Do I categorize this movie in history or adventure??
Whichever category I choose, this is a fun movie to watch. While not being a big Tarzan fan (I do love the Disney film), I watched it primarily for Alexander Skarsgard...and it was totally worth it. Unlike most renditions of the Tarzan storyline, Legend works backwards. The English gentleman must return to his roots as the now famed ape man of Africa to rescue the woman he loves. I was glad they did the story that way and not feel like it was repeating the typical Tarzan trope. History is also mixed in with fiction as it deals with the corruption of colonialism of Africa in the 19th century and the heavy price that was paid by its people.
In 1885, King Leopold of Belgium has laid claim to the Congo Basin. While giving the appearance of being successful and prosperous, Leopold has run the country into bankruptcy. He has been borrowing money to pay off his expensive railroads, while using illegal slavery of the Congo people for labor and profit. However, his debts are mounting and he has one last solution. The famed diamonds of Opar (a fictional city in the Tarzan novels) that are in the possession of Chief Mbonga. The King sends his top man, Leon Rom to discuss terms of obtaining these diamonds. Mbonga has only one request, to get the diamonds, Leon must bring to him the the legendary Tarzan; a man that Mbonga has a personal vendetta against.
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For the last eight years, Tarzan has been living as Lord John Clayton of London. After he was found by Jane Porter and brought back to his rightful home in England, he has tried to adjust to the human world. While John wants to live a quiet life, he himself is a worldwide celebrity. Books and magazines tell of his 'wild and harrowing' adventures in the jungles.
When he gets an unexpected invitation to go to Congo as a special guest of of King Leopold, he rejects it. Knowing full well he cannot live in two worlds. However, George Washington Williams an American envoy with his own secret agenda, informs John that there is more going on in Congo than just the king's supposed prosperity and asks him to reconsider.
John's hesitancy to return to Conga isn't entirely unreasonable. He feels obligated to continue the legacy of his parents who were shipwrecked and died in the jungle. He wants to live as his father may have once live and have the family that he never had. John's wife, Jane, is a lively and headstrong American; she grew up in Africa as the daughter of an American professor who taught the native people English. Jane is delighted at John's invitation to go back to Africa and wastes no time in making plans. John is unsure about Jane inviting herself as she had just suffered a miscarriage earlier that year. An incident that is putting a strain on their marriage.
Eventually, for his wife's sake, John agrees to return to Africa. They have an exciting reunion with the tribal people that Jane grew up with and both John and Jane find themselves more relaxed than they ever were in England. The sadness of their lost baby, the confusion of John's future, the politics, the unwanted fame all disappear as John and Jane spend a passionate, love filled night with each other.
When morning comes, Leon Rom's deceptive plan to turn John over to Chief Mbonga is put into action. He raids the village, murders the chief and captures John and Jane. John manages to escape, but his wife is being held prisoner and leverage for him to turn himself over. Together, he and George face the dangerous Congo jungles. To save Jane and the Congonese people, John must return to a life he has tried so hard to let go of.
A beautifully filmed movie that was a simple story of a man caught between two worlds, but the woman he loved was the only world he needed. Swedish actor, Alexander Skarsgard may have been an unlikely choice for Tarzan, a supposed wild and ferocious man-beast. Yet, he brought to the character deep compassion and understanding. While not ruled by his emotions, Tarzan/John can be romantic and endearing while at the same time can be just as fearsome and powerful as the apes who raised him.
Margot Robbie was wonderful as the beautiful and uncompromising Jane Porter Clayton. Not content with being a Lady, Jane's love of Africa and the native people is as strong as the love she has for her husband. Hardly a damsel in distress, Jane knows how to carry her own, but has complete faith that John will always return to her.
Samuel L. Jackson provided a great deal of comic relief to the story. His own character, George, is haunted by the wrongs of his past and hopes that coming to Congo will help right those wrongs. While they don't see eye to eye at first, John and George's trek through the jungle, meeting John's 'adopted family,' and learning about each other, brings two very different men into a strong friendship.
|I love this so, so much!|
While I felt that the script could have been better in some areas (most specifically Jane and some of her dialogue), I found Legend to be fun, energetic, romantic and even comedic all at the same time. I loved John and Jane's relationship and how they were facing the realities of marriage, such as a miscarriage, trying to fit into a society that was completely foreign to the both of them and determining where their future was.
So often in films you see the beginnings of the love story that lead up to marriage, but rarely do you get to see the marriage itself. Everyone knows how Tarzan and Jane met, so why would you continue to repeat that same storyline? Instead you saw a marriage that wasn't perfect, that was going through some hard times, but there was strength and beauty to be gained from separation and eventual reunion.