During an expedition to discover the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs, scientist James Porter and industrialist John Greystoke explore the African jungle for clues to its whereabouts. Instead, they discover and inadvertently set off a nearby volcano, causing the everyone to perishes apart from Greystoke’s young son, J.J. Taken in by a recently bereaved female gorilla and renaming himself ‘Tarzan’ the young man spends many years in the jungle living among the gorillas. However, when James Porter’s daughter, Jane, arrives to see her father, Tarzan begins to remember his old life and nothing will ever be the same for him again.

Tarzan (2014) – Director: Reinhard Klooss

Is Tarzan (2014) appropriate for kids?

Rating: PG

Running Length: 94 mins

Starring: Kellan Lutz, Spencer Locke, Les Bubb

Genre: Animated, Drama

REVIEW

Based on the classic novel ‘Tarzan of the Apes’ by Edgar Rice Burroughs, ‘Tarzan’ is the latest adaptation. A young man raised by gorillas finds out who he really is; torn between his desire for human contact and wanting to remain and protect his ‘family’. Unlike most animated children’s movies, especially Disney’s 1999 version, ‘Tarzan’ chooses a darker and more adult tone. While a few of the animals are anthropomorphised to some extent, generally speaking, they do behave naturally which is an unusally brave move when audiences often expect the animals to be talking and expressing very human emotions.

A lot of criticism has been aimed at the animation which is not to the same standard as you would expect from large companies like Pixar and Dreamworks. However, not all animation companies have the same budgets and while the visuals in ‘Tarzan’ are good, audiences must accept that they may not be perfect. It has to be said that children rarely notice or care about the standard of animation and therefore it is more of an issue for the adults who are watching.

What is refreshing for this kind of movie is that the animals are treated with respect and are not used for the audience’s amusement. For instance, Tarzan comes across a snake that tries to bite him but he stops it and gently wraps its body around a branch. Other movies would have Tarzan throw the snake far away or tie its body around the branch in a knot which would expect to get some laughs at the expense of an animal that is simply behaving the way it would naturally.

Other than a few plot threads which are introduced but ultimately go no-where, ‘Tarzan’ is a very entertaining and watchable movie which slightly older kids are likely to enjoy as long as the story is surprisingly grown-up in tone.

IS ‘TARZAN (2014)’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

There are several animal deaths in the movie including a gorilla who is hit hard over the head with a rock. Its mate sits by the body and whimpers while others look on anxiously. Another young gorilla is killed when it falls to its death off a cliff, its mother tries to help but is unable to save it. The camera focuses on the mother’s stricken face so the death is not actually seen. Another gorilla is shot when it runs towards a human.

The deaths of the Greystoke parents and their helicopter pilot is handled sensitively but realistically. There is no suffering and the crash is seen from a long distance but just before the crash, when they realise that they are about to die, John Greystoke turns to his wife and says ‘Forgive me’.

There is also some animal violence. Towards the beginning of the movie, a ‘loner’ gorilla is established as very aggressive. It is very threatening and there are a few scenes where it fights other gorillas and Tarzan which are very intense. Around half-way through the movie, Tarzan acquires a knife which he uses in his fights with this gorilla. He usually uses it more to threaten and deter but he does slash the gorilla’s torso once although this does not result in any sever suffering or death.

There are also a few times when animals are violent towards humans. Several large flightless birds chase a teenage boy through the jungle. While this boy is very obnoxious and to some extent ‘deserves’ this as a punishment, the birds are relentless and mean to do him harm. In order to help him, a teenage girl gets their attention and is also chased. She becomes stuck against a tree with the birds approaching her when a character manages to stop them, however while this is happening a snake bites the girl causing her to walk around in a daze before collapsing in the forest.

A huge crocodile tries to bite the foot of a character who is unconscious nearby. Tarzan grabs its tail and pulls it underwater where the two wrestle violently. After around 20 seconds, Tarzan removes the knife from his loin cloth and holds it above his head. The camera focuses on this while Tarzan brings the blade swiftly downwards, indicating but not showing that he has stabbed the crocodile. A short while later, Tarzan and the now conscious character are together when (presumably) the same crocodile lunges towards them from some bushes, Tarzan shouts and the animal quickly retreats. Therefore, while the crocodile was injured by Tarzan, it was not fatally wounded.

While Jane and Tarzan are exploring the jungle, they come across an animal-like plant which has long vines that grab hold of both characters. Suddenly, a huge head that has a large mouth with sharp teeth rises up from the ground and attempts to eat Jane. Tarzan uses his knife to slash at the vines and the head to save Jane and after several seconds, the head of the plant collapses to the floor.

Jane, as an adult, visits her father in the jungle and Tarzan secretly watches her. This is mostly out of innocent curiosity and fascination. He sneaks into her tent and picks up several of her belongings including a bra although he doesn’t seem to understand what it is. He leaves her tent before she returns but watches her from the shadows. She puts a light on and he can see her silhouette; just before she begins to undress, she turns out the light which hides her silhouette and Tarzan lets out a snort of irritation.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?

VERDICT

The 2014 version of ‘Tarzan’ is an unusual mix of adult tone and child-like animation and storytelling. While some may dislike the darker atmosphere, it is a refreshing change from the more childish animations that are prevalent at the moment. We feel that the content of this movie should be appropriate for kids aged 6 and over but due to the more grown-up feel to the movie, it may be more appealing to slightly older children of around 8 or 9 years old.

  • Violence: 3/5
  • Emotional Distress: 2/5 (as an adult, Tarzan comes across the wreck of a helicopter and realises that this is where his parents died. He becomes upset when he remembers that his mother promised to never leave him behind and shouts out in anguish)
  • Fear Factor: 2/5 (there are several intense scenes that could be distressing for younger viewers, however these scenes do not last very long)
  • Sexual Content: 2/5 (while held as a hostage, Jane is approached by a male character who strokes her face and says ‘hello love, I just wanted to say goodbye’ in a menacing manner)         
  • Bad Language: 1/5 (some mild blasphemy, one character begins a curse word (‘oh sh-‘) but it is cut off before the word is actually said)
  • Dialogue: 1/5 (one character says ‘this place blows’ and another says ‘it’s a jungle, not a pick-up bar’)
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of family, loss, obsession, animal behaviour, human nature, respect for the natural world, curiosity and discovering the core of your humanity.
  • For those with an aversion to such things, there are close-ups of snakes, spiders and bats.

Words by Laura Record

Tarzan [Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray] [2014]


New From: £4.24 GBP In Stock

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