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Fan Reviews on Tarzan and the Lost City

Fans speak out on Disney's Tarzan, now playing in theaters

Visit the ERBzine Silver Screen Site
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Fan Reviews on Tarzan and the Lost City

Reviewed by Tangor...

Tangor and Mrs. went to one of six theaters in the Houston area still showing Tarzan and the Lost City. Of the six, two were regularly priced at $1.50 and $1.00. The one for a buck was $3.00 worth of gas away, so we opted for the former. The seating capacity for the theater was 206 (I counted). When Mrs. Tangor and I arrived before screening, we were the only ones in the audience. Later, after two semi-excellent trailers for up coming attractions and the opening credits had begun, an elderly man with three elderly women entered. Well into the first part of the film a lone fellow quietly seated himself at the rear--gone were the hopes of a private screening of Tarzan and the Lost City.

Mrs. Tangor, who knows doodley about Tarzan or the Tarzan mythos (book or film), interrupted your reviewer's concentration so frequently in the first 20 minutes that threat of physical violence was required. Little good did this accomplish as the questions and commentary continued unabated.

After clarifying that THIS Tarzan was an adaptation of an adaptation, bearing little or no resemblance to the original book version, we settled down to enjoy a well-photographed, fairly nicely edited adventure story that was, as Mrs. Tangor put it, "very predictable." She even voiced dialogue from the insidious Mr. Ravens before the character spoke "Bring me the girl", etc.

"Is that Tarzan?" she asked as the film began. "Is that his name?" (Clayton) "Is that Jane? I thought she was a jungle girl." "Is magic in the books?" and various other observations prove that even a non-Tarzan weenie recognized weaknesses in the character's portrayal.

We both admired the scenery. Mrs. Tangor's comments on the actors: "Jane has nice skin and big teeth and not overly endowed. Her English accent is better than Tarzan's." (I revealed that Jane Marsh is English) "Tarzan has nice buns and an endearing smile. Nice body." The latter was repeated several times during our after viewing conversation.

Tangor's observations:

Cinematically this is an attractive movie. Visual concepts are well presented and the CGI is pleasantly restrained. I enjoyed the settings, particularly the river town with its squalid street and worn wharf area. The story (what little there was) is simple enough for youngsters yet, in many ways like an ERB adventure story, implies enough for the adult to fill in the blanks. The action was fast paced yet, thankfully, not as unbelievable as some of the earlier Tarzan film presentations. This Tarzan is not superhuman, but is definitely a tree-hugging ecologist.

Van Diem actually suits me as a Tarzan figure. He's not too pretty boy (Barker) or too steroid (Scott) too lanky (Mahoney) or stupid (Wineswiller). His action stunts were acceptable. Even the jungle kung phooey fits into the character's abilities. The yodel was used three times too many, otherwise worked.

Unlike commentary from other amateur reviewers on this list, I am of the opinion that Tarzan was very much a part of the final action in the film. Ravens (Steve Waddington) was a villain with promise, but whose character seemed cut off at the knees to preserve a PG rating (as was the language of the film).

I am MOST pleased with a scene that probably failed to register with most viewers. Tarzan saves Jane by throwing a knife at a rapscallion. We do not see the knife take out the bad guy--we see Jane's reaction instead.

Perhaps I am more willing to suspend disbelief than others, but I found little wrong with the gorilla costumes, the concept of a magical Opar, or the peer friendship between Tarzan and the natives. The adventurous Jane was acceptable, as was the squeaky clean script and situations. Unfortunately this movie was made in 1998 instead of 1958, where it would have been greeted with oohs and ahhs. Today's movie public has become jaded with grotesque and gratuitous violence, extreme f/x and hard language--which is NOT found in Tarzan and the Lost City.

I rate Tarzan and the Lost City on a par to Tarzan and His Mate for romance, and with Tarzan's Greatest Adventure for cinematography, and with Tarzan's Three Challenges for script. No other Tarzan film combines so many good and bad elements of Hollywood's Tarzan in one presentation.

Overall I enjoyed the film as escapist entertainment--I hold no illusions that Hollywood will ever portray "the real ape man."

Finally, Mrs. Tangor had ulterior motives for suggesting that we see Tarzan and the Lost City. Not five minutes after we walked out of the theater did she then reveal the depth of her machinations: in return for going to see Tarzan I had to walk through three furniture stores and buy her lunch. Still, it wasn't that odious a trade for 84 minutes of air conditioned amusement on a sultry, smoke-laden day.

Reviewed by

Okay, here goes; I'll take a shot at reviewing the latest Tarzan movie. But first, although I know little or nothing of the cinematic arts, I do know Tarzan. It all started for earnest in 1960, when as a ten year old boy, I first learned that there were actually books about the guy. A quick trip downtown resulted in an ancient clerk retrieving dust covered volumes of Tarzan and the Leopard Men, and The Son of Tarzan from the treasure vaults of the fabled City of Yakima public library system, and I was hooked. I initiated my pal Blaine to this pleasure, and we soon discovered that Churchill's bookstore had a trove of old Burroughs books, usually at a price of $1.95 per. We're talking hardbound here; The flood of cheapo paperbacks had not yet hit. In the next few years I read every Tarzan book available, plus a few Mars and Venus numbers. I like to think that my personality and view of the world were in some way patterned after lord G, not to mention a smattering of Conan. 

As I grew older, and my hair became lonelier. I drifted away from my interest in Tarzan, but, like a virus, the passion remained, hidden. A year ago, I discovered the Internet, and you can imagine the rest. I ordered videotapes of the earliest silent movies, and located first editions thru Bibliofind, etc., etc. I even called my friend Blaine, now a hot shot lawyer, to tell him of the great sources available, but he didn't really seem to care anymore. My own ten year old daughter asked me the other day; "Why are you so obsessed with Tarzan?" I couldn't tell her, because, frankly, you either are, or you're not. I imagine anyone reading this drivel will know what I mean. (My 11 year old boy is a convert, however. I started indoctrinating him when he was four, by reading the books to him, in order.

So, anyway, back to the movie. On a scale of ten, I give it a four. Apart from the usual, customary observations about nice photography of scenery and excellent color values, the writing and casting was putrid. Need I remind anyone that Tarzan is the strongest, most ferocious, fastest, and most agile human of the 20th century? And he's played by a sawed-off, soft-sinewed pretty boy with a voice straight out of the Vienna Boy's Choir? MY Tarzan single handedly killed Bolgani before he hit puberty. (Although it appears that Caspar hasn't hit it yet, either) MY Tarzan routinely dispatches lions and leopards with bare hands or primitive weapons. Casper couldn't fight his way out of a wet loincloth, and gets pushed around by the great white bad guy. I know Hollywood can create extremely powerful characters, like the young lady in Species, yet this is the best Tarzan they can come up with? Tarzan, in the early 20th century was 6'3". If Burroughs wrote today, I would imagine he'd be more the size of Carl Malone. We don't need wimps playing this part.

Jane? What's wrong with a literarily correct blonde; preferably one not in dire need of orthodontia?

