say, he stands up to the tyranny of the Whites from Europe (with a black American in tow) that they commit towards the natives. It would be difficult to write a script that would be absolutely correct politically so this film merely skims the surface of the troubled relationship that has always existed.
Director David Yates who has four Harry Potter films to his credit is on familiar ground when it comes to heralding a film of this nature but the screenplay doesn’t give him enough fodder. While the special effects in The Jungle Book were superior, the sound design here deserves a mention.
The supporting cast of Christoph Waltz and Samuel L Jackson lend credibility to their characters. Alexander Skarsgård has an uphill task which he performs quite well – he plays a character that always seems to be vexed for some reason or the other.
If you don’t expect much from this Tarzan, you won’t be disappointed.
Film: Shorgul, Cast: Ashutosh Rana, Jimmy Shergill, Hiten Tejwani, Directed by: Jiterdra Tiwari, P Singh, Duration: 2 hr 11 mins, Rating: * 1 / 2
In one scene in Shorgul, the heroine is teased by some goons, she responds by delivering one of the most clichéd dialogue known in Bollywood – “Tumhare ghar mein maa behen nahin hain kya.”
Shorgul is a contrived film that ironically intends to add a touch of reality to the story. Based on the Muzaffarnagar riots that occurred in 2013, a rather lame romantic drama is constructed around it to get the point. There are allusions to real life politicians who were involved in the incident but that is not enough for this boat to sail through.
The first few minutes look promising, when a package containing a gun is transported from one location to another — but then comes the item number.
Zainab (Suha Gezen) is engaged to Salim (Hiten Tejwani). Her childhood friend Arjun (Anirudh Dhave) is her best friend but it takes a while for him, her and her finance to realise that he is also in love with her, which brings us to an ek phool do maali situation.
On the political front, there is Om Prakash (Jimmy Shergill) who panders to the majority community, Alim Khan (Narendra Jha) who delivers those rabble rousing speeches like Azam Khan, catering to the minorities. The ever reliable Ashutosh Rana plays a respected politician who tries to keep sanity intact when everything else is falling apart.
The political element of the story is relevant but the treatment doesn’t allow it to garner the importance or effectiveness that it should. There is a touch of amateurishness and a whole lot of melodrama in the proceedings.
Seasoned actors like Ashutosh Rana are aptly cast; among the new comers Suha Gezen needs a crash course in acting while Hiten Tejwani is competent.