‘The Legend of Tarzan’ review: Lord of the Jungle gets new lease on life

Characters like Tarzan are timeless for a reason — there’s something primal about them.

The Legend of Tarzan

Directed by David Yates

Starring Alexander Skarsgård, Margot Robbie, Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz

Rated PG-13

The Lord of the Jungle gets a new lease on life in the new live-action adventure flick “The Legend of Tarzan,” which uses ultramodern filming techniques to turn out an old-school adventure.

Director David Yates, who helmed the last four “Harry Potter” films as well as the upcoming prequel “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them,” has created a lush, fully imagined environment with full accompaniment of animals for an epic spectacle.

Alexander Skarsgård plays John Clayton, aka Tarzan, who is living in England with his wife Jane (Margot Robbie, in a strong, empowered role). Raised in the jungle by apes, he’s happy to be far away from it, though he’s quickly ushered back, joined by Jane and George Washington Williams, a real-life figure (played energetically by Samuel L. Jackson), who was a Civil War soldier who now hunts slavers.

Their foe is Belgian mastermind Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz, doing his standard top-shelf villain act), who has grand plans that start with death of Tarzan.

Yates keeps the film moving quickly and the action scenes, while some leaning toward the ludicrous side, are often a kinetic treat. The numerous CGI-created animals, are overall pretty impressive. Between this and “The Jungle Book,” it’s been a good year for fake animals.

Skarsgård offers a good interpretation of Tarzan, cutting a quietly hulking, sinewy figure. He looks like he could be swinging around the jungle and living among the apes.

Characters like Tarzan are timeless for a reason — there’s something primal about them, immediately recognizable and familiar. “The Legend of Tarzan” is a fine reminder of that feeling, but with the comforts of a modern film.

Scott A. Rosenberg