To me, Opar is a crumbling, sprawling, vine covered collection of massive walls and edifices, honey-combed with secret wells, passages and chambers. Not a faux-Mayan pyramid stuck in the middle of a weed-infested parking lot. Opar, without La? Like a day without sunshine. La is Opar. A lot could have been done with a love triangle, Jane vs. La catfight, but somebody missed the boat.

Frankly, this whole movie missed the boat. Despite its flaws, Conan the Barbarian with Arnold, came close to a fair and accurate rendition of the true character. Can't someone do this with Tarzan? Or are we doomed to a succession of Esteban Mirandas?

Reviewed by Laurence Dunn...

Well I've just gotten back home from my fun packed long weekend in the U.S. of which one of the highlights was the new Tarzan film. I found it an enjoyable film and probably one of the best Tarzan films yet (I won't say it was better than Greystoke as that was a different type of film altogether which focused on the inner battle within between his wildlife upbringing and the environment that he was expected to adopt). 

I liked the way they used music that was similar to Greystoke but made it a variant. Making reference to Jane living in England continued the theme from Greystoke (she was after all a ward to the Clayton family).

Wonderful scenery shots and more wildlife than we've ever seen in a Tarzan movie (not including stock footage used by some of its predecessors). Loved the scene where Tarzan took the gun from Waddington making it appear so fast that your eye couldn't follow which of course was the whole point and what about the ape attack on the hunters and the aerial shot of the ape leaping from one tree to another was great. 

The illusions created by Mugambi also worked well and like any illusion, if you destroy it, it returns to its natural state which is what happened to those warriors at Opar who were defeated by Waddington's men. The film had some great camera shots of Van Dien running through the jungle mist and I also liked the head-on shot as he ran towards Opar.

Yes I definitely enjoyed this film after all the doom and gloom that was touted around on the ERB lists prior to its screening and hope that it succeeds enough with the public at large to spawn its own sequel.


Reviewed by Ray Le Beau

Just saw the Big T movie. It was a command performance, I was the only one in the theater for the 3:20 show. I also think I conned the theater manager to give me the Tarzan movie poster after its run. He knew I was serious when he saw my Tarzan license plates.

Now the movie. When will Jane ever be a blonde from Baltimore. It's been said before, Caspar is to short/needs deeper voice, but he did do the character well. Too much magic. I like Tarzan movies, so I give it a 6 for plot and 9 for cinematography.

Dan Gire of the Chicago area Daily Herald wrote a scathing review, but muffed his facts by saying " William Rice Burroughs was spinning in his grave.......", I called him to set it right with "Edgar"

And speaking of movies, has anyone noticed the strong ERB themes in Iceman, some years back. How about Sullivan's Travels from the forties and compare it to The Oakdale Affair, or the R rated Cave Girl from the eighties.

Till next time,
Ray Le Beau

Reviewed by Lisa Godin...

Good Points:
* Had the whole theatre to myself
* great trailers to other movies
* Opening drumming
* Breathtaking South African scenery. Yes, gang, S. Africa
* beautifully coiffed lion
* Ravens as a villian
* Tarzan's expertise with the bow
* tension between Tarzan and native warrior
* council scene
* Magombi's cool makeup
* Jane shooting like a man
* cobra morphing
* Ravens turning into lightening rod and crispy critter
* the bone trick
* Casper's vine swinging
* elephant riding
* animals released and watching poachers scramble like the fools they are
* ship captain
* Roly Jenson stunt coordinator from TEA
* Greg Pouste stunt double to Casper, Joe's stunt double

Bad points:
* Jane is a bow wow
* ship captain's assistant who talked like a stereotypical native. When he was killed, WHO CARED??
* Jane shows temper but screetches at harmless snake in treehouse
* Jane bitching that Tarzan must do jungle bit, yet follows after him. Shows desperation to get hitched
* Jane can shoot at men but screetches at cobra and Sabor
* Elephants released and Jane shouts "you're free!" Duuuh!
* Casper being cast as Tarzan
* Casper's girly girl voice
* Casper's height!!!Short Tarzan doesn't work for this she ape
* Casper taking too long to be in bloody loincloth!!!!!
* Tarzan yodel.Still a giggle drawer, but belongs to Weismuller. Keep it with him.Casper ain't no yodeler
* Bee scene. Corny
* dynamite guy almost blowing himself up till Ravens took the stick and threw it.
* Casper should have longer hair
* Casper seeming to have an American and English accent. Which is it fella?
* Jane trying to swing on vine and screetching like a fool then falls into water. Finishing school is for you, not vine swinging, girlfriend. 
* chimp dancing and making me dizzy and stealing dress
* having a gramaphone in tree house and the dancing.Thought Tarzan liked the jungle to get away from it all not keep silly civilized trappings. What happend to less is better in jungle dwellings?
* spinning camera angles of Tarzan and Jane in England. Dizzying
* Tarzan not being called Tarzan the whole bloody movie
* bad ape costumes that look like bad imitations of Lucy the missing link
* Tarzan shimmying around like crazed tarantula so couldn't see movement up trees too well
* the use of a chimp for comic relief
* Joe not being used as Tarzan [g] 
* $6.50 ticket
* chinzy looking gold in Opar
* almost constant smooching by Tarzan and Jane
* falling floor and tunnel with water ride a là Disney hokiness
* Tarzan can't grunt like Kala taught him to do. Bad Tarzan!
* Ravens' saying after Tarzan bloodies him in the temple:"I don't want to die here" and Tarzan falls for that trick!
* Casper's reeeallly bad acting.
* Casper's annoying belt buckle on his loincloth. Stupid! If Mugambi supposedly dressed him after curing him of cobra venom, he could've given him a decent loincloth that didn't have a Pilgrim belt buckle to hold his drawers up
* No La
* no muscles. For someone who works out as much as he, Casper is a girly girl!
* Total rating compared to the few Tarzan movies I've seen:6. And that ain't sayin' much so maybe that shouldn't count


Reviewed by Robert...

I saw the 4:15 PM showing of Tarzan and the Lost City. For some reason as soon as the opening titles started to roll, I got real nervous. See: Everytime I've seen a movie in the last few years, the curtain goes up, I maybe see a short sequence advertising the theater chain and what's available at the snack bar, and then 10 - 20 minutes of trailers. Well... Today there were NO trailers! Zip! Zilch! Zero! In the lobby there were fancy signs for Godzilla, Zorro, Mighty Joe Young, and a host of others, but not one little titillating trailer. Do you think Lowe's didn't bother since they knew the audience was going to be empty? (There were about 20 people in the theater, and half of them were junior high school kids cracking jokes and acting wise.)

The movie opened well. African music, jumping natives, nice shots of African wildlife and terrain.

Then Numa appeared and witnessed nefarious goings on between Raven (the villain) and some natives. Meanwhile, John Clayton is in England celebrating his forthcoming marriage to Jane. Suddenly he turns and gazes into the fire, and in the flames he sees what is happening at home. It is not made clear that Numa is sending these images telepathically. The association can be made, but it is not spelled out. And for some unexplained, and probably stupid reason, the sequence worked for me. 

