Since his debut on the pages of a 1912 magazine, Edgar Rice Burroughs’s fictional ape man has swung into the affections of successive generations thanks to re-imaginings on the small and big screens.
Former Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller famously portrayed the heroic king of the jungle during the 1930s and 1940s flanked by his plucky chimpanzee sidekick Cheeta.
And most recently, Disney immortalised literary myth as an animation feature, a short-lived Broadway musical, spin-off TV series and video games.
Now it falls to German filmmaker Reinhard Klooss to put a distinctly modern spin on Burroughs’s source text.
Don’t be misled by the colourful visuals of this computer-animated adventure and early scenes of comical monkey business. This adaptation isn’t a cutesy caper aimed predominantly at children. Tragedy stalks every frame and a couple of sequences, which result in the demise of pivotal characters, could be too scary for the very young.
To enforce the film’s modern sensibilities, a rousing burst of Coldplay’s anthem Paradise accompanies Tarzan and Jane’s romantic swim, replete with longing glances as the protagonists splash about in the water.
John Greystoke (voiced by Mark Deklin) ventures deep into the jungle with his wife Alice (Jaime Ray Newman) and their young son to search for the impact site of an ancient meteorite, which is rumoured to possess immense power.
By chance, as the Greystokes leave the jungle in their helicopter, they stumble upon the meteorite but magnetic interference propels the craft into the mountainside, killing everyone on board except the young Greystoke heir.
The child is rescued and raised by apes and is rechristened Tarzan.
As an adult, Tarzan (now voiced by Kellan Lutz) encounters humans once again when beautiful environmentalist Jane Porter (Spencer Locke) arrives in the jungle with William Clayton (Trevor St John), the Machiavellian new CEO of Greystoke Energies.
Tarzan is a slick yet unsatisfying reworking that struggles to marry the legend with a perplexing subtext about mankind’s unsustainable depletion of the earth’s resources.
Lutz beats his chest on cue to deliver his hero’s iconic cry and stilted dialogue including: “Me Tarzan, you Jane”.
An unhappy marriage of something old, something new – that leaves us feeling blue.