Josh Needle’s review published on Letterboxd:
I'm not really sure why this movie has gotten so much negativity, or at least why most people seem to have been very underwhelmed by it. The Legend of Tarzan is director David Yates' first foray outside of the Harry Potter universe, and while this isn't quite as good as any of his Potter films, it's still a really solid relaunching of the iconic vine-swinging ape-man that we all know and love, Tarzan!
The Legend of Tarzan takes an interesting risk that none of these recent reboots have really done. It more or less does away with the origin story, and skips right ahead to what happens next. This might be irritating to some, but I didn't mind. Is there anyone out there who doesn't know at least the bare minimum about how Tarzan came to be? His parents died, he was adopted by apes, he met Jane, yada yada yada. The movie gives enough backstory through flashbacks for the few who are unfamiliar, and now, we have a story set years later, and though it has some glaring flaws, I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Pretty much everyone in the cast is great here. Alexander Skarsgaard and Margot Robbie make for a strong pairing of Tarzan (I refuse to call him John. Where's the fun in that?!) and Jane, but it is Sam L. Jackson who steals the show with a really energetic and hilarious performance. The only actor who I wasn't big on was Christoph Waltz as the villain. Both his character and his performance just left me bored and uninterested, sadly. Djimon Hounsou's character was a far more interesting villain, and I think Waltz' character should have been scrapped entirely to give him more screentime.
I had a couple of other issues. The cgi for the most part is servicable, with a few really impressive shots here and there, but there were many times where it looked so cheap and poorly done that it was quite distracting. I also thought that certain elements of the story were a bit muddled and it occasionally felt like things were a bit all over the place. Those were my only major complaints though.
The characters are surprisingly really engaging, and I especially felt invested in the relationship between Tarzan and Jane. There are also some really exciting and intense action sequences throughout, and the plot was well-done and kept me interested and entertained. I also REALLY enjoyed the musical score.
David Yates does a solid job at handling a lot of moving parts, making the scale feel epic, but still is able to keep the audiences invested on a personal level with the story and characters. The Legend of Tarzan as a whole is a really good summer flick, an admirable effort of re-introducing the icon to a new generation, and if it happens, I'd be totally onboard for a sequel!