Cut to: John talking to Jane, explaining why he must return home. She is upset and angry, but still he must go.
Cut to: Africa, and John is there. He has some discourse with Mugambi.
Cut to: A small boat sailing along an African river. Jane is on board.

Huh!!!!!!! Why is she there? Why did she follow John? If somebody knows, please tell me.

Anyway... The movie sort of meanders back and forth for the balance of the hour and twenty-three minutes. (Those idiots at Netscape must have seen the director's cut to post 1:42 as the running time.) 

It is basically a chase movie, with a lot of running about. Jane is with Tarzan, frolicking in the jungle. Then she is captured by Raven and made to stumble through the jungle. Tarzan gives chase. And... He finally catches up. Duh!

Some of it made no sense, but what the hell. If Hercules and Xena can use martial arts moves to fight their villains, why can't Tarzan? 

There was a sequence early on, where Raven and his men were being followed by anthropoids who were in the trees. The camera did some neat cuts and swishes, and it looked like the apes were racing through the middle terraces. Yet when Tarzan appeared, he swung on vines. But I was very hopeful for a little while.

The biggest problem I had was the lack of *any* Mangani words or names. Jesus! Even the Keller's shows use them (albeit incorrectly). And then to discover that the chimp that hung about briefly had a dumb name like Jembo, or something.

The morphing just looked like another Epic Adventures episode, meaning it pretty much sucked. And when Tarzan's allies appeared by changing from bone joints, to skeletons, to warriors, I only wished for the presence of Ray Harryhausen.

I don't know if I could recommend the movie. I've seen much better, and I've seen much worse, so I guess I could. It was fun; stupid fun, but fun nonetheless. It doesn't really matter anyway... All the Tarzan fans around here will see it regardless. Just don't look for it to be in the top five money-makers after its first weekend. 

Reviewed by Duane Adams...

My wife and I were going to be traveling through the Omaha area on opening day so I managed to talk her into stopping and seeing the first showing of Tarzan and the Lost City. I really had not planned to see it this soon because of all the nasty comments posted of the list serves.

It was listed for 5 theaters in the Omaha area. There were only five other people in the theater. Two of them were an older couple who got up and left in the middle of the movie. After a while another person got up and left. It was not that bad.

As a movie I would rate it as a C. As a Tarzan movie in comparison to other Tarzan movies it was a B. 

Each media has there own Tarzans. The book Tarzan obviously is the best. The movie Tarzan and the comic book Tarzan are naturally going to be different because of the restrictions and requirements of the media itself. I was happy to see Tarzan on the big screen again. It has the potential to be developed into a block buster series. But it did not happen in this film. 

Van Dien's performance was enjoyable except when the native insulted him and he wanted to retaliate. Like Tarzan cares what anybody says about him.

Neither my wife nor I were aware that Van Dien was short. I think they shot around that beautifully. I smiled when he used the rope and bow -- at last! I also appreciated showing him speaking multiple languages including the language of the animals. And Tarzan running tirelessly, endlessly through the jungles and the plains to rescue Jane that was my Tarzan. Marsh's Jane was plucky and thoroughly modern. My wife found it totally unacceptablethat in 1913 a young unmarried woman would be allowed to travel unaccompanied -- and unaccompanied to Africa?

Yes it dragged in the first half of the film. But then it raced (literally and figuratively) towards the end. The first part of the film was edited like a television show and I found that disturbing. Towards the end it was much better. Probably because they figured out what the movie was going to be about. I don't know if that is the fault of the writers or the director, but it needed a tighter story line. I can accept the magic and the morphing and the swinging on vines and the yodeling and the having a pet snake -- in other words I can accept all the stuff it takes to bring people into the theaters as long as they will keep making Tarzan movies. My only request is to spend more than a dollar on ape costumes.

Some people complained about the music (Chris Franke-B5). The drums at the beginning and the end were terrific. The scenery - absolutely glorious. The scene with Tarzan and Jane riding on Tantor in the mist of the jungle is the most beautiful shot ever in any Tarzan movie and as good of cinematography in any movie.

Oh ya, I almost forgot. The lion was the most wonderful looking lion in any film -- maybe too perfectly quaffed. 

The Lion Man (The Ghost and The Darkness lions were pretty damn cool)

Reviewed by Jim Thompson...

Kaor, fans!

I'm just home from the Clarksville premiere of TARZAN AND THE LOST CITY. The local paper carried an interview with Van Dien this morning, but no review. We shared the theater with one other adult couple who sat on the back row (we were on row 5 as usual) and with half a dozen 12 or 13 year old girls and one adult female chaparone on the front row. I guess they were there to see Casper. They sure went "oouuuu!" when he appeared in a loin cloth for the first time.

What can I say? The film makers had made me no promises and I went with very low expectations. But Linda and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It may be on a "B" picture, but the production values were consistently high, and the performances uniformly serious, never campy. You can quibble over the use of magic and computer morphing (neither used to great excess) and you might object to Opar being nothing whatsoever like ERB's Opar. BUT FOLKS, this is a film we can be proud of. I place it among the top five or six Tarzan pictures of the "talking movie" era. There were some sublime visuals, a few moments with the apes, a couple of marvelous scenes of Tarzan (w and w/o Jane) riding an African elephant, smart editing that gave Van Dien's Tarzan the appearance of considerable strength and even more considerable agility, and one special moment using close-ups of hands and feet to suggest Tarzan racing by hand and foot over the branches of the middle terraces, even if vine swinging was emphasized more. There was a chimp, but not named "Cheetah." The new modification of the classic Tarzan yell was used judiciously and worked well. I've never considered jane March particularly pretty, but after the first scene or two while in England her characterization was quite satisfying.

This may not be the greatest Tarzan movie we've ever seen, but it is very definitely a winner. It's very suitable for young folks. go see and take your friends! Enjoy!


Reviewed by Matt Winans...

My biggest problem was the amount of sorcery in the movie. Why did the guardians of Opar need Tarzan's help at all. If that guy had done his BEE-TRICK in front of the bad guys, I think most of them would have called it quits.

The guy could summon undead warriors! Tarzan did NOTHING in the climax. NOTHING!

Having said that, I enjoyed the movie. I, obviously, love Tarzan movies and had a great time watching this one. It could have been MUCH better, though.

The scenery was fantastic. Jane was so-so (although I don't find March all that attractive). The villain was decent. Van Dien was okay ... kinda short with a lame voice, but he has a great glare!

The movie did have some strong points, but not enough to be successful...

Have Tarzan fans just given up? A couple Tarzan-like scenes and that's enough? Is just seeing Tarzan on the big screen so intoxicating (I admit to loving the big screen experience) that we don't care about plot or characterization and don't need our hero involved in the climax?!

The potential was there! The pieces were in place. But they wasted it!

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the movie and I'm very happy to see Tarzan back on the big screen (I'm happy seeing Tarzan on ANY screen)! I also think it has its moments (the early quick-cut footage of Tarzan and the apes in the trees, Tarzan in the water, etc.). I'd recommend it to anybody - Hey! It's a Tarzan movie and that makes it worth seeing! It just wasn't very good.

