“The Legend of Tarzan” opened July 1 to decidedly so-so reviews, scoring just 43 on MetaCritic and 34% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes. Suffice it to say this doesn’t look like a Best Picture contender at the Oscars. But how does it compare to other “Tarzan” movies? Hollywood has a long history of adapting the story of the title jungle hero, created by author Edgar Rice Burroughs in his novel “Tarzan of the Apes” in 1912.
The first film adaptation was nearly a century ago, in 1918’s “Tarzan of the Apes” starring Elmo Lincoln in the title role. The role was later played in a string of films by Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Johnny Weissmuller from 1932-1948. After he departed the role, the famous loincloth was filled by a variety of actors, including Lex Barker (1949-1953), bodybuilder Gordon Scott (1955-1960) and football pro Mike Henry (1966-1968), to name a few.
In more recent history, “Tarzan, the Ape Man” (1981) re-introduced the character to movie audiences, though he might have been better off gone. The film was universally panned and earned a Razzie nomination for Worst Picture. Leading lady Bo Derek won Worst Actress as Tarzan’s love interest Jane, tying with Faye Dunaway‘s infamous turn in “Mommie Dearest.”
Later films were much better received. 1984’s “Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes” not only avoided the Razzie infamy of its predecessor, it actually earned three Oscar nominations: Best Supporting Actor (Ralph Richardson, as the Sixth Earl of Greystoke), Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Makeup. Then Disney produced the blockbuster animated film “Tarzan” in 1999 with Tony Goldwyn voicing the role; it won an Oscar for Phil Collins‘s original song “You’ll Be in My Heart.”
The current version stars “True Blood” alum Alexander Skarsgard as Tarzan and Margot Robbie as Jane. They’re joined by an impressive cast and crew that includes co-stars Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson, as well as director David Yates, best known for helming the last four films in the “Harry Potter” franchise and the Emmy-winning telefilm “The Girl in the Cafe.” Yates also has the reins of the upcoming “Potter” spin-off “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” starring Eddie Redmayne.
So will “The Legend of Tarzan” be nominated for Oscars, Razzies, both or neither? Discuss this film and more in our forums.