The Legend of Tarzan (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

The Legend of Tarzan 4K ReviewThe Legend of Tarzan feels like a film that was set up to fail from the very start.  How much interest is there really with a modern day telling of Tarzan where your leading man sports blonde locks?  The trailers were personally satisfying, but something about it just reeked of stay away to me.  That’s why I never saw this one theatrically.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I love me some Alexander Skarsgard.  I grew up watching and adoring him as Eric in True Blood and his casting here had absolutely nothing to do with my staying away from this property theatrically.  Admittedly so I’m not much of a Tarzan fan.  I could care less really.  However, that state of mind all changed after seeing Suicide Squad this past August.  I realized something about The Legend of Tarzan I failed to initially see.  Margot Robbie is in this one!  Hello, Jane!  Me Tarzan!

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Tarzan (AKA The King of the Jungle), the legendary character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, returns here in 2016 with The Legend of Tarzan.  David Yates (the final four Harry Potter films and upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) directs The Legend of Tarzan from a screenplay by Adam Cozad and Craig Brewer.  In addition to Alexander and Margot the ensemble cast stars Oscar nominee Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction), Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond), Oscar winner Jim Broadbent (Iris), and two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained).  So say what you will about this film, but you can’t mutter it’s short on Oscar star talent.

Unlike your traditional Tarzan film that you’re accustomed to seeing our feature here starts out post jungle (8 years to be exact).  This story is not the typical re-telling or reboot of the origin of Tarzan like so many other movies that have been made before. Instead we are introduced to a world where it has been years since the man once known as Tarzan (Skarsgård) left the jungles of Africa behind for a civilized life as John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, with his lovely wife, Jane (Robbie) at his side.  In our new world he has been invited back to the Congo to serve as a trade emissary of Parliament (a marketing promotion so to speak), unaware of the danger that truly lurks.  Tarzan becomes a pawn in a deadly convergence of greed and revenge, masterminded by the Belgian, Leon Rom (Waltz).  It’s up to Tarzan to save the day with a little help from his friends, animals and tribes alike and bring peace back to his beloved Congo region.

Before we discuss what there is to like about this reboot of a legend I want to dish on the casting of Skarsgård in this titular role.  I must admit that when I saw the first trailers for this film I was very conflicted and skeptical of it all.  They seemed to promise me a good time, but Alexander Skarsgård as the legendary, vine swinging Tarzan?  Come on!  He’s Eric from True Blood.  He’s a vampire not a jungle man.  He’s typecast.  Little did I know there’s more depth to Alexander than just his pale, pasty skin and good looks.  He brought both physicality and conflict to the role.  In other words he embodied the part and through his non verbal takes and the long camera holds on him he was able to express his pain and conflict of a life 99.9% of us would have never survived left to die in the jungle as a baby.  So he was believable, that much I can confidently say.

The rest of the cast was spot on too.  I think pretty much every guy went into this wanting to see all they could of their beloved Harley Quinn.  She doesn’t disappoint because overtime she speaks I just hear Harley Quinn.  Ha ha.  However, much to my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed the comedic moments that Samuel L. Jackson provides and the villainous traits Waltz brings to his part.  I dare to say it, but he was a lot more menacing in this one than he was in last year’s Spectre.  Sad, huh?  Absolutely!  Finally, what else can I say about Djimon Hounsou that I have not said already in past reviews of other flicks he stars in?  He’s great in everything he does.  Let’s just leave it at that.

So I have to admit that I had fun with this one.  The story was deep, touching and entertaining.  The actors made me believe the stakes were real despite all the CG around them, animals and scenery alike.  I like the approach they took here not going with a traditional origin story, but fret not because we’re connected with the past with well placed flashbacks.  If you can let yourself go of the audaciousness of it all here, I think you’ll find a tale to boldly stand behind.  It’s a bit like the new Planet of the Apes meets a very cheesy Indiana Jones-like adventure, but underneath it all it’s all heart with no advanced technology.  It’s also a bit choppy (scrip-wise like something is missing) and completely ridiculous at times, but the core nucleus of the tale is heart warming.  You find yourself rooting for Tarzan even though you already know going in that he’s going to come out victorious.  He’s Tarzan after all.  He’s un-killable.  At least Skarsgård fits the role with his hulking size.  Therefore, it’s a tad more believable when an ape beats the living crap out of him.  Ha ha.  Come on people.  Eat a Twizzler or a Red “Vine” and have fun with this one.  The CG jungle looks amazing by the way.