Somebody mentioned the running shoes - I spotted them, too. I also thought, in a few scenes, Tarzan's bow looked a little less than taut.


Matt Winans has reviewed every Tarzan movie ever made. See how many stars he gave "Tarzan and the Lost City" at his web page: Matt's Tarzan Movie Guide

Reviewed by J the V...

I wrote the other day that I never met a Tarzan movie that I liked and I guess I'll have to get out the ketchup and the steak sauce and eat my keyboard. We went, we saw, and it wasn't all that bad. In fact, for a "Hollywood" Tarzan effort, it was damn credible.

Certainly better by leaps and bounds than all but about 10 minutes at the beginning of Greystoke, Bo's travesty, and several others of recent vintage. I know that Casper is not very tall, but someone behind the camera or in the editing booth paid attention to that fact and managed to avoid shots that show his true stature. And he's not too muscular, either. A full 2 inches over six feet he's not. But Ed is....and Ed's got gray eyes too.

Let me say first that going into this I was prejudiced against the choice of Jane March as Jane. In everything I've seen her in before today she always played a slutty character. But as Jane Porter, granted with a brother Doug and hailing from England, not Baltimore, she did get the best lines: "I taught myself to shoot but my brother taught me to drink Scotch and smoke cigars." and later, when warned not to show fear she mutters: "I guess fainting is out of the question."

Tarzan is not an illiterate, grunting savage and Jane is not a shrinking violet, fainting at the slightest inconvenience. She's certainly got balls in this movie.(Did the screenwriters read Tarzan's Quest?) Good job from both Casper and Jane. Granted, he did some things that I'd never expect ERB's Tarzan to do, but I'll chalk that up to Hollywoodism. Tarzan would never have let the cobra bite him or Jane, he'd have bitten the snake and it would've died.

And they got ERB's classic Tarzan's triumvirate of weaponry correct: the knife, the bow and arrows, the rope.

The story is weak, but when taken in the vein of all those silly lost race adventures that ERB's Tarzan of the 1930s had, the plot, or what little of it that there was, was, as Seven of Nine would say, acceptable. I also have no problem with the snake morphing (it was pretty good and certainly fit the plot action at the point where it was used) and the skeletons becoming warriors stuff worked too, but the bees, well, those bees, that was really stretching it. By the way, Ed liked the bees sequence. Go figure! Witch doctors of the world, untie! (G)

And I never really got the gist of what Opar was supposed to be. Good? Evil? A New York deli? Early on I felt that it was a place of evil, and that the whites were going to unleash the devil and his hordes on the world either as revenge for snitching the gold or for entering a place sealed up for the outer world's protection from the great evil. When you actually get there, Oparians are the good guys. The jury's still out concerning Opar as far as I'm concerned. But I guess the avenue of statues is doubling for La's fifty frightful men?

The lion mind meld was even acceptable. The way it was done you kind of think that the witch doctor had some hand in that too, using the lion as a familiarl Ask any native from darkest Africa of 1913 (and 50 years later, too) and they'd tell you magic exists and it can even KILL you! (Remember, if you believe it, it can happen.)

Well, I guess I've used up more than my alloted 50 lines. Oh, one last note: the theater's first showing was about 1 p.m. and Ed and I went to the 7:30 showing. I counted 30 people in the theatre. With those kinds of attendance numbers, better see it quick or you'll have to wait for the video release. And, thank ghod, they all but lost the stupid chimp! Ghod, I hate those stupid Cheeta chimp antics in Tarzan movies!

They even got the elephants right. I HATE it when they use Asian elephants instead of African elephants in Tarzan movies (unless the movie is set in India, of course).

J the V

P.S. I really was expecting a BOW WOW this evening.

Reviewed by Steve Wadding

Well, it was kind of a thrill seeing my name on the big screen, even though they added that "ton" to the end. My ancestors dropped the "ton" because it was too heavy. 

I liked the movie, by the way. Except for the magic. And I could have done without the chimp. And the friend I went with said she glimpsed Casper's running shoes a couple of times when he was running, though I missed it. Also, it can't be Opar without La. In the scene early on where Tarzan and the ape troop attacked Ravenns' men, there was a nice shot of Tarzan travelling through the branches, shot in such a way that it let you know he was doing what we all want to see him doing (no vine-swinging), without having to actually have an actor or stuntman really doing it. He did some vine-swinging later on, though.

Steve Wadding (no "ton"), aka
Ghak the Hairy One, King of Sari

Reviewed by Erich von Harben


I just returned from being the first in the theatre to see Tarzan and the Lost City. In fact, I was the only one in the theatre for the first showing!

I enjoyed it! It was NOT ERB, nor was it a good pastiche. It was, however, an enjoyable afternoon. The telepathy bit summoning T to Africa was kinda stupid. The guy morphing into a giant cobra was nausiatingly reminicient of T: The Epic Adventures.

Jane is ENLISH, and NOT American, nor are they married until the end of the movie. Plot is pretty weak, but it did move well at times. I think I would give it two stars. Cheers!

Erich von Harben, da early bird

Reviewed by Dominic Lopez

Casper looks good and moves well. He comes off a bit young, but as this story occurs early in Tarzan's carrier, that's not altogether a bad thing. He seems to fight with some kind of ape fu which I liked. Jand March as Jane was funny looking. I've seen many worse Tarzan films, but this is still a disapointment. First the good stuff...

The Good
Bow and arrows
The ol' rope 'em from the tree trick
Ape fu
No boots

The Bad
Dancing chimp in a dress (not called cheeta)
general magic crap
The Wrath of God

We don't waste too much time in England, about three minutes. The middle of the film is not too bad. Lots of swimming, swinging, and yodeling.

Mugambi apears to be such a powerful magician that I question why he needed Tarzan's help in the first place.

In the ridiculous end Tarzan's efforts turn out to be pointless. The villian is not stoped by Tarzan, but by the Wrath of God, (or the spirits of Opar or whatever) which presumably would have happened without Tarzan's involvement. In fact the villians would havew got thier's sooner if Tarzan hadn't slowed them down.

So there you go. Oh well, there's always Zorro this summer.

Reviewed by Pat Adkins

Well, I'm back from seeing Tarzan and the Magic Bees, or was it Mugambi and the Lost City? About thirty people attended the 3:30 pm matinee ($3.50 admission) on a Saturday afternoon at screen 14 in the Palace Theater ("largest multiplex in the four-state area"). For what it's worth, the film is showing at about six theaters throughout the city, and this is an especially bad time for a film to open in the New Orleans area--opposite Jazz Fest.

Since I expected it to be bad, I was pleasantly surprised throughout the first half. They managed to keep me interested and entertained, and provided a number of ERBish sequences that have seldom if ever been captured on film before. We got moments where the ERB Tarzan shone through--especially in the early action sequences (an ape attack! A noose from the trees!), and it was nice to have them build upon the Lord Greystoke element of the character. (Odd, too, how they couldn't decide if this was or wasn't a sequel to Greystoke.) I still haven't figured out why the opening legend referred to Tarzan being found (I think it said) in 1904, but then the story takes place in 1913. Either this Tarzan had a very long romance with Jane, or somebody isn't very good with dates.

Jane Marsh was appealing if miscast. Did anyone else notice her shoving cartridges into the front-loading percussion pistol she was carrying? Hey Mr. Director, that gun doesn't work like that. You have to pour powder down each cylinder and jam a lead ball in after it. (I know because a friend gave me a replica Navy model identical to it; it would have been considered obsolete by 1880.)

Then we got to the bees, and I gave up. From that point on, the movie piled absurdity upon absurdity, all the way through the totally out of place "Raiders of the Lost Ark" ending. I could put up with the telepathic message from Mugambi (though Tarzan has never been depicted anywhere as having native friends before he went to England), but this magical rescue, complete with unconvincing special effects, simply destroyed any suspension of disbelief during the remainder of the film.

Still, I agree with Jim (whichever one it was) that the film is among the top five or six Tarzan movies ever made. That's faint praise, though.

I'd say it was better than the Mike Henry films overall --great outdoor footage, great native footage, great pacing in the first half, and lots of (poorly filmed) action sequences. For a while they really captured the mystery of the Dark Continent.

John Guidry saw the film with me and pronounced it the best Tarzan movie in fourteen years. Of course it is the only Tarzan movie released in the last fourteen years. His reaction was a good bit more negative than mine. Doug Wirth came with us -- his second viewing -- and agreed with me overall: fun but stupid.

Principle problems with the film boil down to these: 1) Van Dien can't deliver dialog convincingly for this character and isn't imposing enough on screen. Tarzan requires an actor who dominates the screen. Imagine how different it would have looked if the actor had Weissmuller's body. 2) The film relies too much on slow and fuzzy motion for its action sequences, and is too enamored with trite karate-movie style flips and somersaults. 3) In an effort to avoid criticism for their inclusion of black savages, they've made the black shaman too powerful, diminishing Tarzan's role as hero. 4) The magic was unnecessary, trite, and harmed the story. In fact, it turned the story into nonsense.

As usual they mucked up a lot of ERB's original details, with no apparent reason for doing so. One more misrepresentation of Opar. Still, it's nice to see a new Tarzan movie. I just wonder if anything less than a truly top-notch film can turn Tarzan back into a successful movie franchise. I don't think so.


Reviewed by Tony Martin

Guys, I absolutely loved Lost City. If you take away the magic I would rate this a 9. as is its a strong 8 !! Personally I saw lots of what I always pictured Tarzan like. I love the water scenes where he raises partially out of the water, then submerges to conceal himself from the bad guys. Using the bow with the accuracy only he has. 

I thought Casper was fantastic. Man of few words (unlike myself), physically well built. (or as my daughter put it....FINE !!!! ) His movements were much better than Joe Lara (sorry Lisa) and ten times more athletic.

Jane was also fantastic. Now she would not qualify for Bay Watch, but she has something girl next doorish. She was a very good actress and handled herself very well.

Now the villain. Steve......YOU DE MAN !!!!!!!!! Fantastic performance doesn't seem good enough to describe the job you did. I didn't get to see you on Epic Failure because I quit watching it but you were great !!!! I hope your career really takes off if somebody important sees you in this part. We are not worthy !!!!

Whoever did the casting did a great job. Editing also did a great job. Everything just worked great for me. I kept sitting there, waiting like the jungle beast, expecting to be dissapointed, and the only time I cringed was when magic was used. This movie went leaps and bounds beyond my hopes. Now when does it come to video.

Here is how I score it.

Without the magic......strong 9.
With the magic...........strong 8. (since it was kept to a minimum)
Casper's performance...10
Jane's performance.......10
Steve's performance.....10
Rest of the cast............10
Locations......50 (some of the best location filming ever in a Tarzan)

Tony...the pleasantly surprised.

A comment by James Rogers...

I am one of those who think that a movie could be in the top 5 or 6 Tarzans ever made and still score in the bottom hundred films ever made (all right, I'm exaggerating, but you know what I mean). The split in opinion between everyone is pretty stark and the telepathic lion and treehouse angles don't sound too good.....thought we'd seen the last of the treehouse, anyway.

Reviewed by Elmo

I went into Tarzan and the Lost City with an open mind. I didn't expect a great Tarzan movie. (Damn few of those have ever been made..."Greatest Adventure"..."Magnificent"...the first two Weissmullers...and Elmo Lincoln's "Apes," of course.)

I didn't expect anything. And I didn't get anything.

Midway through I was yawning and looking at my watch.

Was there any Tarzan in Tarzan and the Lost City? Hmm. The scene where John Clayton first confronts Ravens, in the tent, knocking the gun from his hand with lightning-quickness. It was a Tarzan move.

I liked the jungle. It was thick -- the kind ERB's Tarzan lived in.

I liked that Tarzan used a bow and arrow. And was barefoot. I also liked the scene where he rode Tantor into the village and went nose-to-nose with the native, staring him down.

It didn't feel like ERB, but I kind of liked the scene where Tarzan brought Jane to his treehouse and showed her his father's books. I liked how he told her he taught himself to read, but mostly looked at the pictures. And how he grew up here and how that was why they were worlds apart. (That could have been conveyed better, in my opinion, if he ripped out the jugular of a zebra with his teeth and started munching on a raw haunch.)

If it looks like I'm stretching to find something redeeming in this movie, well, I guess I am. The fact is, it was just plain boring and silly for the most part. I could forgive the morphing and magic if it somehow made sense. But it didn't. It was just there. Tarzan himself was just kind of there, too.

How can you do Opar without La?

The telepathic message that sends Tarzan back to the jungle was just...pathetic.

Casper Van Dien didn't impress me as Tarzan. He seemed too short. And his voice wasn't right. Too high-pitched. As for the yell, many of the 25 people in the theater I was at chuckled whenever he yelled it.

Jane March was an o.k. Jane. I liked her line about how she taught herself to shoot; her brother taught her to drink scotch and smoke cigars. (Her brother?)

The apes...Well, I've read that they had a limited budget. It shows. They were little better than the apes who raised Elmo, back in 1918.

This movie will not convert legions of new ERB fans.

A shame.

But...has any Tarzan movie ever done that?


Fans speak out on Disney's Tarzan, now playing in theaters

Review by Cambotan

What sort of ruined the movie for me, was that I basically knew everything about the film before I saw it! I read the little Read along books, went to the fansites, etc. Oh, I could myself! I ruined such a good movie for mysef! Agh! But that's not to say that it sucked! No, no, no. Far from it! This was one kick ass cartoon! I shouldn't even call it a cartoon. That would sound degrading.