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The below video score and related critique of things here are based solely upon my viewing of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of The Legend of Tarzan.

  • Encoding: HEVC / H.265
  • Resolution: 4K (2160p)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Clarity/Detail: This one is far from being the prettiest looking 4K Ultra HD presentation I have seen.  There’s a lot of soft shots, shadows, mist and CG throughout making it feel flat at times.  However, when detail is present its prevalent from textures in rocks and military uniforms to the stubble on Tarzan’s chin, pores in the actors’ faces, hair on the apes’ bodies and whatnot.  Some of the best examples of fine detail were the straw roofs on the huts in the Congo and the blades of grass that surround them under the gleaming and warming sun.
  • Depth: Because of the flatness at times this one does not exhibit that three-dimensional pop I like to witness on 4K UHD or Blu-ray for that matter.  However, there are brilliant moments of depth like in the beginning where the cannons are all lined up and close ups of actors exchanging dialog as the scenery behind them are blurred.  Much to my surprise though the sweeping landscapes of the virtual jungle present many the shots to gaze upon and gander for endless miles.  I can’t complain there.
  • Black Levels: Despite the darkness and many shadows detail still prevails, but that also means the black levels are not the inkiest and/or deepest that people yearn to see on the format.  There are some scenes where you get lost into the fond deep black levels we love like where Tarzan sits down in the back of the coach in the beginning, but otherwise this one has a more natural, shadowy look to it all.
  • Color Reproduction: While the colors were very natural and authentic they did carry a bit of murkiness to it all, but that’s because so much of this feature is covered in shadows, mist and rain.  However, when the sun shines, so does this 4K’s color palette. Those moments were few and far between though.  The flames and fiery moments looked like a million bucks though, nothing fake looking about them.
  • Flesh Tones: The temperatures and skin tones of the actors all seemed natural and authentic throughout the presentation here.
  • Noise/Artifacts: There are some moments of noise in the presentation, but its very few and far between and nothing that made me say oh yuck.  The murkiness of it all is what did me in from awarding this section a higher score.

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Like I mentioned up above in the video section, the below audio score and critical comments of such are based solely upon my viewing of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of The Legend of Tarzan.  Warner Bros. did not skimp in the audio department here.  Both the 4K UHD disc and the regular 1080p Blu-ray come armed with a Dolby Atmos height surround track.

  • Audio Format(s): EnglishDolby Atmos, English Descriptive Audio 5.1, Dench (Quebec) Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish (Castilian & Latin) Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
  • Dynamics: The Legend of Tarzan seems like it would be a no-brainer in the action-adventure part of the surround track, but it’s the quieter, heartfelt moments that the sweeping score and dynamics of it all suck me in here.  Nothing gets lost in this surround track.  I just wish the jungle came to life just slightly more than it does.  I do like how pretty and authentic the puddles sound as Waltz tip toes through them to rescue Jane from the apes.
  • Height: There weren’t many moments that made me take notice of the Atmos height channels, but examples found here consist of the following: spears flying down from overhead, rain falling, explosions, Tarzan diving down from above to swing off a vine and more.
  • Low Frequency Extension: When activated, the LFE channel is strong, aggressive and thunderous here.  Examples of when it comes to life include cannons blasting, gun shots, machine guns, apes pummeling everything, animals stampeding, the drums in the score and more.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: The rear channels are where this surround track shines for me.  I love hearing all the little nuances behind me.  Apes, spears, score, atmosphere, bullets zinging by from behind and even the song, “The Legend of Tarzan,” being sung by the Congo tribe all resonate and playfully come from behind to immerse you.  However, one example in particular made me say oh wow.  There was one rescue scene where Tarzan stealthily sneaks  up and literally runs from the right rear channel to the left one.  It just felt so real like he really did run behind me.  You’ll have to hear it for yourself I guess.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is clear, intelligible and pronounced throughout.  Every time I heard Margot speak I just thought there’s my Harley.  LOL.