I agree with what you guys said about the film. It was superb! When I first heard about the film three years ago, I expected this from Disney. Maybe a little more, I guess. A darker jungle, chimps instead of gorillas, more humans, (A couple of black dudes too for God's sake! This was after all Africa!) and a more god-like Tarzan. Especially that last one. This Tarzan just felt too much like an optimistic, eager human. His senses weren't as sharp as the one we all read about. I always imagined the perfect Tarzan being the one Dark Horse comix continued their stories with. I guess Disney just wanted him to be more of someone whom you can relate to. They didn't "wussify" Tarzan, but they just made him seem like, I don't know, a Tarzan's-little-brother type figure. But the animal movements were dead on! His mimicry was fun to watch, as was his growing up. I LOVED the whole "Son of Man" sequence. How he starts out narrowly escaping the jaws of Gimla. Surfacing for air with duro. His mimicing of buto's actions. Fooling Histah and tying her up in knots. I especially loved the scenes where he and Tantor changed into adults and blow the termites out of their mound. And I died laughing when 5-year old Tarzan made Kerchak look like the Chiquita banana lady AND invented his spear simultaneously! This Tarzan was pretty damn cool.

Jane was perfect for the movie. It kind of pissed me off that all the other movie Janes were Brits whereas she was really American. But this British Jane changed all that! And you guys know what else? I HATED the book Jane after all! She was just a total snooty little biAtch! She hated the animals who raised Tarzan, whereas this one loved them, studied them and drew them. I love drawing as well. Another thing I liked was that she kept getting kinkier throughout the film! Started out in this bigass yellow dress. All the skin you could see was arm and face. Eh. Not hot, but pretty. Then she took a couple of hunded layers off the dress. Hmm, its a start. Showed more figue. Then A tank top and a really long skirt with a slit along the side. Showed some thigh. Yes yes! Now we're getting somewhere! Teased us for a little while by putting The big yellow dress back on. Damn! And ended up in a loincloth bikini. FINA-FRIGGIN-LLY!

The Mangani. Well, what can I say. I'm a little bit mad that they were gorillas and not Large Chimpanzees. This just had to do with Disneys little obsession with gorillas (Ape, MJY) when chimpanzees could have worked better on so many levels. First off, not many kids see adult chimpanzees. All we can think about are thoe cutesy little babies we see in commercials and stuff. Second, chimps lived in family groups, not gorillas. Gorilla tribes are just a silverback and all his wives. Chimps are also a lot more savage, you can make them look cartoonish and they'll still lok realistic, and they're more arboreal. Another thing, keep in mind that this IS an animated movie. Hell, Disney could have just drawn what looked like mixes between chimps and gorillas and just call them Apes or anthropoids as ERB did. Kala was dead on character. Thank God they didn't kill her off! I sometimes think that Kerchak would have made a better villain than Clayton. But if they did that it would have taken away so many of the scenes that I loved. Disney didn't totally mess up Terkoz when they made Terk as I originally thought they would. Terk wasn't that bad. She was quite enjoyable and very funny (Tarzan huh? Okay, he's YOUR baby)

Both Tantor and Porter were exaggerated versions of the book characters that they represented. Porter was a silly man and Tantor was a paranoid but loyal elephant. It was rather sad that Clayton had to be a villain. Disney didn't want to make it look like he was a villain right from the start. Sort of fool the audience there. And they failed miserably! They should have kept Clayton as he was, but just not a villain. Add Mr. Philander to the script and make him look like Porter's best friend. Have Clayton do the exact same stuff he did up until the mutiny on the Arrow. And as it would turn out, Philander was a villain who betrayed Porter right from the start 30 years ago, and Clayton was just actually a pretty cool jerk hunter who was really a good guy. That would really fool the audience!

Its obvious to me that Disney has a hell of a lot of respect for Tarzan of the Apes. Many things in the movie were just Disneyfied versions of what happened in the book.

Trashin the Camp was their fun little version of the DumDum. Think about it. Singing, dancing apes in a clearing out in the jungle. It was judt alot more fun. Young Tarzan putting mud on his face to look more like an ape. Kerchak feeling threatened by Tarzan (though for different reasons) Tarzan throwing the cacass of Sabor in front of Kerchak. Tarzan putting Terk(oz) in a headlock.

And there was a sort of suniminal explanation for why Tarzan always had a loincloth even when he thought he was an ape. Remember his diaper? It saved his life as a baby.

All in all, this was a great movie which should inspire a new generation of fans for the Ape Man, unlike that stupidass Lost City movie last year. May this movie be a classic and live on.

Ruffian NYC

I'll call this a review, but it really is more a history of me and this film, but it does include what I thought of it.

I first heard of Disney planning Tarzan in the Summer '96, a few weekes after Hunchback opened. There was an article in The New York Times, examing how Hunchback was such a rare film for Disney- dark, serious, and and in some ways sad. Of course, they related this to the films unsuccessful run at the box office. In the very last line of the article, it said something like : "But after Quasimodo, Disney is returning to its light, comedic roots: the next two films features are Hercules and Tarzan." So for quite awhile I expected Hercules and Tarzan to be two off-the-wall comedies. Not that I had a problem with that necessarily, it's just what I expected form them. Hercules matched my expectations almost exactly. Disney even billed it as a "comedy" in some of the early previews on video. And I thought it was fun, a simpy entertaining movie.

Then buzz began on Mulan, which I was surprised to hear would beat Tarzan to theaters. In late 97 (Herc's year), Mulan was being hyped as this dark, serious movie, a total coup for Disney. The first preview went a long way to establish that also. (The one with Mulan sitting out in the rain.) Of course, when it hit theaters, it was possible even more of a comedy than Hercules, since about half of the movie was dominated by Eddie Murphy.

In the Fall of 98, I attended a lecture by Roy Disney in New York, at which he showed clips of several upcoming Disney projects, including Fantasia 2000, Dinosaur, and most especially here, Tarzan. (If you'd like to hear about the rest, you can email me.)The clip was about twenty seconds long, and it was only Tarzan doing his tree maneuvering. It was truly the best looking animation that I had ever seen. On top of the visuals, Roy Disney seemed so thrilled to be presenting the clip (he also said how thrilled he was), that I felt he knew he had something special on his hands. I left the lecture ready to wait in line, based only on how it looked. At that point, I didn't care if was an animated George of the Jungle. If it looked that good throughout, it would easily be worth the $9.50.

After that, word began to spread on Tarzan, and it was getting similar hype as Mulan. But this time I was cautious, until Prince of Egypt came out. After that I knew that this had to be the real deal, they couldn't proclaim drama and then throw out comedy again, because Dreamworks had done drama, and well. So after Prince of Egypt my hopes were extremely high that Disney would counter with a superior feature, despite reading Aint-It-Cool-News. For me, not only did Tarzan offer somthing different in Disney movies, but it offered some of the great aspects of my favorite Disney films. Namely, The Jungle Book and The Lion King. I'm not really an "animal person," if you know what I mean, but I guess I just really like when they are animated. (I also love Balto and The Rescuers Down Under) Maybe it's because its easier to capture the majesty and beauty of animals in animation thatn it is for humans. The way Scar shoulder blades spike up on each step, or the agility of Bagheera bounding through the trees. So Tarzan offered both a step forward and a step back.

In February I started reading Burroughs' "Tarzan of the Apes," and I found it captivating. I enjoy reading, but when I read my goal is usually to finish the book, so I can know how it ends. With Tarzan, I wished I could add more pages, because I got closer to the end, I began to dread it more and more. Burroughs descriptions' of Tarzan's tree gliding was so engrossing, that I could truly picture it, with the help of the clip I saw. I also didn't feel the need to reach the end because I knew how it ended. Tarzan gets the girl, he just has to. I felt safe that the bpook would end with a passionate kiss between Jane and the Ape-man. I don't want to ruin it for anyone who hasn't read it, but it doesn't end how you'd expect. And I was both heartbroken and thrilled by the ending.

So based on what I heard about the film, the unbelievable reviews it had received, the clip I saw with Roy Disney, and the great source material, I figured that it wouldn't be able to stand up to my expectations. I was wrong. Completely, utterly and totally wrong.

This movie shattered my expectations. In truth, after one viewing, I cannot find a single flaw in the film. I'm sure they're there, and there may be a bunch, but I don't care. Because I loved this movie so much on the first time. I wish I could keep it on non-stop for the next week.

I liked this movie more than The Lion King. I cannot even tell you what it is about the movie, but I do know that I had a gigantic smile on my face every time Tarzan flew threw the trees, and I basically cried for Kala, and I know I was teary-eyed when he pounded his chest in the finale.

I'll try to remain objective now, as I examine the film a bit more closely.

Terk, Tantor, and Archimedes Q. Porter: I had absolutely no problem with any of them. To compare Terk to the Gargoyles would be a crime against humanity. Terk had a character, a subplot of his own, an emotional hook. And his comedy wasn't obtrusive, it was much more subtle than I expected. The same goes for Tantor, who had less of a subplot than Terk, but he was still a well-defined character, and a perfect counterpart to Terk. While Terk builds walls to hide his emotions, Tantor tries to break them down. I loved Porter, because he was dead-on to his character in the book. Bumbling along and rambling incoherently IS funny, and he was not overused at all, and even he was able to get a small subplot.

Trashin' the Camp: It wasn't necessary, but I don't think it detracted from the film. I would always skip over that track on the soundtrack, and I probably still will, but on screen it was more catchy.

Clayton: Many say he was flat, but whoever made the point about him being a stereotype is making a great point. We don't need a soliloquy from him to know he's a bad guy. We've seen so many villains, so when we see the blocky cheek bones, and the short mustache, we know he's up to no good. And this story isn't about battling villains, it's about Tarzan, so any very dynamic villain would take away from Tarzan's spotlight.

The Music: So perfect.

Jane: I loved her. Not only is she the best looking Disney female ever, but she further advanced the action of women in Disney features. Megara started it, as a wise-cracking an cynical character. I think Mulan took a step back, since her lines were totally standard. But Jane, oh, Jane, she combined humor and emotion, and her bond with Tarzan is, in my opinion, the best developed romance Disney has ever made. Which is syaing a lot, considerig they don't speak for the first half of the movie.

So now the question is, why does this movie rank higher for me than The Lion King. I thought about it for a while, and I've come up with this: Tarzan is a human. Even though I love animated animals, I could never truly see myself as Simba. But Tarzan is a man, but he still gets to live in the jungle, with the animals. He gets to look like a man, and still be an animal. What could be better than that? Only one thing: Love, and he got that too.

All in all, I am so proud of the people at Disney for making this movie everything I hoped it would be. This is a case of taking advantage of great potential.

And that's all I have to say about that, until Fantasia 2000...

C.E.O Ruffian Enterprises Inc.

Robert "Tarak" Woodley

This movie is almost perfect; and this is from a Tarzan purist. I've thought about it quite a bit. Elmo and I discussed it in detail on several occasions while we were holed up in our smoky cave on the Penthouse floor, and some of those discussions actually took place after we had seen the movie. We were both rabid fans of the trailers, so we tended to discuss things like newspaper ads and billboards until we actually got to see the film.

This movie is primarily for children. It is, after all, a Disney animated film. Tarzan of the Apes, as Tangor has written, is not for children; or at least not for many young children. While I lament the exclusion of the savagery of my Tarzan of the Apes, it is true that his story is a bit too savage for kids who go to Disney movies. The mangani, also, are not savage, except for Kerchak. Again, irritating as this would seem to be, I had little problem with it in this film.

This Tarzan does however have moments of savagery, and expressions which depict it. His battle with Sheetah (Sabor) is just wondrous to watch. You've seen parts of it in the trailers. The entire sequence is just stunning to see. And savage, too. There are other scenes where he displays moments of the true Tarzan; and frankly this Tarzan is more savage than any I've seen in the movies.

He is an animal in this film. Only "Greystoke" captured a bit of this essential aspect of Tarzan of the Apes. This film does it throughout. The screenwriters discussed this when they spoke to us prior to the screening. I had noticed and discussed it in my reviews of the trailers. His movements, whether on the ground or in the trees, capture Tarzan of the Apes as I've always envisioned him. This was one of my greatest delights.

This film also tells the story of Tarzan as no other film has ever done.

The film opens with spectacular visual effects. It just grabs you right from the get-go and you utter your first "Wow!" almost immediately. You haven't seen these scenes yet. Wait till you do. Whew. They do change the facts, but for this type of movie their facts are actually better, more exciting, and the changes are pretty irrelevant as to the story itself.

In the beginning of the film the terror and suffering of being stranded in an African jungle are perfectly displayed in the eyes of Lady Alice; and by the visuals and sound.

Then we meet Kala. You've seen parts of her meeting with the ape-infant, but when she tells Kerchak that she "saved him from Sabor", she wasn't kidding. The sequence where she saves the baby from Sheetah is riveting; yet through it all the baby Tarzan is just having the time of his life, wholly happy that he isn't alone, and this Tarzan truly knows no fear. You'll understand when you watch it. His demeanor softens the savagery of this scene for the kids, and I think this was perfectly done. We have seen Kala lose her baby to Sheetah, and feel for her, and for the infant. Their meeting is quite moving.

Frankly, I just couldn't help but watch him and think, "This is truly the stuff ape-men grow from."

We've seen some of the scenes where she brings him back to the mangani. There is some great humor as well as moments of incredible beauty in these scenes. One of the ape-children's comments on his name was great.

The growing Tarzan is very engaging, and really doesn't seem to take up much time. Again, they bring in the important aspects of the books. His difference from the others; his frustration with his lesser abilities and rejection by some and by Kerchak. And finally, his growing arboreal skills as his lighter, swifter body begins to use the trees while the mangani walk below. It is the child who is swinging in that scene from the trailer while the apes walk below, not the adult Tarzan. I don't know how they could have depicted this aspect of ERB's Tarzan any better, and the love between the boy and Kala is very moving.

The presence of man in the grown Tarzan's jungle is appropriately announced by the sound of a gunshot.

We meet Jane, and Huck. I kept referring to AQP as Huck when I discussed this movie. Ah, well.

Jane is superb. She is clearly a 1990's girl rather than ERB's Jane, but ERB's Jane was far ahead of her time, as were most of his heroines, and for todays's generations she is perfect. She is so cute and so feisty that she is irresistible. Minnie Driver makes her truly unique among Disney heroines, visually and otherwise. The growing love between her and Tarzan is just perfectly done. She is everything one could want in a girl, and a bit more than even the ape-man can handle.