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The Legend of Tarzan 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray set features an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the feature in 4K with HDR and a Digital HD copy of the film redeemable at your favorite UltraViolet retailer (redeems in UHD at VUDU).  The included Blu-ray disc also features the movie in 1080p Hi-Definition plus the below extras.  And that ladies and gentlemen is my segue into what I want to briefly talk about down below.  I want you all to know what to expect here in way of supplemental features sadly without any audio commentaries.

  • Tarzan Reborn (HD, 15:10) – This one finds the cast and crew fondly remembering all the incarnations, interpretations and lore of Tarzan.  The cast and crew also discuss the story here and why they decided it should be rebooted, differently here of course.  You’ll find a lot of scenes from the film interspersed between cast and crew interviews throughout discussing the story at hand here.  It kind of feels like they are trying to sell us on this tale and that it’s alright.  Ha ha.  I do like how they talked about why they decided to go with Alexander for the titular role and all the training he had to undergo to build up for this role.  He even had a mobile gym on site to get that pump look for scenes.  I love it!
  • Battles and Bare Knuckled Brawls (HD) – This extra is actually broken into three separate segments as discussed down below here.
    • Tarzan vs. Akut (HD, 5:15) -This one finds the filmmakers and cast discussing in detail the fight scene between Tarzan and his ape brother, Akut.  We get treated to storyboards, behind-the-scenes training on set and various interviews.
    • Boma Stampede (HD, 4:53) – This one is obviously about the final act in the film where all the jungle animals storm the port in Boma.  Like you would expect, we start with the storyboards here and then move onto the CG and post production.
    • Train Ambush (HD, 4:57) – This one chats about the most humorous scene for me where Tarzan and friends hijack a train.  It sounds easy, huh?  Wait!  This one is all about diving from the trees and swinging off of vines to land on a moving train.  Interesting, huh?  I thought so. They even discuss how they made the tree branches here.  There’s also a brawl on the train too featuring Tarzan dropping a lot of small Belgian soldiers.
  • Tarzan and Jane’s Unfailing Love (HD, 6:01) – The cast and crew discuss the romance between Tarzan and Jane.  Margot talks about how she loves this story and the fact that Tarzan will go to the end of the Earth to save his love makes her giddy.  Alexander and Margot loved working with each other.  Alexander put it simply how can you not have chemistry with Margot.  LOL.  There’s more to this one, but I don’t want to spoil everything.  All I’ll say is they go into how the story starts here and where these two are when we first start out.
  • Creating The Virtual Jungle (HD, 15:16) – I bet you could guess what this one is all about, huh?  The cast and crew talk about the challenges of shooting on location in the jungles of Africa.  They go into all the reasons as to why they did not shoot in Africa, but opted for filming in London.  Yep, you read it right.  The filmmakers basically played God here and discussed how they could build what they wanted rather than not being able to do it in the real world.  It’s simply amazing what they can do in the studio and on the lots there too.  Nothing is what it seems here at all.  If you want to enjoy the scenery of this film again, I’d probably stay away from knowing it all in this extra.
  • Gabon To The Big Screen (HD, 2:28) – This one is all about the rainforests of Gabon and the protection of the elephants there.  This quick featurette also examines the different take on Tarzan here as well as the jungle.  It’s kind of a two-for-one extra so to speak.
  • Stop Ivory (HD, 1:30) – This PSA finds Alexander and Margot talking about the delicate balance of the smallest animals in nature to the protection of the largest ones, elephants.  They ask to you to help stop the ivory trade in its tracks.

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In summary I guess you could say The Legend of Tarzan is like a mixed bag of nuts.  There’s comedy, action, adventure, ridiculousness and heart (seeing apes die is heartbreaking any day of the week) all mixed into one finished product.  The story is not anything new and the 4K Ultra HD presentation is by far not the best I have seen this year, but there’s something about this film after two viewings now (on both optical formats included here) that makes me a mild fan of it all.  It’s different and not your typical reboot of a “legendary” franchise.  Your results may vary and that’s all I’ll say on the matter.  Enjoy!


DISCLAIMER: This 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray review was judged and graded using the following 4K certified A/V gear found here.  Make sure to check out all out 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray reviews archived here.


Look out for that tree!

The Legend of Tarzan Swung

onto 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

October 4th!




The Legend of Tarzan 4K Blu-ray Cover


Tarzan Infographic


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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