Porter is a fun character. Clayton is a relatively ordinary Disney villain. Very different from any Clayton we might recall, but again, this is perfect; because this is Tarzan and Jane's story. They are the centerpiece of this film, with Kala hovering in the background. It sure didn't bother me that they don't kill Kala in this film. I'm not sure I could have accepted that, books or no books, and the kids certainly couldn't.

The scene where Terk and his/her buddies trash the camp is of course just plain silly. However, I didn't mind it as much as I had feared, perhaps because I knew it was coming. Also, the kids enjoyed it and it would give a fan the opportunity to go get some popcorn or something, so I have no problem with it. I wasn't going to miss one second of this film, even if Disney had offered popcorn.

Then we have the music and the visuals. What we have seen is of course there, and much, much more. Sequences we've never seen are just magnificent. We've seen just about all the tree surfing, so the anti-surfers can rest easy. There is some vine work which is truly beautiful on several occasions.

The jungle itself is as much a star as is Tarzan of the Apes. This is by far the most beautiful animated film ever made. The colors; the three-dimensional backgrounds; the fluid, lightning movements of Tarzan; the beautiful sequences where Tarzan and Jane are swinging on vines in love; etc; etc., set against the background of Phil Collins songs and music are just dazzling to experience.

As one scene after another opened, I just sat there and kept saying "Wow!"

I laughed along with the young girls who were sitting in front of us at the cute stuff and just sat there in stunned disbelief as my Tarzan leaped and whirled and flew and fought and wholly captivated me for about 85 minutes at Disney Studios. This film is absolutely perfect from beginning to end, ERB or no ERB. It is such an animated masterpiece that it wouldn't surprise me if it got nominated for Best Picture.

I can only hope that the rest of the World loves it half as much as did the tawny-haired barbarian.


Jeff Long

I'm sure that the Disney folks breathed something of a sigh of relief when the end-credits started rolling and we all erupted into solid applause, hoots and hollers. I wanted to jump to my feet, but was so amazed by the experience that I just had to sit back for a moment and take it all in. Certainly Disney needs no approval from us. They'll make a bundle on this movie. But I give them a ton of credit for opening their doors to the crowd that would be most critical of their three-year effort.

I've always said that if I can find one moment in a Tarzan movie or TV series that "feels" like ERB's Tarzan, I come away happy. This movie has dozens of those moments, so I came away ecstatic. It is, in my view, the best Tarzan movie ever made. (I know. That's not saying much. But I've always kind of liked the movies, on very different levels than I love the books. I can separate the two. The thing about Disney's movie is that you don't have to do much separating.)

From the very first frame on the screen, I was hooked and astounded by this movie. I'll annoy some purists, I'm sure, but the shipwreck here works better than a mutiny. It's so dramatic and intense that it keeps you right at the edge of your seat. Astounding animation here, much more "realistic" than we'll see later in the movie.

Actually, since we get no back-story at all about what led to the shipwreck, perhaps there was a mutiny. That might explain why the ship was engulfed in flames.

The look of terror in Lady Alice's eyes as her husband lowers her and the baby away in the lifeboat toward the most menacing sea you can imagine just captures perfectly the enormity of their situation. And Lord Greystoke is so heroic here -- much, much more like ERB envisioned than we've ever seen before. In Greystoke, Clayton was kind of foppish, I thought. Here, he is truly the father of Tarzan. Their situation is desperate, but you immediately know that this is a husband and father who will do everything in his power to keep his wife and baby safe.

In the jungle, however, that's not always enough -- no matter how heroic the effort. ERB really painted the loneliness of this well. "O, Alice!" Disney equals the task. Whenever I come to this in TOA, or Greystoke, or Hogarth's adaptation, I keep having to remind myself that it's all neccesary for Tarzan to become Tarzan. It breaks my heart, though, every time that it's done well.

The "Two Worlds" sequence is so well done that I wish ERB would have given us more of this; more about Kala's maternal instincts, and love for her own little balu. It sets the stage for why she was so anxious to replace her loss with the human child, and it sets the stage for the story that Disney wants to tell.

I like the story that Disney tells. To me, it's the natural story at the heart of the entire Tarzan epic: Am I beast or man? And Disney tells this story so beautifully that I can't imagine anyone not being enthralled by it.

Tarak said there wasn't enough of the "savage" side of Tarzan in this movie. I disagree. I saw more of that in this movie than any other Tarzan movie made -- which is surprising, when you realize this is Disney. His fight with Sabor is just loaded with feral menace. The look in his eyes. The way he crouches and claws and growls. It is much more "ERB-realistic" than anything we saw in Greystoke. The same goes for Tarzan's fight with Kerchak.

The Kerchak in this movie is not the Kerchak we know from ERB. But I like what they did with him. And talk about savage! This is a mangani you don't want to anger. The underlying theme here, which is very true to ERB, is that the mangani want nothing to do with Tarzan, because he is different -- except for Kala, of course. Kerchak embodies that. And I like how protective Kerchak is toward his tribe. He serves as a good role model for Tarzan about what it is to *be* a mangani king -- something ERB's Tarzan never really had.

Here's where I agree with Tarak: If they had killed Kala in this movie, I would have been devastated. Disney got Kala so right it brings a tear to my eye. I guess maybe Disney decided never to kill off moms after they did that in Bambi. Kids would probably end up in therapy if they killed Kala.

So. You get the idea that I liked this movie. A couple moments I *really* loved:

-- Tarzan covering himself in mud, and Kala explaining to him that it's not what you see, it's what you feel. The whole hand-and-heart image in this movie is really powerful.

-- Terk and Tantor. I liked 'em. Sue me. They were funny (if you keep a kid's perspective on things.) ERB had Esmeralda, Disney has Terk. So, what's the difference? Emotionally constipated, indeed. (When the elephants charge through the mangani after the "hair incident," I love the comments from the little apes: "I didn't do it!") Another thing: Someone asked the screenwriters why they made Terk a female? I didn't get the impression Terk was supposed to be female. Rosie's voice could go either way. (And Rosie, too. ... Sorry.)

-- The baboon chase and the first meeting for Tarzan and Jane. Whew!

-- Jane trying to describe to Huck (AQP) about Tarzan. Very funny. Very endearing. She's in love.

-- When Jane is saddened because the little bird she was looking at flew away. Tarzan lifts her, beautifully (and somewhat erotically), into the upper terraces where there are thousands of birds for her to play with.

-- The sequence where the Porters teach Tarzan about civilization. Using a slide-projector was inspired, especially the image of Tarzan standing before the picture of a city.

-- Tarzan trying to escape from the hold of Clayton's ship. Truly an interesting (if bizarre) twist on the old Weismuller movies, where the elephants come to the rescue.


P.S. OJT suggested at lunch the possibility of a Best Picture nomination. I think it's definitely possible. Imagine! A Tarzan movie nominated for Best Picture. What would that do to renew interest in ERB?

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